A couple of years ago, my husband and I tried to read through the Bible in a year. I didn’t make it all the way through, but it was a great experience to try. We read it in chronological order, in the order it was supposedly written in, so sometimes we were reading from different passages each day instead of simply reading straight through.
In the beginning, we read some of the beginning of Genesis, and then jumped into reading the whole book of Job before we came back to Genesis again.
I found it really interesting to see the way God interacted with different characters of the Bible in different ways. It struck me, after reading about God's story with Job, and then moving to God's story with Abram, that God really does move towards as specific individuals. His way of (to use a Christian phrase) ‘working in Job’s life’ was way different than with Abram. There’s not a cookie-cutter formula when it comes to the story of His interactions with us.
As a mom, this really speaks to me. There are so, SO many opportunities for comparing myself to other moms and their stories. For example, just spend some time in a room full of women discussing their labor and deliveries stories. There's always that subtle comparison aspect. The one-up feel. The nonchalant asking of whether you had an epidural or a C-section. Or talk to that same group of women about their newborn parenting philosophy. Did they let their baby 'CIO'? How long does their baby sleep at night? At what age did they achieve the elusive sleeping-through-the-night phenomenon?
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE knowing the stories of my friend's lives. It can be so hysterical to compare notes and find out personal details. Talking about ‘women stuff’ is a blast. It’s one of my favorite things to do. However, here’s what I’m talking about: it’s definitely NOT my favorite thing when the simple sharing of who we are and what’s happened in our lives turns into something darker. Sometimes it morphs into the same discussion on the surface, but under the surface, women are also trying to decide if there's something wrong with them, with their story, with how they did things. They’re wondering if they’re ‘good enough.’ And they're defending the validity of what they experienced.
And that's where this ‘God with Job/God with Abram’ things speaks to me. God was uniquely orchestrating each one of their life experiences to have a unique God-encounter with Him. It's totally different how He expounds on the magnificence of His creation to Job, and how He promises Abram an heir when he's an old man and makes him wait even longer for the promise to materialize. His story for their lives is the same in that He is using the circumstances to draw them to Himself, but they’re completely different in the way He goes about it.
The hopeful conclusion for me in all of this is that God interacts with ME uniquely, too. And the way He moves towards my mom friends to get ahold of their hearts is also completely different than the way He moves towards me.
So, let me suggest this. Maybe it's not so much about whether or not I had the epidural, or if my birth was completely natural or not. Maybe my labor was tailored specifically for me and what God wanted to work in me. Maybe He had unique plans for what He wanted to lead ME through and how I'd encounter Him in the middle of it all. What if how my newborn acts is less about how perfect of a parent I am, and more about what God is doing inside of me? If my friend's baby sleeps 12 hours straight through the night at 3 weeks old, and mine wakes up after 45 minutes every stinking time, maybe it's not about whether I'm a good mom or not...but about God and the things He is working into me, the ways He's stretching me to learn to hope in Him in a new way, the methods He’s using to refine me. Maybe my friend with the easy labor and the easy baby needs grace from God. Maybe I need to go through the deep waters. But whatever He’s doing, it is most certainly specific and individualized, and there is no room for comparison in the light of His faithful pursuit of His glory being revealed in each of our lives.