Those Perfect Friends

(Photo courtesy of stock images on FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

(Photo courtesy of stock images on FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

A recent conversation with a young mom friend brought back to mind a struggle I had years ago. We all have those friends, the ones who seem to do everything and do it well, while we’re struggling just to keep our heads above water.

One of my friends like that was a lady at church about my age with children similar in age to mine. She was not only a mom and homemaker, she worked part-time. Her house was not only picked-up, it was clean. On top of that, it was beautifully decorated. She sewed (her clothes, her children’s clothes, curtains, etc.) She did craft projects; she helped out in various ministries at church; she sang. And she was hospitable: she had people over regularly.

I don’t know how many times, after being with her, I would come home discouraged and wonder what in the world was wrong with me that I couldn’t do half that. I finally came to the place where I just had to accept that people had different gifts and capacities, and hers were more than mine.

The funny thing is, if I had talked with her about it, she probably would have felt like she wasn’t doing all that much and would’ve pointed to one of those friends in her life. She probably would have lamented to me about what she didn’t get done or couldn’t do or the ways in which she felt like a failure.

None of us has everything totally together. When friends excel in one area or another, we compare ourselves to them and end up envying them, or feeling discouraged, or trying to find a fault with them to burst the bubble of their seeming perfection. The Bible says this is not wise: “But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12b).

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. We all have different gifts, capacities, and circumstances.

2. There is always going to be someone who does what I do better than I do it.

3. It’s ok not to do everything, or even strive to do everything, like someone else. One friend I had in early married days was an organizational wiz. But one day as we were talking, she shared that she made one kind of soup and sandwich for her family’s lunch on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and another kind on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And I thought – how boring! Not to criticize her – if that’s what she and her family liked, that was fine. It did save time trying to decide what to do for lunch every day. But I decided I didn’t want to be that organized: though it took more time, I liked a little more variety.

4. We can learn from each other and appreciate each other’s gifts. Though I might not want to implement all of my organized friend’s habits, if I have an organizing question, she’d the one I’d ask for advice. I may never exercise hospitality with the ease of another friend, but I can ask her for tips or observe what she does. My friend whose home is decorated so nicely may be able to help me with a decorating dilemma.

5. Remember you only see part of the picture. Our seemingly perfect friends have their struggles, too, and probably none of them feels perfect.

6. We’re all in a state of growth. Organization used to be one of my major struggles, and whatever improvements I made, it seemed like I’d never get on top of everything. One day I realized that I would never reach 100% organizational perfection (and even if I did, it would take the rest of my life to maintain it). But that didn’t discourage me: instead it was the greatest relief. Organization (for me) is not a destination; it’s a journey. I still have areas I can improve upon, but I’m better at it that I was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.

7. Some seasons are more limiting than others. When there is a new little one in the house, or someone is ill, or the family is taking care of an elderly loved one, or a husband is working 60+ hours a week during a crunch time, our time and attention is needed in other areas. Elisabeth Elliot said about limitations, “But my limitations, placing me in a different category from…anyone else’s, become, in the sovereignty of God, gifts. For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me.”

8. Remember life is not a competition, at least in this sense. Oh, there are times of competition: athletic events, political races, perhaps even a job promotion, etc. But everyday life is not about trying to best others at every turn.

As we seek to improve in any area, our competition should be against ourselves rather than trying to be as good as or even better than someone else.

But ultimately, we need to keep our eyes on Christ, seek His will for our lives, and live to please Him. What He wants us to do may not look like what He wants others to do. Even in those everyday practical matters, He can help us or lead us to the resources we need to improve. If we’re walking with Him in His perfect will, we’re right where we need to be.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

(Sharing With Inspire me Monday, Testimony Tuesday, Wise Woman Wednesday)

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12 thoughts on “Those Perfect Friends

  1. It’s difficult when we start comparing ourselves to others. We can’t measure up because our gifts are different. Thanks for the reminders that we all have different gifts and we can’t try to be someone else. We have to be ourselves.

  2. I also find that I have to realize that I can no longer do everything that I could do when I was younger. We need to learn that our expectations and priorities will change in the different stages of life. This was a good reminder, Barbara.

  3. I feel like Facebook really plays into this — I know I’ve read studies about FB making people feel worse about themselves, and I’ve noticed it. You have some great tips for coping; excellent reminders that I can really use. Thanks, Barbara!

  4. LOVE this… I have quite a few “too perfect friends” – ha ha! Thank goodness that I came to accept & embrace that truth in my mid-30’s. I keep reminding myself that I only have to accomplish what God needs me to do that day… And, often He is much less demanding on us than we are on ourselves!

  5. Thank you for your wise and thoughts on this subject. As always, you are right on, and an encouragement to the anyone who reads what you have written.

  6. This is such a wide-spread problem. I’m teaching in grades 7-10 this year and the comparisons and feelings of inadequacies at that age are almost paralyzing. It makes my heart ache, and yet, I do the same. When am I going to get my act together and be more organized like so-and-so, when will I ever get my hair controlled like her, etc. Your advice is wise, my friend. 🙂
    Stopping by from InspireMeMonday

  7. What a fantastic list! I was going to say especially numbers 5 and 7, but they are all great. I really struggle with the comparison as a mom and I don’t think that’s uncommon. Everyone needs to read this.

  8. What a fantastic blog post. So needed for so many from so many different perspectives!

    I’m betting I’m “that perfect friend” to a few people because I do tend to have a lot of “balls in the air” at any given moment and I love house projects (or ANY kind of project), having people over, etc., etc. But I think you are also right to assume that if you had asked the lady you knew who was like this, she would have told you that she has “that perfect friend” in her own life who does more than she does (and better!). I know that I do. And I frequently feel “less than” in comparison to others.

    I love the points you make about NOT comparing, realizing that we’re given different gifts, and being willing to call on other people who are stronger than we are in certain areas who could help us by using their gifts. That requires a heavy dose of humility and is something worth focusing some attention on.

    Thanks for the good food for thought!

  9. Pingback: Favorite Posts of 2016 | Stray Thoughts

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