by Danetta Kellar
Growing up, I loved Little House on the Prairie. I raced home from school each day to watch it and dream about life on the Prairie surrounded by love and wisdom, hard work and simplicity. I was Laura, and my daily braids testified to my adoration. Freckles and crooked teeth completed the picture. I might have been laughed at and bullied on the school bus, but I was Laura Ingalls on the inside, and no one could take my confidence away.
Now I am all grown up with a freckle-faced daughter of my own.
Last year we read the Little House books together and almost made it through the whole set.This Christmas morning, a gorgeous, log cabin-shaped box of the entire TV series on DVD was waiting under the tree, much to our delight. Needless to say, we are having a very Laura year.
But now it is my little girl who is identifying with Laura. It is my young dreamer who is asking to wear her hair braided and to please go without shoes. Her laughter is like joy bells as she exclaims, “Laura has my brain!"
I, on the other hand, am seeing Ma for the first time. No doubt I saw her on all those childhood TV afternoons so long ago, but she was just a calm fixture, serving in the background of Laura's exciting adventures. Certainly not someone with whom to identify. Long for, perhaps, but not understand.
Little House on the Prairie has outed me this time around.
I have grown up and moved forward into the season of life I once dreamed about. I am now a mother, a wife, a member of my community. And I am identifying not with Laura now, but with her mother.
My daughter looked at me, a question mark curling along her forehead. “What is the matter, Mommy?” she asked.
I mumbled something under my breath and told her to hurry up and get ready for bed because I was TIRED!
Inside, a tug of war was going on in me that made my heart twist and lurch. A battle of comparison between Ma, and me. The ideal mother, and the real mother. Gentleness, and harshness. Graciousness, and complaining. Quietness, and oh, such loudness!
We could not be any more different, Ma and I.
And it made me miserable, I longed so much to be like her. I felt sick with the want of it, and the not measuring up.
Comparison is the thief of peace.
There is a fine line between being inspired by someone, and wallowing in condemnation because we don’t seem to measure up.
We compare ourselves and we just don't seem to be enough.
The thief does his work, and our joy is taken from us.
In those moments I forget that I can choose my response. I can be inspired by the real-life, historical Caroline Ingalls, or I can compare myself to her and sink into depression because I am not exactly like her.
I can allow comparison to eat away the fabric of my soul, until all I have left is a threadbare remnant of the hope I was aiming for so long ago when I began to dream. When I was Laura, the sky was the limit. I had my whole life ahead of me to get it right.
Now I am Ma, and others are depending on me. They are watching with innocent eyes while I make my choice to either be inspired to be a better person or become depressed and grasping after standards that belong to someone else.
I choose to be inspired.
I am surrounded by beautiful, talented women from all walks of life and culture. Their gift to me is themselves. I choose to be inspired and helped by the ways we are different, and together we will shine forth God's glory like it was meant to shine. Together.
And I will choose to be inspired instead of irritated by Caroline Ingalls. It helps that I saw an episode last week where she threw a tantrum of sorts. And I have learned recently also that she has a temper. Ma might be more like me than I thought.
Are you irritable and grouchy, unsettled and discouraged today? Check yourself and make sure there isn’t a hidden area where you are comparing yourself and allowing that thief to steal your peace.
God has gifted each of us differently, and we need each other. Be your own beautiful expression of His glory. Join the conversation and share how you have overcome the temptation to compare!