We are surrounded by images of completely fabricated “perfect” families- Images of gorgeous, bright-eyed young moms holding perfect newborns, images of perfect family vacations, images of.. well, perfect families.
The more that we believe that a perfect family exists, the more that we can become dissatisfied with our own imperfect families and imperfect situations.
Allow me to illustrate. You know what a family breakfast should look like, right?
So, why does my family breakfast look more like this?
We are surrounded by images of perfect families. As we look at these pictures, it is easy to hear and believe a lie:
“You deserve better than what you have.
You deserve more than dirty dishes and blow-out splattered onesies.
You deserve obedient, compliant children and a beautiful post-partum body.
You deserve family members who remember to flush the toilet when they are done using it.
You deserve what you see in that photo. They have it. Why shouldn’t you?”
And little fingers of resentment spring up in our hearts. We start to blame God and the people around us for our lack of a perfect, fulfilling life. We love our children more than life itself, yet we push them away because we need some “me” time. We want more from our spouses, so we make demands of them and then push them away when they fail to meet our expectations.
We subtly let our families know that they have not met our expectations and that we are disappointed in them. We find ourselves making decisions based on our own selfish desires rather than for the good of our families.
Our lives start to be marked by selfishness in our thoughts and our decisions. We are trying to force our family to conform to a perfect reality that doesn’t even exist! How can we combat this demon of comparison?
1. Acknowledge that “perfect” lives and “perfect” families are lies.
When we are watching TV, flipping through a magazine, scrolling through Pinterest, or “catching-up” on Facebook, we need to consciously remember that what we are looking at is probably a lie. Your friend’s super cute vacation picture on Facebook was taken right after she had an argument with her husband and right before her two year old messed his pants and her teenager walked away rolling his eyes. Seriously. We must not compare our families to that isolated “perfect” picture.
2. Look to Jesus Christ for our example.
When Satan whispers in our ears that we deserve better, we need to focus our thoughts on Jesus Christ, the very Son of God Who lived a perfect, sinless life. He deserved the joy of heaven and the worship of all the angels. Instead, He was beaten to a bloody pulp and hung naked on a cross while mortal people jeered. He took our punishment so that we might experience an eternity of peace with God in heaven. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem like we really “deserve” that much, does it?
3. Immerse ourselves in God’s truth.
God’s Word is the perfect antidote to the lies that the world throws at us. Did you know that not one perfect, flawless family can be found in the Bible? It doesn’t exist in there. The Bible is brutally honest about what family life is like in a sinful world. Thank God, the Bible offers great hope for normal, sinful families.
4. Be honest with the people around us.
Do we try to impress our friends with our “perfect” lives? Would we be mortified if a friend stopped by unexpectedly and found us without make-up in a messy house? Or could we welcome our friend in without apologies, because what they are seeing is real life? And, are we surrounding ourselves with friends who are equally truthful? When we understand that everyone else is struggling as well, the sin of unhealthy comparison is much easier to fight.
By the way, did you see the beautiful photo of my own “perfect” family in the header of this blog?
This is a beautiful family photo of a perfect moment, right? Wrong. It was cold. The sun was in our eyes. The bathrooms were closed. Two children had to pee in the woods. One child had an accident in their pants while trying to pee in the woods. One child scraped their foot badly and complained the entire walk back. One husband hates getting his photo taken. And one mother had a growing headache and returned to a house full of dirty dishes left over from a rushed dinner of scrambled eggs. Our photographer was amazing, though, and somehow didn’t capture all of that!
Don’t compare yourself or your family to lies.