Wisdom in Winter – Day 5 – Faithfulness
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
I remember a particular day when I wondered where I was going wrong as a parent. With two toddlers in tow, I went to a friend’s house for lunch. Her children were already sitting nicely at the table when we arrived, but I immediately knew we were in trouble when my friend said, “Isn’t it so good to enjoy vegetables with the kids? My two simply can’t get enough of colourful crudités and dips.”
I stood and thought, “Yikes. Your kids actually eat celery and hummus? Voluntarily? In my house, I’m in trouble if the fish fingers even touch the baked beans. Celery really is not on the menu!”
Lunch didn’t go well.
Truthfully, our oldest child was late at everything, including eating celery. She was a late walker, a late potty trainer and she was late every morning for the school run for years. She excelled at being late.
In case it encourages anybody, she’s now completing her master’s degree in Physics, eats vegetables of her own volition and can use the bathroom unaided. Those early worries were irrelevant in the long run.
The problem is, as we talk to other parents, watch parenting blogs or scroll through social media, we can feel like we are getting it all wrong if our children aren’t rivalling Einstein at school and on the national squad for football.
Our guilt about not getting it right means we benchmark ourselves against others and either feel smug if our kids are ahead of the curve or distraught if they’re behind it. It’s bonkers isn’t it, when every child is so different?
This comparison trap, especially envy, as this proverb reminds us, leads to decay. It eats us up and robs us of our contentment. Comparing and competing as parents leads to stress in us and in our children. Peace however, as this proverb describes, brings us life.
Knowing God’s peace as parents and accepting our children as they are enables us to support them to reach their own unique potential. We want to be faithful with what we do have and not strive for what we don’t.
In Proverbs 4:23 we read, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
So, how can we apply these truths from scripture into our lives?
- We can ask God to help guard our hearts from envy and comparison and be intentional about sowing words of gratitude and contentment.
- We can remind ourselves that parenting is a privilege, especially in these early years where our children value quality time at home with us.
- We can frame these years as treasures, where our heart learns to rest and abide. God faithfully gives us what we need each day, to love our family and to do our best. We look to God to be our source of peace as we learn to live out our lives in faithfulness to him.
- Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap as a parent? Are you prone to defining whether you are succeeding or struggling depending on how others are doing?
- How can you show your children they are loved and accepted just as they are, and help them not to fall into the comparison trap?
- Being vulnerable can be challenging, even with our closest friends. How can you develop a culture in your friendships where you feel comfortable to share if you are struggling?
Cathy’s top tip
Combat envy and comparison with celebration and gratitude! Practice verbally honouring your closest friends in front of other people (including them!). You’ll be surprised how quickly envy decreases when we speak words of life and encouragement out loud.
This is a great skill to teach our children while they’re young. Children learn by watching others – let’s model this to them so they grow up honouring others.
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