Just when I think I'm doing okay, God peels back another layer in my heart and reveals something else I need to work on. It's so easy to let days, weeks, months and years pass and just be good enough - after all, I'm faithful to my husband, patient with my kids most of the time, kind to my neighbors, involved at church, run a business with integrity...what else could I need to do?
This pregnancy has been challenging, to say the least, but it has also made me very aware of my shortcomings. Today was one of those days when it's starting to sink in that I don't exactly look like a supermodel. Between pregnancy breakouts and my ever-expanding belly, I'm starting to enter that "I-don't-feel-so-cute" phase. I went to several stores this afternoon looking for something that would help me feel like less of a troll, and only left feeling defeated. If you've ever been pregnant, you know that all of a sudden you are very aware that EVERYONE around you is way skinnier than you (I conveniently DON'T notice the people that aren't so slender).
I wrestled with my feelings this evening - knowing in my head that gaining weight is part of pregnancy, and there is nothing wrong with needed to buy some new clothes - but I knew it was deeper. I sat down with a new devotional book I bought written specifically for pregnant women, and opened to a page titled "Whom Do You Fear?". Now, let's just level with each other for a minute here ladies. We all compare ourselves to each other, and pregnancy is no exception. I love this story from Jenny McCarthy (yes, I am going to quote scripture & the former MTV star in the same blog! stay with me...) about comparing yourself to other pregnant women:
"Finally I found a class with an opening that was held in a church basement. So, off we went, my husband and me, to our first Lamaze class. The first thing I did - and you will too, don't kid yourself - was scope out the other pregnant women and count how many of them had bigger butts than me. Then, I relayed the tally to my husband so he could be proud sitting next to my big-but-not-the-biggest-butt."
[As a side note, if you need a good laugh, I cried and almost peed myself when I read her book. There are great chapters with titles like "Did a Sewer Tank Explode or Did You Just Fart?" It is a little crude at times, and I wouldn't take any life lessons from it, but it is quite hilarious!]
Anyway, I digress...back to the devotional.
As I was reading, it occurred to me that in the same way that we compare ourselves to others physically (sometimes it makes us feel better, sometimes worse), we also compare ourselves to others based on our morals. We often look at people and think "Well, I'm not having an affair like that person" but are we truly serving our spouse? Or how about "I love and provide for my kids while some people abandon and neglect theirs." but are we really investing in their spiritual well-being? My point is this: we aren't to compare ourselves to each other, but to God's standard - and it's pretty high. The Bible says "ALL have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God".
Today, I realized that comparing myself to others was fearing them, not God. I do care what people think about me. I LOVE being complimented. I like being told I look tiny for 24 weeks. I like feeling cute. Don't throw stuff at me - I'm just being honest. So, what does fearing God look like? Proverbs 8:13 defines it as hating evil, hating pride, hating arrogance, hating evil behavior, and hating perverse speech. These are praise-worthy qualities in a woman - not how great she looks.
The great thing about God is that He brings us to our failures gently. He points out the better way. Seeking to be a woman of character is something I can achieve, because I know God always wants that for me. As for seeking to be beautiful and charming, it just needs to have it's proper place - without fear behind it. That's actually kind of a relief. It means I can get as big as a house, and still be praised - for my character, not my looks. I really want to get to the place where when people talk about me, they talk about my the kind of person I am, not the cute outfit I wore last week. Good. I'm putting on a nice, comfy tent!