What’s so bad about keeping up with the Joneses? Isn’t a little competition healthy? Well … maybe it wouldn’t be so bad keeping up if it didn’t often lead to failed marriages, overdrawn checking accounts, low self-esteem, parenting mistakes, and just about every other challenge you can think of!
Here are some things to ask yourself:
- How often do I scroll through social media and compare my life with others?
- Do I get angry, sad, or jealous when others succeed, get promoted, or win?
- Do I often struggle with feelings of dissatisfaction?
- Did I spend money that I didn’t have on things I didn’t need?
Keeping up is about making sure you are leading a life just good enough to move forward or to stay in tune with someone else’s life.
However, we know that the Bible calls us to lead our own race. The pursuit of “keeping pace” leaves us exhausted, unfulfilled and empty. Most of the time, it is not enough if we achieve what we wanted. The Joneses (whoever they are) achieved something else. Or the Smiths come with their accomplishments. The unhealthy comparison route is not easy. You will be exhausted, obliterated, and dejected because there is only one life you are called to – your own.
What if we could overcome this pursuit of maintenance (comparison) with a truth that leaves us full, whole, and free? What if we could find out who we are and what we were created to be instead of trying to be like everyone on our newsfeed? What if we 100% support our own lives, careers, and children instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing?
Look at the single mother who complained and cried when she thought she was doing her children a disservice. She was newly divorced and was trying to find her way around her new world and somehow take care of three children with little help. She didn’t have a dining table because she couldn’t afford one. Instead of eating on the bare floor or on the sofa, she decided to use moving boxes as small tables. The idea of their kids making so much more was devastating. She was embarrassed and appalled that she could cause emotional turmoil because her children didn’t even have the bare minimum – a kitchen table for family meals. What this single mother didn’t realize was that her children were secretly telling their friends how excited they were to have “picnic” every night in their new home!
Perspective is everything! Things usually never go as planned, but that doesn’t mean we have to strive for a life as a cookie cutter or someone else’s life that we shouldn’t have.
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done and you will not have to compare yourself to others. Because everyone is responsible for their own behavior. Galatians 6: 4-5 NLT
Don’t exhaust yourself with fitting in with everyone else or doing what others are doing. What if the life God has planned for you is better than you can imagine? What if its timing is right to get you exactly what you need, right when you need it?
Look at some of God’s chosen people and how their lives did not go as planned. Even so, God really took each of them to places they could never have dreamed of. We must adhere to Ephesians 3:20, which says God can do it abundantly more than we imagine or can imagine.
- David – In 1 Samuel we are introduced to David, a simple shepherd boy. David was happy to be a shepherd and look after his flock, but God saw more. He killed bears and lions that would attack his herd. How great is that ?! David became a warrior in the middle of the darkness in the middle of a field of sheep. David wasn’t worried about keeping up with others or what others had. He wasn’t even concerned about what was fair. He was completely satisfied and took care of the sheep. David’s preparation took place in this area. It wasn’t that he was yelling “Look at me” “Look how great I am” “Know me !!!” David was simply chosen. He didn’t have to struggle for his place or convince God what he should have. God just delivered it in his perfect timing and way.
- Esther – Esther’s life was full of devastation, as you will read in the book of the same name. She lost her parents and had to be raised by a cousin who also worked for the king. It didn’t seem like anything special by today’s standards. However, she had a heart for God and for her people. She and other women were involuntarily forced into sex trafficking that day. She endured a process in which the king chose his chosen queen from among these women. We can assume that this was not a pleasant process for Esther. Despite everything, Esther remained loyal, was elected queen and eventually saved her people! She was content with her cousin Mordechai in her life, and God called her to a lavish life as queen. She wasn’t worried about keeping up with anyone or comparing herself to anyone, but God blessed her and used her for a greater purpose!
- Mary, mother of Jesus – In Luke we find the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She loved God and knew about the prophesied Messiah. She was quite young, but knew God personally. When the angel came to her, she didn’t seem like anything spectacular. We know that she loved God and came close to him and kept his commandments because the angel said she found favor with God and was counted as righteous. She wasn’t trying to be anyone other than herself. She didn’t check Facebook or Instagram and tried to see what everyone else was doing with her belief. She just followed the Lord. She was chosen to give birth to the Savior and set a course that would change the world forever.
Single mothers, don’t count yourself out. Don’t be quick to discuss how you are not qualified for God’s use or why you will never have more than you have now. Don’t focus on what others have. God has so much for you and it will be your perfect part in its perfect timing. Just be you. Be unique. You lack nothing. Because with God all things are possible.