Breaking up with the Joneses
Last spring our church did a series on contentment (or our lack thereof). We talked about the itch so many of us have in this country, to look to our right and left in life, walking on a comparison treadmill most of our days. We bounced around what it would legitimately look like if we walked around and actually lived like we were satisfied. Needless to say, it got me thinking as a parent.
Does it ever feel like parenthood could be a platform for men and women to showcase their great qualities and strengths as individuals? Or do you ever see parenthood becoming a slippery slope downward, so as to compete with other moms and dads? This competition may exist in order to receive an imaginary high achieving award for “kid enrolled in the most pre-k educational programs to prep them only for preschool.” Or this competition could surface as a parent might strive to earn the fictional medal of having the “kid who slept through the night first, potty trained in under 72 hours, made it to the third level spelling list, or the varsity team as a sophomore?”
“And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.” Ecclesiastes 4:4, 5
Oh how careful we have to be as moms and dads as we lead, model, and love the kids God entrusted to us. It’s not about us. And we may always be tempted to recognize that there is someone richer, smarter, prettier, or stronger. But that…is simply chasing after the wind.
What I’m learning and what I want to throw out there today is this: when we constantly compare ourselves as parents to “the Joneses,” we just end up full of pride… or utterly depressed. And then you know what happens? It gets harder to love our kids like they need to be loved. All of a sudden we stop enjoying them, playing with them, and reveling in them.
Solomon continues on in Ecclesiastes 4:6 to say, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”
Start breaking up with the Joneses and you will experience more peace in your parenting!
Let’s loosen our grip and aim to grab a handful of tranquility (calmness, peacefulness). Maybe we need to say “NO” more often? Maybe we need to cut out an activity so we CAN enjoy our kids more, and look at what their needs are—love them specifically and intentionally? Let’s stop chasing the wind and make efforts to practice contentment.
“Contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and Fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs
And as we do this, let’s cheer each other on. “…let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him…let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10: 22-24
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