Julie Lyles Carr
“Whose Kids Am I Raising?”
“… we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”
Galatians 5:26 (MSG)
You’d think I’d be a faster learner.
But there I go again. In a dressing room. Under those unforgiving florescent lights. Trying on that cut, this style, that fad that looks so cute on so-and-so.
And not so cute on me.
On these hips. At this age. With this coloring.
Trying to copy what I’ve perceived as darling, cool, elegant, hip, effective on someone else. Trying to push it onto the confines of me.
Pretending again that cookie-cutter approaches will yield a custom fit. Ignoring the individual nuances of my complexion, my build, my budget.
It happens in dressing rooms. It happens when I’m trolling online message boards and blog feeds. More significantly, it happens relationally. In my faith. In my marriage. In my work and home life.
And, gulp, in raising my kids.
Confusing inspiration with impersonation.
From the conversations I have with women, I realize many of us share the same conundrum. Whose life am I living? The one God destined for me? Or one that I’ve built from a pile of comparison? What about these children I’m raising? Am I raising them according to who God has designed them to be … or who others think they should be?
We want to walk in wisdom. We seek great examples. We want to learn.
But then something shifts. And we veer into a forgery, attempting to live a life that’s not our own. The line between gathering and applying wisdom versus falling into retrograde copycatting is a fragile one.
I can be tempted to compare my kids, my work or my marriage with other people’s, feeling like I come up short. But nobody has ever raised my kids before. No one but my husband and I have conducted this particular marriage. No one but God and I walk the path He has for me. I can learn from others, and I can even gain wisdom, but their lives are not mine to copy.
Because my life isn’t meant to be a copy.
If comparison is the thief of joy, it is also the mortal enemy of originality. Because our creative, imaginative God doesn’t bind us in cookie-cutter patterns. He is an eternal author, writing fresh narratives over each of His kids’ lives. I adore the way Eugene Peterson puts our key verse in The Message version: “… we will not compare ourselves with each other … Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5:26).
Take courage with me in that amazing thought. We have much greater things to be doing than sizing ourselves up. Or down. Or measuring our kids against the neighbors’.
We are bespoke by what He spoke.
I read about a man who desperately wanted to be a great painter. He admired the great masters of the art. He studied their techniques, their color combinations, their subject matters. But instead of taking those lessons and applying them to creating masterpieces of his own, he became a prolific art forger.
And was caught.
Why would someone with such incredible talent--who could emulate the greatest painters of the age--reduce that to become a human Xerox machine with a paintbrush?
But then again, why do I?
Why do we?
Because … it’s scary to lean into the originalities God infuses into us. It’s a launch into the unknown. When we live as originals--when we raise originals--we’re reminded that living life is sometimes a wild and unpredictable ride. We often prefer predictable patterns over leaning into the fresh story God is weaving.
But we can choose courage over copy.
Today, let’s compose. Let’s celebrate. Let’s see what God will do when we stop comparing and start embracing that God loves to do new things.
In each of us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for infusing fresh creativity into the making of each of Your kids. I praise You for the originalities You place in each of Your children. Help me not to cheapen Your original work with a comparison copy. Give me courage to live as Your unique child, to raise the unique children You’ve given me and not compare myself to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 43:19a, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (NIV)