We were driving home from a birthday party the other night and we had left early because my youngest was on the verge of a meltdown. Because I was handling all three by myself that night, I decided it would should make our exit prior to the meltdown and not in the middle of it - mommas, do you feel me?
We headed out of the parking lot and saw our friends still hanging out on the playground and having a good time. As I looked in my rear view mirror and saw my oldest with the fattest bottom lip ever. I didn’t want to ask - I really knew better - but I did.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked.
(That might be a slight dramatization, it actually may have been more like “What’s WRONG? You just went to a birthday party, ate fried chicken and had cake. What could possibly be wrong with you at this moment?”)
He answered, “Why do we always have to leave early? It’s not fair! They get to stay and actually, they get to stay up until 11:00! And why did they get to go outside without their parents and we didn’t (momma note: they weren’t supposed to!) Mom, it’s just not fair! Everyone always get to do things we don’t get to do.”
My momma heart was racing at this moment. Not because I was filled with compassion, but more that I was filled with annoyance. I know these parents - they may have stayed up until 11:00 but they don’t get to. They weren’t supposed to go outside - in fact, they got in trouble - but Brady doesn’t see that - he only sees what he isn’t allowed to do. (Do you see where this is going?)
I took a deep breath and started in : “Brady, it doesn’t matter to me what other people get to do. It never will. You have a 7:30 bedtime on school nights because you struggle every morning getting up for school. You will not get a later bedtime until you don’t struggle getting out of bed. You can always come talk to me about something you think is not fair, but not while you’re pouting and you certainly may not use the argument that so & so is getting to do something you aren’t. That will never persuade us. You have a little brother and a little sister and I have to make decisions as to what is best for all of us.”
In that moment something echoed inside me. I hate it when parenting lessons do that.
I had been struggling with comparison myself in the recent days - as I often do - and I had been begging God to have someone else's assignment. I had been looking over my shoulder at every other person and the results that they were seeing and telling the Lord that if He really wanted what was best, why wouldn't He give me the same thing?
I have been trying to be obedient - my heart has been in the right place, really it has - but then why am I not getting the "desires of my heart" like scripture tells me I will?
Scripture tells us that God works all things together for good for those who love Him. But I get hung up on this idea of “good”. I realized that good is what we can see from our earthly perspective. On this side of heaven, we see good as successful, viral and happy. But what God sees is eternally oriented - what circumstances would allow us to impact the Kingdom the most?
So when I question what God is doing, calling me to do, or what is happening to me or in the world around me, I have to remind myself of this :
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9
Does the bible ever teach that God has OUR best in mind? No. Not that I can find, at least. Scripture tells us that He plans to prosper us and not to harm us, for a future and a hope. He tells us that all things work together for good, not that all things are good or are good for us.
He is making decisions based on what is best for the Kingdom. For all of us. God is trying to get as much glory as possible, right? And a lot of times, based on my personal experience, that happens when we come from behind. The glory gets given when we are at a loss as to how to go on by ourselves.
God receives the most glory when we are striving and failing to get what we want, and then He comes from around the bend and gives us way more than we were going for in the first place. I'm thinking about redeemed marriages, lost jobs, prodigal hearts. When we have no choice but to give Him the credit, the Kingdom is exalted - not us.
And that, my friends, is what is best.
So next time I get stuck in a rut of comparison… a rut of whining about what He has called me to do compared to your story or platform, I want to remember this lesson - that it’s not about me, but about the Kingdom. My only job is to be obedient in my part so that I can play a small role in what is best for all of us.