stealing joy.

It’s currently 9:30 on a Sunday evening–not my typical blogging time. Since there is a snow day tomorrow and my list of things to do is getting shorter and shorter, I thought I’d try to write some of my thoughts. Lately, the blog has only been a host to pictures and updates of August. My hope is to try and show a little more of reality of us (there is more to us than a cute little 1 year old, I promise).

The topic of this post is something I’ve struggled with for some time now. I feel like it has gotten worse since moving to Holland and having a child. Comparison. Being content. I often (if not daily)  am comparing myself to others around me. “So and so is a better teacher…That person has a bigger house and we are still renting…Their children are better behaved…I don’t do “fun” things like those other moms…They stay home and I work…” And the list could continue.

Thinking about where this has rooted from, I think a big part is my own insecurities. I often fear that we are looked “down upon” for living on campus. Or we don’t meet the “expectations” for where we should be in life by now. Also, I find a lot of self-worth in a job well done, which leads to a fear of being seen as a bad teacher and/or mom. I know my own struggles are a major reason why I think/feel this way.

With that, I also feel like it has been more evident since we  moved to Holland. We are surrounded by people who appear to “have it all”: 4 bedroom beautiful house, multiple kids, financially successful, mini-vans and soccer practice. The “American dream”, right? This is part of the culture here in West MI, and it’s not a bad thing. What is bad, is that I have fallen victim of comparing what we don’t have with what others have. And it makes me ungrateful. Discontent. Jealous. I find myself saying things like, “if we had more money we could get this”.

What is my goal in all of this? To make more money, to buy a bigger house, so my kids can live a more comfortable life? Or is my mission to further the Kingdom of God, even if that means we are a little comfortable? To spread His love and love His people? I don’t need a bigger house to do that.

A couple of Sunday’s ago our pastor said something that really struck a chord with me. He said something along the lines of, “the only thing we should want more of is God’s love.” Whoa. Not to be seen as a better teacher or mom. Not a bigger house with a nicer kitchen. Not a mini-van or granite countertops. It really convicted me to be content with what I have now. The only thing I should be wanting more of is God’s love–I should always be want more of that. Chris and I are richly blessed.

My response to this is to work on being content in God’s love. To read my Bible more. Take note of His work in my life.

The other day I was at hot yoga, while I was struggling to hold downward facing dog for another 30 seconds, I looked at the wall and in big, bold letters I read “comparison is the theft of joy”. A quote I’ve heard many times over, but it struck me differently this time.

Friends, can we commit to not give into the culture of “having it all brings true joy.” Rather take a radical approach that God’s love brings true joy. Maybe that means scaling down our clothing budget. Perhaps we commit to stop trying to convince others that we have it all . Or place less importance on home ownership or career success. Possibly we can compare less by disconnecting from Facebook  (something I am seriously considering). Let’s shift the importance on sacrificing our comforts to bring comfort to the hurting.

If nothing else, here is me being honest about my struggles right now and who I am and what I have. I am a working mom. We rent a small(ish) sized apartment. We drive one car. We have one child who can be a handful (yet SO loving). I am a teacher and this is who I am and what God has blessed us with. Let’s stop letting others steal our joy.

There is only one thing I want more of: God’s love. 

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2 thoughts on “stealing joy.

  1. I love your honesty Amanda! Thank you for sharing. I too struggle with contentment. Often times I know that God is everything that I need but it can be difficult to choose daily that He is more then enough. It is hard to have the right perspective in this world driven by consumerism, compared to the rest of the world you and I and most everyone we know are more blessed then we can possibly imagine. Then when we remember that as children of God that everything we are given is really God’s and we are only borrowing it and using what He has given us to advance His kingdom, it is all put into perspective 🙂 Thanks again!

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