Seeking Freedom from Comparisons 


Anna Dunikoski // Tales From the Trenches

4 Comments

July 14  

Judging, anxious comparisons, prideful comparisons, criticizing another’s parenting, envying a friend’s family…ugh. These are behaviors I struggle with – behaviors I hate. Like St. Paul in Romans 7:15, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” This is a common struggle that can take a serious toll on our mental and spiritual health. When we work so hard and care so desperately about how we or our kids are doing, it’s a tall order for us not to compare or judge, but sidestepping these ugly adversaries is exactly what we are called to do.

Sadly, I have recently become aware of just how often comparisons or judgements run through my mind: “That girl is laughing and talking to her mom so much. Why don’t my kids talk to me? Look at how well he plays the piano—we really should have made our kids practice more. Her kids go to daily Mass with her? My kids are not spiritual enough…” It can seem like a constant string of analyzing, fault-finding, and assigning blame, and these routines lead to anxiety, sadness, and depression. They are also completely irrational.

It can never be known how much a child’s personality is due to parenting or innate character. In the same way, it can also never be known how much our own parenting is affected by variables such as our own inborn nature, upbringing, marriage, education, finances, and so on. Even when we can clearly identify “good” or “bad” parenting, it is still impossible to account for the ways in which that parent has been helped, or hindered, by that same list of endless variables. What does this all add up to? That we can’t judge!  We might as well try to compare the results of a calculus test, a kindergarten phonics test, and a test for strep-throat! In fact, judging by appearances is so impossible, that the prophet Isiah said even the coming Savior “will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear” (Is 11:3). If Jesus doesn’t judge by what he sees or hears, should we?

Despite its irrationality, comparing and judging can be habitual and really hard to resist, but wherever it exists, we hurt one another and ourselves. For my part, I am increasingly determined to fight against these harmful temptations. In order to do so, I think it must be key to acknowledge how little I am in control of how my kids or family “ends up.” I can’t control the outcome of things, but I can try to serve God and my family with a pure heart in the present moments of each day. This is what I can control and am responsible for. And then, when the inevitable occurs and I am tempted to judge or compare, I pray I am given the grace to realize right away what I am doing, to acknowledge that only God can know the credit or blame any of us are due…and stop.

Free us Lord, I pray, from ways that are not your own.

 

 

Proclaim the Genius & Share!
  • Yes! We only bring grief when we compare and or judge. Being happy in the beauty and in the pain means we are fully human. We struggle in a beautifully created yet sinful world. We are a daily ebb and flow of positive and negative experiences. We get to control our responses to them. It’s hard enough for me to control my own self and I have learned to stop trying to control others. Be an example – yes. Love and encourage – yes! Pray and grow – yes! Compare and/or judge – does not serve me so that’s a no – a good no that yields a positive – YES!!! I wish you all the best and send my love ❤️

  • Anna, this is a great observation in this time of sheltering, when staying in also means looking inward–and not always to positive effect! We must of course, recognize our faults, and try harder, always try harder, but be kind to ourselves as well. Your post helped me immensely today! Thank you!

  • Thank you for insights coming from your self-reflection. We could all benefit from watching ourselves and guarding against judgment!

  • Anna this is outstanding – what a great look into the constant flow of comparisons we as women face. I love your honesty as well as your beautiful wisdom on this topic. I love how you wrote, “I can’t control the outcome of things, but I can try to serve God and my family with a pure heart in the present moments of each day.” I have truly struggled with the fact that I am completely dependent on God intervening. My children are SO different and I’ve learned to trust that God will meet them in their own unique needs! I always look forward to your posts and your ability to dig deep into things that we all can relate to as Kingdom seeking mamas!!

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