Thursday, May 29, 2008

In comparison...

The other day I was outside chatting with a couple of my neighbors, all of us stay at home moms. When stay at home moms get together, we tend to chat about one of two things: our kids or the lamentable state of our homes. On this occasion we discussed the latter.

One friend spoke of washing her windows and her ceiling fans. In the same day. That very day we were standing in my backyard talking. The other friend confessed to being unable to stand dirty windows, and wished she could only get around to vacuuming out her van. Both neighbors agreed they planned to mow that day or the next.

I went inside.

I am no housekeeper, not in the least. I have tried to spiritualize my lack of domestic achievements by claiming I am fixing my eyes on what's eternal (2 Cor. 4:18), and neither dust nor the rings in my toilet are eternal. (Are they?) But I left the conversation with my neighbor friends terribly discouraged and absolutely convinced that I was the worst housekeeper ever, the worst mother ever, the most worthless, horrible excuse for a stay at home mom in the history of stay at home moms.

I totally hated myself.

I had compared myself to them, found myself different, and saw it as lack. We women do it all the time: I am insecure about myself, I compare myself to so-and-so, and end up despising myself.

Or, sometimes I compare myself to so-and-so-number-two, and instead of feeling worse about myself, decide that, next to her, I'm pretty good, and suddenly I'm all puffed up with my own self-righteousness.

Both are deadly. Whether I am consumed with how horrible I am, or consumed with how much better I am, I am still consumed with ME. There's one word for that: PRIDE.

And it all began with comparison borne of insecurity.

I was insecure--wait, who am I kidding?--I am insecure because I equate my significance with what I do: I don't do windows and it never occurs to me to clean my ceiling fans nor vacuum my van, therefore I must be worthless and insignificant.

While it certainly does matter that I maintain my home with some semblance of order (and please don't get the wrong idea, it may be chaos, but it's not unsanitary!) worth is not found in my housekeeping skills, nor my blogging skills, nor how well I taught Bible study last week.

God has called my neighbor friends to maintain their homes with a certain degree of excellence and I applaud that. He has called me, well, to something different, but not necessarily less.

I am not significant because of what I do (or don't do for that matter). My significance lies not in my self-worth nor my self-esteem. I am full enough of myself as it is. My significance is in God.

As John Piper says in Taste and See:

"the preciousness of knowing God and mirroring him well enough by my delight in him that others can see his worth in me and join me in enjoying him. Now that would be real significance!"

As much as I may sometimes wish I were, I am not my friends. Perhaps one day some of their housekeeping skills will rub off on me. Whether I become a domestic diva or not, it matters little. What matters is that whatever He calls me to do, I "do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31), delighting in Him so that others can see His worth, not mine.

Originally posted September, 2006


  1. Oh Lisa. You should just come here. Then you would leave my home all puffed up with the knowledge that you were certainly not as awful as that. :)

    I agree though that we need to be careful in how we define our worth. I loved this post. I am glad you reposted it.

  2. I will be your so-and-so number two. :)

    We have a whole convo going on at my blog about this very thing..:))

  3. Wise words of wisdom.

    Thank you!


  4. One of the teenagers from my church sent me an e-mail the other day; just a "how are you doing" kind of note. He said something about how he doesn't know how I "do it all," i.e. keeping my home, teaching bible studies, and writing a blog and notes on Facebook.

    My answer was: "I get up early; and I have dust bunnies."

    I just recently purchased a dust buster to deal with the dust bunnies.

    My home is generally clean, but not always immaculate. I know than cleanliness and orderliness are part of making the home comfortable, but having a home where people don't feel like they're afraid to touch anything doesn't do that for me.

    I totally understand what you're saying.

  5. Oh that comparison thing, it gets me so often. I too often equate my worth and value with the things that I get accomplished. Thanks for this post today. It was a reminder that I needed. You blessed and encouraged me today.

  6. LOL! Hugs to you! Thanks for making me feel better. I remember listening to some women at work ( back when I worked outside the home) talk about taking their curtains down and washing them. I had been married 7 years by then with just a couple of children...and had NEVER washed my curtains. I didn't know you needed to do so. They couldn't believe it and told me not to wash them now because they would fall apart and laughed and laughed and laughed. I decided then I was going to boast about my lack of house keeping abilities and to this day love to shock a Martha Stewart type with my apparent lack of inability or gumption. Probably not so godly a thing to do either! LOL!

  7. Excellent post. I have been a stay at home mom for 28 years now. I have launched both sons out into the adult world. THey are both walking with God and serving the Lord. They are married, have babies and are building thier own household of faith. Like you, I struggled by comparing myself to others who were better at....and I always came up lacking. But I determined that I was raising me some boys and not a house! I am peace (as you have) with who I am and decided who I am in Christ would define me, not who I am in the list of great housekeepers, cooks, etc. So dear young mom, keep pressing on and loving Jesus. In the end, that is what matters. Blessings.

  8. I love that final quote from Piper. He can pack so much into a few words.

    (Not my gift. But I don't want to compare.)

  9. I can relate to this post...I feel very inadequate many time, esp when I get in the comparison mode. I know I don't measure up and have many flaws...I guess that's why I know that I am in need of a Savior...I can't do it all and I don't want to ever act like I can...PRIDE is what I just read about in Respectable Sins yesterday and my husband read the chapter aloud to our whole family last night in family worship convicting...

    I am guilty.

    Great post!

  10. I always say my ministry is making other women feel better about their housekeeping. :-) I borrowed it from a friend.

  11. Lisa - Right now, on the inside, back window of my van, is a coating of chocolate milkshake. It's been there for more than two weeks.

    Everybody can see it.


    Yesterday, my friend, who is winning her battle with Stage IV breast cancer, came over to my house. She has had SO many people in her house helping her over the last six months. EVERYONE has seen her house a mess. I took her on a tour of my house. Even upstairs.

    It don't get no more authentic than that.

    Cleaning windows and ceiling fan blades? Seriously. I let PinkGirl clean the windows because she thinks it fun. And I don't go back and fix the streaks. And I clean my ceiling fan blades every ten years, like clockwork.

  12. Amen, sister!!! In heaven, you will not look back and wish you'd washed more windows or cleaned your van more often! : ) The quote you shared from Piper was perfect!

  13. I will be your so-and-so number two. :)

    We have a whole convo going on at my blog about this very thing..:))

  14. Oh Lisa. You should just come here. Then you would leave my home all puffed up with the knowledge that you were certainly not as awful as that. :)

    I agree though that we need to be careful in how we define our worth. I loved this post. I am glad you reposted it.