It’s been a while since honest Kathryn hit the blog. But, it’s nearly midnight and I figured why the heck not?

This pressure that we’ve been feeling lately in the parenting gig has ramped up, big time. What with the homecoming dances and PSAT tests, Quincieneras and student council elections, select sports teams and music lessons all vying for our attention.

I don’t think we do it on purpose. I don’t think parents wake up each morning and say, “What can I have my kid do today to make all his friends feel inadequate?” But then the social media creeps in, the off-hand conversation happens, the trophy gets presented and we start to doubt.

We start to wonder if we really have our priorities straight.

We worry our kid is left behind.

We fear we’re overlooking the *thing* that can help our child.

We forget the most important thing.

God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful. Or, more simply put, comparison is the thief of joy.

comparison quote

Our brain, it knows these things. But our heart? Sometimes it’s led astray.

We get sucked in – and most of the time we know it – but we’re like addicts. We tell ourselves, “Oh it’s just this one extra sport for this season,” “If they stay up late doing homework for a few months it won’t hurt, this won’t last forever,” or “If we don’t sign up for this class, {insert any child’s name} we’ll be so behind, we just want to give him a leg up on the competition.” We swear we won’t do it again. We tell ourselves it’s for the greater good. We scoff at others who don’t take this road to success more seriously. We shake our heads and tell ourselves they’re going to miss out. Those silly, silly parents. Don’t they know life is full of hard work? Our kid just climbed Mt. Everest, swam the English Channel, invented a new product, found a cure to cancer. And what did their kid do? He went to a neighbor’s house and mowed the lawn. How utterly useless. What a waste of time.

We see our lives as a competition. Who works harder. Makes more money. Wins more awards. Writes more books. Travels more places. Eats all the right things. Runs all the right races.

When what God sees is much different. Who reaches out to the poor. Listens to a child. Helps a friend grieve. Gets uncomfortable. Who praises His name. Who listens to His voice.

Gut. Check.

I’m telling you right now: it’s time to be the village to other people. It’s time to hug them hard and tell them they’re doing enough. In the end, our goal is to get to heaven, not Harvard. I mean, yes, Harvard is awesome. But it ain’t Heaven. All the things we do in this life should glorify Him. We should invent new things and learn like crazy. We should climb mountains and run those marathons. We should find that cure for cancer and write that book. But we cannot do it without Him.

Because if we do, what’s it for? Who’s it for?

If your heart and your prayers are telling you to cut back when the rest of the world is charging forward, do it. Set aside the fear. And the worry. And the doubt.

Your eternal reward is counting on it.

26 Comments

  1. Andrea on October 8, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Amen! We need to name and push back against this idolatry. My child as reflection of my efforts, an object and not a person called by God to serve and love.

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Oh, that is so good. Thank you for the reminder, too.

  2. Deme on October 8, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Preach! This hit me really hard at the beginning of the school year…all registered for school, now what extra curriculars are we doing? One per kid? Two? Now multiply that by the number of kids I have and that’s a lot of dang commitments. Which equals a lot of strain on our family. After a very busy summer of all the things, we finally slapped some reality into each other and said, lets just ease into school this fall. And that’s it. It was the best thing we could have done. Recently I’ve been feeling that anxiety though, like maybe we should be doing something else…..and that’s probably a red flag right there. If anxiety or worry that my kids aren’t doing enough (based on their peers) is driving the train, then we need to slam on the brakes to reevaluate. Thank you for that reminder! And I always love honest Kathryn and her midnight posts 😉

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:35 am

      She’s sassy 😉 Hope y’all have a great fall.

  3. Laura on October 8, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Love!

  4. Claire in the UK on October 8, 2015 at 9:39 am

    OH this is sooooo true Kathryn. Thank you as always for your words of wisdom.

  5. Verdina on October 8, 2015 at 10:23 am

    You got it! It took me so much longer to figure ithat out. Hooray for Kathryn!

  6. Jenny on October 8, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I really needed to read this today. We are on fall break on our school this week and I’ve wasted almost the whole week feeling sorry for myself that we aren’t the family taking the big vacation this week like lots of other families from our school. “Comparison is the thief of joy” has literally been my life this week and it makes me sad. Thank you for this reality check. I can’t tell you how much I needed it 🙂

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:33 am

      We all do it…and just when I’m in the pits of despair is when God sends the lifeboat. He *probably* sent it earlier, but I didn’t see it! I pray your fall break was full of some sweet family time.

  7. Jenn on October 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Amen, sista, amen!

    Also forgotten in this rush for success is just allowing our children time to be children!

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Yep. And loving that station in life. It’s a blessed space.

  8. Nicole on October 8, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Oh my – my husband and I were just talking about this LAST NIGHT! It’s like you were right there in my kitchen. Seriously.

    Most of the time, the hubby and I see things logically. We say no to extras when we can. Add in the extra school help when offered in the best interest of the child, And be proud of what our children do in their own right – rather than compare to the other children around. But sometimes… sometimes… yes, the comparison hits home, and you think “ugh, it would be nice if s/he was the best at ______.”

    You are absolutely right in that Harvard isn’t heaven. It’s a wonderful school, and we would be dang proud if a child of ours went there. However, we KNOW that’s not the end goal we need to have in mind. You are absolutely right in that we need to focus on what is truly important.

  9. Lauren on October 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Someone who has an only child was just asking me recently how I have time to give each of my 5 children everything that they need. My response began with the admission that what I think (know, really) my children need is very different from what the rest of our American culture thinks children need. My children don’t need extracurriculars in order to get to heaven. (Or even to get to college, really.) extra curricular activities can be great and have value when the time and situation is right. But I live by the philosophy that our family as a whole comes before any of us as individuals. So what isn’t right for our family isn’t right for —— (fill in child’s name.)
    I think building the culture of family in our home is far more valuable than any activity outside the home, anyway.

    • Lauren on October 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      But while I don’t often worry about what other people will think of me, I DO sometimes worry that my own chikdren will feel that they missed out on some opportunities because they are part of a large (ish) family. I know that my children are happy, but I wonder if they will choose to have a small family themselves when the time comes, in order to have their children participate in some of the things that they couldn’t because we had so many children. Ugh. Maybe that’s just Satan trying to get his hooks in me…

      • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:29 am

        I think that’s Satan. I’m no theologian, but I know that as long as we’re giving it our all to the people in our lives, there are no regrets. I won’t wish for another soccer tournament, but I will be grateful that we chose to have another child. Nothing beats that.

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

      A to the MEN.

  10. Katie on October 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    thank you!

  11. Jenna on October 8, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with every word. Now I just need to teach myself to do it.

  12. Erin @ Humble Handmaid on October 8, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Girl, you are right where God wants you… here on this blog. Awesome post.

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Thank you. You have no idea how badly I needed to hear that.

  13. mom of 8 on October 8, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I have 2 kids in college and one in high school and 5 younger. I can tell you because I have seen first hand what happens when we fill our kids lives with school and extra curricular and we are constantly running. Kids often get an unsaid message that they need to keep it all together and be perfect through practices, injuries, home work, sickness and family time. When we set the bar so high for ourselves, we set it high for our kids too, and when they can’t keep up the perfection, they don’t know how to cope so they cave to pressure by cutting, depression, chronic sickness from stress, smoking, drugs and alcohol. They feel like failures because they maybe be keeping it all together on the outside, but hurting on the inside….and they don’t have the maturity to reconcile that, or to know what to do with their feelings! There are large amount of teens on anti depressants these days, and I believe it comes from keeping up with the demands of the activities. Sports are so much more intense, play and choir performances must be perfect, grades must be college ready….and they start talking college freshman and sophomore year! Add to that all of the social media pressure to be cute, funny, skinny, and tweet about it, Instagram it and text and snap chat about it until 1:00 a.m., so they are chronically tired. Plus the social nuances of friendships, boy/girl friends. We create a perfect storm for our kids to feel bad about themselves on the inside when they can’t be perfect, while looking fine on the outside.

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

      This. So much truth. Thank YOU for sharing your experience and your honesty. Another reason to listen to our gut and pray like crazy for our kids. Thank you so much for this beautiful insight.

  14. Madeline on October 8, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Oh my gosh I feel slightly overwhelmed right now with just two kids and a once a week soccer class mixed in with school and life. This is such a good thing to read while my life is reasonably easy and I can still control what we say yes to.

    Also, Mom to 8’s comment makes SO much sense. My husband’s hometown has an UNREAL suicide rate in it’s middle and high school right now. I’ve been saying for years now that it isn’t reasonable to expect teens to go to the top high school in the state, play all the sports/be in all the music activities and still hold it together. Obviously they aren’t. Mom to 8 just said it so much more eloquently than I could. Thank you for this post!

    • Kathryn on October 14, 2015 at 8:30 am

      I wish I’d known I could say no earlier in my motherhood gig. But, better to learn the lesson now than not ever. And, YES to that comment. It was golden.

  15. Meggan on October 8, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    We were talking about comparison last night at Bible study, and I used this very saying. Thank you for being honest.

  16. […] line? We’ve forgotten how to be satisfied. We keep searching for success, worrying that we’re missing out on THE THING when really, […]

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