The Comparison Trap

I am the mom of a middle school son—and a self-confessed football mom. In my small, football-obsessed Texas town, this is a unique and often scary breed. We know as much (or more) about football than our husbands and are not afraid to coach our sons to play better. We go to practice, study plays, and watch game film with our sons. When they get hurt, we dust them off and send them back onto the battle field. We yell louder than anyone else in the stands, and we burst with pride when they make a big play.

Imagine my joy when I gave birth to a little boy built low to the ground and solid as a brick wall. My cup ran over when, in the third grade, he actually showed interest in playing the game I loved. It soon became clear what he lacked in talent he made up for in heart and desire. In his last year of peewee football, he tried out for a pretty competitive team but did not make it. He was good, but not “good enough.” His heart was broken, and in true confession, so was mine. I was tempted to demand another chance for my son, making a mental list of how he was better than the three boys ahead of him on the depth chart, but something held me back.

I was reading Kay Wyma’s book, I’m Happy for You (Sort of…Not Really) in preparation for her visit to our church this fall. There, staring me in the face, was the bold truth I needed to hear:

“When I compare my kid to the superstar whatever, I’m saying that God made a mistake by making my kid a certain way because he’s missing what the other kid has, and in the process, his identity and purpose get lost. So not only are we tearing down our kids in the midst of comparing what they do or don’t have to those around them, we’re actually stealing their unique identity and purpose.” (pg 163)

Oh my—truth hurts, doesn’t it? My over-indulgence in comparison, my pressure for him to be the best in football, may actually be diverting him from the path God has for his life. I had great expectations for my son when he started playing football, but what I have recently learned is that my expectations were not of him, but of myself. I wanted to feel like I was part of a club I had watched from afar, and entrance to that club was based on my son’s success on the football field.

Every time I get the opportunity to sit down with Kay Wyma, I am immediately drawn to her and think of how much fun it would be to have her in my circle of girlfriends. I don’t know if it is her unapologetic approach to a life that runs counter to our go-go, hyper-competitive world, or her self-professed “wheels off” moments that draw me in. Whatever it may be, her new book is both convicting and liberating all at once. Whether sitting on the sidelines at a football game, surfing Facebook updates, or trolling beautiful Pinterest pictures, it is so easy to compare and to feel “less than,” which starts to breed discontentment and dissatisfaction with life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” and that is exactly what he is doing when he robs me (and you) of the joy and freedom to be content with who we are and who our children are. Do not let any person or external thing rob you of this moment, this day, and what God wants you to see in how He has created you and your children.

Gather your girlfriends and make plans to spend an evening with Kay as she shares the many insights she gathered while writing this book, giving us hope for a brighter future. Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 8 and make sure to register on our web page.

Christine Clark
Christine Clark is the Ministry Coordinator for the Family and Children’s Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. She has a passion for supporting parents and helping them gain confidence and tools to be spiritual leaders in their homes. She is blessed to be the mom of a middle school son and married to her college sweetheart for more than 20 years. She is also an avid sports fan who loves all things football, especially in the fall in Texas.

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