I Don’t Want to Be the Evil Queen

One of my favorite things about being a mom of little ones was having an excuse to watch Disney movies again. My girls were the perfect ages when Toy Story and The Lion King came out. Woody and Jessie, Mufasa and Simba and Nala moved right into our home and became part of our family. In fact, Randi had plans to marry Simba—and she still hasn’t forgiven me for throwing away her light-up Simba boots that were way too small—and way too smelly to keep wearing in July.

I also enjoyed getting reacquainted with the Disney princesses—Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty. But there is one Disney movie I don’t particularly care for, Snow White. But it isn’t Snow White’s fault—with her lily skin and lyrical voice and innocent eyes.

No, it’s the Evil Queen’s fault—and that magic mirror and shiny, poison apple. You remember…

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” The Evil Queen would gaze into her magic mirror, waiting to hear that she is the most beautiful one in the land.

You probably know Disney animated Snow White in 1937.  But I bet you don’t know the Evil Queen spoke those words long before then. In fact, she first appeared in Grimms’ Fairy Tales in 1812. That’s over 200 years ago!

I wonder—with all the technology we have in 2016—how the Evil Queen might satisfy her vanity today. I think it might go something like this:

“Selfie, selfie on my phone. Tell me who’s the hottest one.”

With Facebook and Instagram and all the filters and editing options, the Evil Queen could plaster her perfected face all over social media for all the kingdom to see.

Snow White’s natural beauty wouldn’t stand a chance!

I bet you can imagine how Snow White would feel…looking at all those polished poses of the Queen in her majestic crown or the Queen donning her royal robe or the Queen riding in her stately carriage.

We know…because that’s how we feel sometimes when we look at pictures on social media. Isn’t it?

But the pictures aren’t the problem. What we do with the pictures is the problem.

Like the Evil Queen, we start to compare. Ourself. Our marriage. Our children. The dinner we made (or not).

And sometimes—a lot of the time—we find out we’re not the fairest one of all. And then we feel all Dopey and Grumpy and we sure aren’t Happy.

But we can’t escape it…because our society is ALL about comparing…and not just on social media. Think about it. Is there ANYTHING we don’t compare?

Who has the cutest haircut? Or the biggest diamond? Or the thinnest hips? Or the newest car? Or the fanciest house? Or the smartest kid? Or the coolest vacation? Or the handsomest husband? Or the highest degree? Or the fastest 5K? Or the healthiest 401K? Or the holy-est heart?

Everything is a competition! Even the yucky things.

Someone else had the longest labor and the itchiest poison ivy and the biggest migraine and the scariest car crash and the meanest IRS auditor and the hottest hot flash and the largest hemorrhoid (because of that longest labor!).  And they are proud of it!

Did you notice all the –est words? Cuteest. Smartest. Fastest. In my book, -est is a four-letter word. Because when we focus on the –est, we want it. And it costs us.

I should know. I’ve done plenty of comparing. But I gave that up a long time ago–because I learned a few things in my quest for the -est:

#1.  Someone is always going to do more have more be more than me—or my kids or my husband or my dog.

We call them the Joneses. I don’t like the Joneses (not you Ella—those metaphorical Joneses)! Because if I’m trying to collect more –ests than them, I’ll be playing catch-up my whole life. That’s no fun!

And those Jones kids…my goodness. How many ball courts and ball fields have we left thinking less about what our kid did right, and more about what that Jones kid did best? Admit it. We’ve had those tense conversations in the car on the way home—the one where we rob our athlete of the joy of the game because he wasn’t the b-est.

Maybe in your family it isn’t a ball game but a piano recital or a talent show or a report card or a scouting award instead. Fill in the blank. But when we compare, we damage our kids. We may not mean to, but we put pressure on them to be better…no, to be the best. They get the message we send when we compare: “You’re not good enough.” Ouch.

#2.  I don’t like my heart when I compare. It feels ugly.

When we compare, someone wins and someone loses. And when we feel like the loser, we don’t truly celebrate with others when it’s their turn to get the prize. Instead we list all the reasons they should have lost or the ways they must have cheated or the reasons we deserved to win. 

But…I learned when I choose not to compare, I get to share in others’ joy—and that joy comes around A LOT when you’re celebrating all your friends, not just yourself. And joy feels so much better than all those yucky feelings we get to let go of.

Joy makes my heart open up—instead of shrivel up like the Evil Queen’s. Imagine what society would be like if instead of comparing each other, we celebrated each other! Truthfully, I don’t see that happening, at least not on a large scale. But what if it happened in our little circles?

What if tomorrow when your friend’s daughter wins the award of excellence in the art show, and your son only gets a participation ribbon, you celebrate the little girl…and you mean it? Or when your co-worker gets an “atta-girl” from the boss, but that really hard thing you did doesn’t even get recognized. How would it feel to truly celebrate your co-worker rather than paste on a plastic smile of resentment?

And how would it feel if all the people you celebrate started celebrating you? What a party!

#3.  When I compare, I am discontent.

When we compare, someone else will always have a better marriage, a happier family, more things, and fewer wrinkles. (Or so it seems.)

And all of a sudden we are no longer content. We are discontent—and discontentment is dangerous.

It kills relationships because we want our husband and kids to be like the husband and kids that one mom always posts on Facebook. They seem so perfect! (Believe me, they’re not.)

Discontentment destroys financial peace because we’re not happy with our toys; we want someone else’s toys, which we can’t afford so we go into debt. And there are always more toys.

Discontentment crushes self-esteem because we maximize our flaws and grow blind to our good features.

And woe be to your friend who seems to live a charmed life…because your discontentment can ravage that friendship. It’s the kind of thing that happens slowly, that sneaks up on you over time…and it’s deadly.

Instead of discontentment, we have to choose to be content. It may feel forced at first, but when contentment takes hold, we can enjoy what we do have and give up the never-ending, exhausting struggle to acquire what we don’t have.

Because my circumstances are mine and yours are yours, I don’t want to compare. Instead, I’d rather follow this wisdom I stumbled upon several years ago:

Don’t compare yourself to the best others can do. Compare yourself to the best you can do.

So let’s step away from the mirror. There’s no magic in it. Besides, we don’t want to be the Evil Queen. She falls off a cliff, gets smashed by a boulder, and eaten by vultures. Serves her right.

How has comparing affected you? What in your life would be better if you stopped comparing it to whatever or whomever? Why is it hard to be content? Leave a comment below!

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6 Comments

  1. Brittany D. says:

    “Discontentment crushes self-esteem because we maximize our flaws and grow blind to our good features.” This hits me hard. I have always struggled with accepting the way I look. For whatever reason, I think the scale defines me. The older I get (and I’m not really OLD), the harder it is to find time to keep in shape. Not to mention I make excuses. Pretty much everyday I constantly compare my size to other people, and there are times I let this idea of perfection eat away at me. And the mirror is just EVIL sometimes! I forget all the good things about me! I have to learn to be content with MYSELF because it’s who I am! Thanks for your words of wisdom!!!

    • Karen says:

      Brittany, I bet a lot of the moms on this journey could erase your name from your post and put theirs in its place. I know I could! We need to make a pact to minimize our flaws and maximize our good features! (And crush our mirrors…except for that 7 years of bad luck thing.) 🙂

  2. LM says:

    Right on sister…..your words of wisdom are so dead on. We must live OUR own lives and do the best we, individually, can do and quit comparing what we have with what others have. We have to learn to be content with who and what you are as an individual so we can truly be happy and content!! Celebrate others and be content with what God has blessed you with!!

  3. Sandy Slusher says:

    Love, love this. Something I do all the time unfortunately. Need to learn a huge lesson from this. Thank you!! I’m still a work in progress and having to learn each day.

  4. Laurin says:

    Karen, this was so “right on” & amen & amen! I just read on Ann voskamp’s blog today all a/b discontentment, etc…here’s one quote I wrote down on my chalkboard in my kitchen so that I would purposefully meditate on it each time I saw it: “…you can give up the need to compete with the world-when you accept being complete in Christ…” Yes, please, & thank You, Jesus!

    • Karen says:

      I’m heading to Ann’s blog right now! Thanks for sharing, Laurin. I have her book on my counter…#1 on my summer reading list.

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