900 times a day.I probably say the above phrase at least 900 times a day. Sometimes it’s benign, as in “Well, at least I didn’t eat snap peas for dessert.” Most times, it’s almost viciously malignant: “Well, at least I build up my husband in public.” or “Well, at least I manage to go to work full-time and keep my house clean.” Those statements are venomous and unkind and completely unChrist-like.
Women are hard on each other. Women find themselves riled up about breastfeeding choices, and delaying having children choices, and homemaking choices, and recipe choices. We’re kind to each others’ faces, but, even if only in our own minds, we’re hard on each other. There’s almost an unwritten rule of competition. A rule that suggests that it’s not enough to be the best wife and mother to your husband and children; you also have to be the best wife and mother in existence. Our houses must be cleaner; our meals must taste better and be more elaborate; our car must be nicer; our clothes and hair must be more presentable.
And this is decidedly present in the lives of single women, too. When I was single, there was career competition, dating competition, house competition, car competition, talent competition. Through it all, there was something in me that wanted to be better, to do better, to impress more people.
As it turns out, competing against women isn’t the answer. Sure, sometimes my dessert is better or my house is cleaner. But just as often, my meal doesn’t all land on the table when it should or my cat throws up on the floor in the middle of dinner (or a “discussion” with my husband.) Or I run late to work, and I have a bad hair day, and I don’t manage to get make-up put on, and I spill coffee on my shirt about 15 miles from my house and 15 miles to my office.
I’d like to be bold; to draw a line in the sand and declare, “No more competing! No more internal degradation of other women!” But, you see, I know myself. Or rather, I know myself well enough to know that I’m not a line-in-the-sand type of girl. I’m a slow and steady girl. I fall down a lot and usually wind up on the wrong side of the line in the sand, the line that I drew myself and declared that I would never cross again. So instead, I offer my sincere apologies for fostering competition. For gossiping. For making life even harder than it already is. And for not always seeing the beauty in the mundane details of life. And I’d like to express my gratitude to those women who are real with me. Who admit they don’t have it all together. Who, even in that way, express to me that it’s OK that I don’t either. Who encourage me by being flawed. Thank you ladies.
10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:10-11