Pinterest Paralysis

It was a rare moment to behold. All three of my children, ages ten, seven, and three, playing happily together.

It was spontaneous–a box became a spaceship and their imaginations took off. But then their imaginations took off in separate directions. Oh, the arguing that ensued! Whining, grabbing, physically blocking the toy, and 3-year-old boy destruction noises. It quickly became very un-fun, especially for this Momma who was having to listen to it all. I had to turn this moment around.

I let them work it out while I devised another plan. We moved houses less than a year ago and saved some of the biggest boxes for a future rainy day to use as a something fun for the kids. I had saved websites and images of fun box projects on my Pinterest account, the go-to resource to jog my creativity juices. So out came the boxes and my Pinterest account, ready to whip up some fun for all ages, a fort big enough to be shared by all.

I wish I had a video for what happened next.

Me. In a practically empty room, surrounded by half a dozen boxes, box cutter in hand, completely paralyzed. My thoughts began racing. “Do I build a pirate ship? Or a space ship? Do I have any spray paint? This boat has a banner hanging on the mast. That firetruck has a siren light on top. Or should I do a play kitchen? Or a puppet stage? Do we have puppets? Do I have time to make puppets?!” 

I had Pinterest Paralysis.

In all of my hundreds of options, I was unable to choose even one. Fueled by my Pinterest pride, my box creation had to be better than all the other cardboard cut-outs. You see comparison is the thief of joy. I was taking a tool, in itself not a bad thing, and allowing my worth to be determined by how Pinterest-worthy I could make a box. A box! What a fool I am! I was authorizing social media to measure my value, and everyone else was winning. And what had started as a fun surprise for my kids suddenly turned into a lesson for me in nurturing corrupted.

God made me, He made all women, with certain capacities, one being nurturing. I felt a pull to nurture, to draw out creativity and imagination in my kids. I wanted to foster a sense of playfulness and togetherness in them. But in pursuing a solution, I lost sight of the goal. My goal turned into “anything you can do I can do better” and if I can’t do it better, then I’ll just give up. Talk about self-promotion and self-protection, all in one moment! My goal became about me, and when I am my own goal, there is always disillusion. The joy of creating and fostering togetherness fell flat in the face of comparison and pride.

I was allowing my worth to be determined by how Pinterest-worthy I could make a box.

So what could I do? Fight to win my creativity comparison battle and leave my kids arguing in another room, pushing  dinner time to 10pm? Or I could just admit defeat, clean up my boxes, separate the children, and dole out consequences? Or? Or, I could get off the pendulum completely and think about others instead of myself.

DSC_0001I cut and taped and folded, and in 15 minutes had a workable box fort ready to be played in. I even put two windows in it, because if there was just one window there would be arguing and we’d be right back  where we started, am I right? One of my girls came into the room and gasped, “Oh, Mommy! What are you doing?” I told her I had made a box big enough for all of them to play in and decorate. She didn’t say, “But aren’t you going to spray paint a chevron pattern and put twinkle lights inside and monogram it?” What she said was: “Gosh! You must have worked on that all day, because it is huge and even has windows. Thanks Mom!” and she ran to get her siblings and show them.

This week the box has been a space ship, a homework hut, and a turtle-shaped creature airplane. I have enjoyed listening to them pretend, and yes, argue. But I have also enjoyed knowing that in my moment of paralysis, the Holy Spirit quietly nudged me one step closer to Him. I am a woman made in His image, serving and loving the ones He has put in my life, for His glory.

– Molly Burns, Pelham

What or who in your life do you find yourself in comparison battles with? How do comparison, fear, and pride keep you from loving those around you well?