Kick Off Your Running Shoes
- Monday, October 04, 2004
Have you ever been admonished, "Stop comparing your child to other children!"? You then quickly shake your head in agreement, "Yes, yes, I know, you're right, I shouldn't… I won't." But secretly, in your mother's heart of hearts, you can't help but compare. If you are a mom who has a child that seems to lag behind in some area, it seems nearly impossible to not see every delay he exhibits as though it were a bullhorn sounding out the alarm, "Look at HER child, tsk, tsk . . . so far behind all of the rest. Wonder what the problem is in that home. Must be the mother's fault . . . yes, it's always the mother's fault."
Or, you could be that rather fortunate mom who has that unbelievably high achiever for a child. You watch your child fly through school, sports, and social situations with seemingly flawless ease. You, too, can't help but notice your child's shining success and privately give yourself that little pat on the back. Obviously, you are doing something right!
Why do we do this? I think the reason we think this way is the result of sinful pride . . . for both kinds of moms mentioned above. If we didn't care so much about what other people think, and if we cared more about what God thinks of us, it would never even cross our minds to compare our children with others.
I think that as a mother of a special needs child, the proclivity to compare is very great. We already have a sense that we tread on foreign land, territory not common to the majority of parents. This lays the foundation for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. We may have family, or friends from church, who do not approve of our decision to homeschool, causing us to feel judged and defensive. We listen to other homeschooling moms discuss their 'normal' children and we stand in awe at their children's accomplishments. I have listened to moms chatter on about their child's success and I stupidly stand there recalling to myself, how that very morning, my 11-year-old son who has autism needed me to help him blow his nose! It's as if we moms are on separate planets.
What has helped me in my efforts to overcome this tendency to compare is to recognize that homeschooling is not a race against others. I know, because of our natural sinful pride, this is easier said than done, but you really must keep it in mind if you want to keep yourself from bitterness toward your friends, your child, or even God.
Have you ever witnessed your children in need of the reminder that 'it's not a race'? My boys, 11-year-old Drew, and 9-year-old Elliot, hear this reminder from me all of the time. We pull into the driveway after errands; both boys jump out, and with a collective slam of the car doors make their way in a mad-dash to the house. Obviously there is something truly horrid about not getting there first. What is funny is that the one lagging behind is always the one to yell to the other, "Remember, it's NOT A RACE!" How different things look, however, when you are in the lead: "It most certainly is a race. . . and I'm winning!"
Not only do we need to recognize we are not failures when we view ourselves as 'behind,' we, too, must guard ourselves from the sinfulness of arrogance by bragging when we consider ourselves 'ahead' Anyone can seek out the child who lags behind their own. For the moment, it feels like a safe place to be. In reality, what does it really matter who is ahead and who is behind? Is this what God says we ought to do?
Don't be confused with what the scriptures refer to as running "the race set before us." The race mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 is one of believers persevering in obedience to faith in Christ. This, too, is not a race against others. What is important to note about the race mentioned in Hebrews is that sin, such as the sin of pride, hinders the Christian in this race and, as Matthew Henry writes, "takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement." This being the race that truly matters, it ought to give impetus for us to frequently consider God; what are His thoughts of us? How do we compare to His standards of faith and practice? Is God pleased with us?
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