I Control and Compare to be Happy

mom multitaskingMany days there is very little in my life of unquenchable exhaustion that helps me feel stable and secure. As I architect my entire day, every day, around providing for my family, I feel like a skeleton of who I once was now staggering through an unknown wilderness. This often leaves me grasping for control. Because when I control, I have power. I have something that makes me feel solid like there is at least one battle I will always win. And in the darker fleeting moments, I find myself comparing to make myself feel better and validate that I am good enough.

My titan of control is appearance. I don’t care much for makeup and the right clothes (my daily uniform is sweats and pajamas), but I ardently pursue healthy self-care (good girl) and scrutinize my body size all the time (bad, very bad).

A few times at night before bed when I have been alone in the darkness with the Ipad, I have gone online and searched the height, weight, and bust sizes of actresses to compare myself. How messed up is that? I’m drawn to it because I think that if I match them it means I am in control and mastering something that is mine, all mine. But it never seems to work out that way. Whether I am bigger or smaller, my heart is just as empty, still grasping.

I am reminded of a favorite quote from a book I once read: “We try many ways to free ourselves from our entrapment. More money, another job, a new diet…these approaches strive for change from below. Like sheep caught in a thorny busy, the harder we struggle to get out, the more entangled we become.”

The comparisons I make almost daily are subconscious tendencies. They are subtle whispers in my thinking that ask, “How nice is my house compared to so-and-so’s? How hard am I working? How smart are my kids?” The underlying message is always the same: Am I enough?

I control, compare, and measure my worth like a mad scientist testing coveted chemicals in a basement lab. Why do I hold on so tightly? This world is not my home. This life is not mine. My will is only a grain of sand, a blade of grass vaporized in the sun. I can’t take my hands off and yet there is no happy end result, only brokenness and false illusions that money and a model-like body will bring security.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

It doesn’t matter how many comparison battles I win. My “happiness cup” will never be full because I have mastered my weight or because I am doing better than someone else. I can’t fill this cup. Material things and worldly measures fall through like a sieve. How in vane and slowly maddening it would be to control the rat race and miss what we are created to do: To live peacefully, joyfully trusting our totally loving and powerful God. Loving and serving in the capacity only each of us can do as unique children of God. We are already perfectly loved and accepted. What on earth matters more than this?

John 16:33: I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

I remember a story I once heard that illustrates our desire for control. It’s like a child who won’t let go of her broken toy. God is waiting, reaching out and inviting her to give Him the toy to fix, but she won’t let it go. How much better would life be if we could surrender the broken things we cling to so bitterly? What we truly, restlessly seek is not to run the race of control and comparison but to empty ourselves and fall freely into God’s hands with nothing left to control. Because He has everything and He alone is strong enough. Cling to Him. He thirsts for you. This love is the only measure that will transcend all time.

I won’t be able to destroy all my control demons in one fell swoop, but I can start somewhere. No more late night body stat comparisons! There it goes into the trash. Where will you start?

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