If she can do it, I can do it?
I had finally taken a seat after putting my little one down for his morning nap, and reheating my coffee for what felt like the hundredth time. I settled into my chair to enjoy the sweetness of quiet and caffeine; one of my favorite, but most rarely enjoyed, combinations. Rather than savoring the bliss of that moment, I almost instinctually picked up my phone and started scrolling through Instagram.
“Aw, how cute is she with her new baby.” Double tap, swipe, swipe.
“She has a lovely home" Double tap, swipe, swipe.
"Where did they travel to? I want to go there" Hesitate, double tap, swipe, swipe.
"How many followers do they have?" ... Clicks to personal profile.
“If she can do it, I can do it.”
Easy competition math. "Competitor" +1 = They win.
So, what was intended to be a brief moment to recharge instead left me feeling anxious and unsettled. So quickly the noise of this world overshadowed my intention of rest. Throughout the remainder of my day, that phrase haunted me. “If she can do it, I can do it.” What was at the root of this thought? Was it true? Was it lovely? (Philippians 4:8) When held captive for examination (2 Corinthians 10:5), did this thought conform to this world or the character of God? (Romans 12:2). In stripped-down honesty, the root of this type of thinking was not Godly at all. The root was competition. It was pride. All of the sudden I felt the need to win in an area that I had no desire to before. I was drawn to walk down a path I was not called.
There are many forms of harmless competition in our society. In athletic competitions, teams or individuals compete to see who is best at a particular sport. In economics, businesses compete to drive prices down for the consumer. There are competitions to see who can eat the most hotdogs. We call "front seat" and "dibs." We exclaim, “last one to the car is a rotten egg!" If you feel so inclined, you may compete in the World Wife Carrying Competition. Look it up. I wish I were kidding! There are thousands of ways to compete - all harmless. Well, maybe not the wife carrying competition!
Dear ones, I want to be honest. There is also a form of competition that is insidious and destructive. This type of competition steals from the deep, satisfying peace of calling to pay the never-ending debt of "more". It tells you that you are not enough. Worse, it tells you that you should be better than those who surround you. James puts it this way, "But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic." (James 3:14-15) Wow, James coming in hot! "Demonic", he says! That is no joking matter. With quantifiable measurements such as likes, and followers, the urge to compete is stronger than ever.
But in the end, what are we even competing for? What is the prize? What is the end goal? Webster Dictionary defines competition as "the rivalry of supremacy." The word supremacy reminds me of God's character. He is supreme over all. His greatness has no match! Our lives are a showcase to His glory, and competition with each other is just a distraction from giving honor to the one who really deserves it, Jesus.
If this is something you relate to, let me encourage you. You do not have to compete. Not now, not ever. The motivation that drives your heart does not need to come from a place of winning. God has a plan for your life, and that plan is not a zero-sum game. You do not have to compete to prove who you are, because your identity is in your creator. You are His masterpiece; His child; His beloved. You do not have to compete to prove what you do, because the supreme God purposes your calling. Isaiah 14:27 says, "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" How cool is that?
As I heard the faint stirs of my little one waking from his nap, I closed my eyes and asked God to give me wisdom. I asked him to help me fight the deceptive lie that says we need to compete so we can prove who we are, or what we do. I will stand in grace knowing that I am precisely the woman God has made me to be. I am doing exactly what he has called me to do. I do not have to compete. You, do not have to compete.