December 13, 2008 by Stacy McDonald

Aren’t they Cute?

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Aren’t they cute? This is a photo of my parents the day they were married. Cool car, huh? Heading off into marital bliss, I wonder how long it took for reality to hit. Bills, burnt toast, dirty laundry, morning breath.

We often talk about the way new wives and mothers struggle with the monotony of every day life – striving to live godly in the midst of the mundane. But perhaps there’s another equally common nemesis. I need to ask my mom if she too struggled with comparing herself to other women – to the wives and mothers around her. If she’s anything like the rest of us, I suspect she did.

Since posting my article, I am What I am, I have been pondering anew our tendency as women to idolize the women around us, and to forget the blessings in our own lives. But we start young.

Remember junior high? Remember the girls who seemed to have it all together? Did any of those girls go to your school? One girl in particular comes to mind for me. Her name was Kim and she was older (8th grade), beautiful, smart, graceful, popular…and looked down on me – or so I thought. Kim was a cheerleader and wore all the “right” clothes, including really cool Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with the gold stretch belt I wanted so bad. Remember those?

I recall one day sitting in the locker room listening to a group of 6th grade girls gossip about Kim. “She thinks she’s so hot,” one girl said cattily; and we all agreed, rolling our eyes as Kim walked by. “Stuck up!” Another girl whispered.

We seemed to take some sort of bizarre comfort in voicing our group disdain for Kim and her “perfection.” Basically, we wanted to be like Kim, but we didn’t want to admit it. We were angry; not at Kim, but at the fact that we weren’t like her. Somehow, by taking that anger out on her, it made us feel better about ourselves. The sad thing is, even Kim couldn’t have measured up to our false impression of who she was.

But one day something changed for me. For some reason that I can’t recall, perhaps it was a doctor’s appointment, I was scheduled to leave school early. So in the middle of P.E. I headed back to change into my street clothes and report to the office.

The girls locker room was empty – the way I preferred it. As I gathered my clothes to get ready to change clothes in quiet seclusion, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone was crying…softly. It was Kim.

I won’t go into all the details, but I discovered that day that Kim’s life was nowhere near perfect. All I had seen of her before was what was visible to those who didn’t know her. Not because she had hidden anything from me, but because I didn’t know her – I wasn’t her friend. I hadn’t been invited to share in the details of her life because they were, quite frankly, none of my business.

Based on my, “she thinks she’s so hot” attitude, why should she have trusted me to share in her life anyway? Kim had been through troubles and endured fears that I could never have dreamed of at that age. I learned that day that you never know as much as you think you know about somebody. You can speculate all day long, but you’ll usually be wrong.

So let’s learn to be thankful for what God has given each of us and quit looking at others with stars in our eyes. Let’s not covet the lives we think others live; but, instead let’s look at our own lives, our own husbands, our own children, and our own faded jeans (minus the stretch belt); and let’s be thankful. Let us put to final death the cancerous sin of covetousness, recognizing that it is the sin of idolatry. And if we don’t, by God’s grace, master it, it will master us.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5, NKJV)



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17 Responses to “Aren’t they Cute?”

  1. Jeanette Anteola says:

    Thank you again for sharing such wisdom, Stacy. As usual you are so right. During my struggles over the past few years, I can honestly say I thought similar things about those I thought had everything I wanted. A husband, a home, support in homeschool. I struggled so hard, and always felt less than others, because my life wasn’t what it had been.

    It’s so good to know that the Lord only holds us to what He wants us to be, not what he needs others to be.

  2. Bethany Hudson says:

    This is a great reminder, Stacy. Thank you.

    I wasn’t exactly what most kids would call “popular” when I was in high school, but at my school for the performing arts, I was one of the cool kids. I dated the most popular guy in my grade for a year, always had steady boyfriends, was wealthy by the standards at our inner-city school, and starred in numerous school plays, besides being in the top of the class. I remember having girls do to me what you spoke about your friends doing to Kim. It was extremely painful. And, yes, nobody is perfect. I felt totally inadequate. I didn’t think I was pretty enough or “cool” enough, and I struggled with my father’s alcoholism. My friends knew this, of course, but not the girls who hated me for no apparent reason and spread vicious rumors about me. I’ll never forget how hurt I was when I discovered that people viewed me this way, especially since, as I said, I never thought of myself as “popular” or “hot” by any means.

    I hope that this isn’t as much a part of my life now that I am an adult, but it is good to keep in mind that the sinful natures that lead us to such things in high school are still there, probably just manifesting in other ways. Thanks for the reminder!

    ~Bethany

  3. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, from one public-schooled woman to another, this article rocks! There are so many dimensions in others’ lives we don’t know about. This reminds me of an awesome new book I got called “The Secret Life of It Girls”, which describes what the lives of popular girls are really about. The book goes into detail about the nastier girls: their competitive fights between friends, their naive self-centerdedness, and the occasional softer heart among them that wonders about the different lives of girls who don’t care about popularity. It also looks into the lives and struggles of the softer-hearted popular girls: one girl struggles with her distant father, another has a baby out of marriage, and yet another experiences love for the first time at a young age. I LOVE this book, how it looks at both cruel and kind popular girls and how their lives are so much more complicated than those outside their clique know.

    Even as Christian adults, we have to remember to love our own lives. Thanks for sharing!

  4. LinesFromTheVine says:

    Those Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were Coooolll. I only had one pair, but I can remember feeling like I was something walking around in those things. Wow, it’s funny how perspective changes as we get older, LOL!

    Thank you for this- I for one, am guilty of comparing myself to others. Things happen and I look around and wonder why everyone else has it so together and I feel, at times, like I can’t keep it all together.

    My husband often reminds me, you see what people want you to see.

    As always, I’ve enjoyed my stop by your site.

    Tracy

  5. MrsMelody says:

    Wonderful reminder. I remember well envying the “Kims” of my school days. Then I found out that their lives weren’t all that great. In fact, many times I “had it” better than they did.

    Great reminder to be thankful for the blessings that the Lord has given us and to keep our focus on where it should be. HIM.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas!

  6. Mama Lamba says:

    This is very good. I remember the “Kim” of my class. We were jealous of her rabbit fur coats (remember those?) and diamond jewelry. Everyone thought she was rich. Once I befriended her, I found out that her dad gifted her with such things as payment for her performing certain “favors” for him. This was 7th grade. You never know what is going on behind the fancy clothes and well-coiffed hair. Very sad.

  7. christinnjon says:

    Beautiful…thank you for sharing. The old saying is true: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side”. It’s best to learn this before it’s too late.
    I have been tempted to wish to be like others in my own adult life. There are women I am close to who are so gifted in hospitality and I so desire to have that. But that’s just not me. I have been told I’m an encourager…that’s about as close as it gets. For these women, hospitality comes very naturally to them. They don’t need to think too hard about it, it just comes to them. I often beat myself up because I don’t think of the things they do (like making soup for someone who’s sick or inviting people over on a whim). God has graciously gifted me with being able to teach – so that I can homeschool my children. And now that I think about it, I have women tell me constantly “I don’t know how you do it”. LOL It just confirms to me that God has given us different gifts for different purposes and to want someone else’s would be kind of silly right? Our families are equipped in different ways and God has gifted us accordingly. He knows what He’s doing!
    Thank you for the critical thinking exercise. My brain needed it! :)

  8. Martha A. says:

    I was homeschooled, but we still had the comparing and we still do it. There is a family that I have struggled with this and one day I was talking to her and realized she had struggles too and it was not all perfect.
    It helps to remember not to judge even the ones that look right! We do not know if they are maybe just not complaining!

  9. Lisa says:

    Great reminder, Stacy. I need to still be told this even at age 38. I wish women(this includes myself of course) would just compare themselves to Jesus and not others around us. May God be gracious and forgive us for not keeping our eyes on Him.

  10. gloria says:

    Stacy,
    I am up late tonight doing some late night christmas shopping for the kids and dropped by your blog to read and catch up… what a wonderful post! And you are so right ….. we should never wish to be in another’s shoes….. as my wise mother used to say “the grass is not always greener on the other side” an that is so true.

    May you enjoy a blessed and JOYous CHRISTmas,
    gloria

  11. Amanda says:

    Wonderful post Stacy. I still compare myself to others. Since I didn’t have anyone to look to as a role model growing up, I have had to learn everything about being a wife and mother from scratch. I sometimes feel inferior to other women who seem to “have it all together”. I was shocked when someone told once me that they admire me. I thought, “Me? Do you know who I am? Trust me I am not one to admire.” I guess that’s how someone would feel if I told them how I compared myself to them.

    Blessings,
    Amanda

    PS,
    Did you get the e-mail I sent?

  12. Mrs. Lady Sofia says:

    This was a very good post, and one that I could relate to very well. I was never one of the “popular girls” in school, and so of course, back then, I thought that they “had it all.”

    Sometimes, I think that I still catch myself thinking that some woman, “has it all,” even though I don’t even know all the details of her life. It’s SO easy to try and compare our lives with other people, especially people that we don’t know.

    Each day, through the grace of God, I am slowly learning to be thankful for the blessings and gifts that God has granted to me – to really appreciate what he has bestowed to me instead of “looking down” upon His blessings and think, “But, why don’t I have THAT (you can fill in any word for the word that)?”

    At any rate, thank you for this beautiful reminder for us, as women, to be thankful, happy, and content on where God has placed us.

    P.S. Yes, the picture of your parents as a young married couple is very cute (smiles).

  13. Jeanie says:

    Wow Thank You! This was beautifully written and spoke to my heart. Your site has blessed me in so many ways. I cannot wait to get my hands on your book.

  14. Civilla says:

    That was a wonderful post. No, we don’t always know what goes on in another’s life.

  15. Emily says:

    This is such a great post and something that I needed to hear. Blogs can be such a tricky thing. There are so many godly encouraging blogs where the moms seem to have it all together and sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “I wish I had their life” trap. But they blog about what they chose to blog about. We see what they want us to see. Just like in real life. We don’t really know what goes on in anyone’s heart or home unless they choose for us too. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

  16. Ace says:

    Hi Stacey,
    Got your book (love it) and got a link to your blog from Lady Lydia.
    Great post! I was “Kim” and had two faces. No one knew that before I suited up as the captain of the cheerleaders before a big game (something I did in the attempt to keep away from my home) I was blotting make up on my Mother to hide her bruises…from my Dad.

    Little is as it seems and I have found that much of what people present is an illusion, an armour and now I pray for them. As I am sure SOMEONE out there was praying for me.

    Many Blessings :)
    Ace

  17. Civilla says:

    Have you ever read the short story published in the early 60's called "My Friend Carol"? By Myrna Blyth.

    It was about this very subject. A real tear-jerker story. American Girl first published it, and I saw it again in a book of collected short stories for teen girls published back in the 60's.

    I would print the story on my blog, but I believe it is still copyrighted, and the author is still living. If you can find the story, read it!

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