A Life Stirred

On Competition and Comparison

on March 3, 2014

If you know me at all, you probably know that I’m a pretty competitive person.  It’s not my most becoming characteristic.  I just really like to win.  Doesn’t matter what the game is—I need.to.win.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a game.  I’ll make a competition out of everything. 

“Oh, average newborn birth weight is 7.5 pounds?  Well, Joanna was 9 pounds 2 ounces.  I WIN!!”

See?  I win.  (Yes, I will shamelessly insert pictures of my adorable kids.)

The face of winning.

I told you it wasn’t an attractive quality.

It’s really only a helpful quality for those awkward ice breaker games.  I will be enthusiastic.  People will laugh with (at?) me.  I will break that ice.  I will be the best ice breaker ever!!!  (I have issues.)

All that to say, my competitive streak causes me to have issues with comparisons.  Because really, competitiveness is just a nice word for comparing.  It’s lining myself up next to someone else and seeing who wins.  Appropriate when you’re talking about football teams, but not so much when it’s my life against yours.

It steals my joy.

This has been rocking my world lately.

This has been rocking my world lately.

Maybe an example would be helpful.   Or at least it’ll show you the depth that I struggle with this.  Here comes the real.  Brace yourself.

So, I have two beautiful little girls.  What’s that?  You’d like a picture?  Well, ok, fine, if you insist…

See?  So cute!

I wasn’t kidding.  They’re beautiful inside and out!

I love them lots and lots.  I enjoy our days.   Joanna is hilarious and a bit OCD and just too cute.  Claire is mobile and intense and also too cute.  I enjoy my little family.

But then there’s that nagging voice, begging me to compare….and I give in.  I compare my family size to yours.  I compare our kids.  I compare post-pregnancy bodies.  I compare parenting styles.  I compare incomes.  I compare marital relationships.  I compare blogs, decorating skills, houses, craftiness, friendships, clothing, and on and on and on.  (That list wasn’t even hard to come up with…I compare so much!)

And where I fall short (and I do fall short), I start to feel like I’m losing.  Like I’m behind.  Like my family isn’t legit anymore.  Like I’m not a legit mom anymore.  Like I should do more, be more, have more.

Joy? GONE!

Contentment?  GONE!

It’s rough.

And it’s really, really dumb.

There will always be someone out there who can “beat” me.  Sure, I could turn my focus the other way, and find the people that I beat.  But that’s exalting myself at someone else’s expense.  And yeah, that’s not cool.

So, it comes down to being content with where God has me and how He made me and what He’s given me.  It’s letting go of my competitive streak.  Which is really, really hard to do when you’re as competitive as I am.

BUT I will not settle.  Perhaps I am naturally competitive (I am).  I don’t get to say, “Oh, well, that’s just the way I am.”  God is refining me and asking me to let go of who I am on my own.  He wants to transform me.  He wants to change the way I think (Romans 12:2 in the NLT).

I believe that I don’t have to be competitive about everything.  I don’t have to live my life in comparison to yours.  For freedom, Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).  Bring on the freedom!!  Bring on the joy!!  Bring on the contentment!!

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