by: Staci Stallings
Last time we talked about comparisons and judgments and how when you begin to compare your likes and dislikes to others’, you get into trouble pretty quickly. Today, I want to go a bit deeper into the “forest” of where those two can lead you so that you understand NOT to take those roads that at first seem so innocent.
So let’s say for a moment that I’m good at writing, reading, researching and academic pursuits, and let’s say for argument sake that Carolina is good at cooking and cleaning. Now, God says that this is how He created us and that both are good, both have their place and are validly valuable. But, see, Carolina and I have never been shown how God sees things. No, we look at each other thought man’s eyes, and very quickly, this goes off the rails.
I look at her and my comparisons with and about myself start to flow… She stays home. Why would she do that? She’s clearly not contributing to society as much as I am. Look at her, she didn’t even go to college, and she could have, too. She’s smart enough. She’s just lazy.
Carolina looks at me and her judgments flow as well. Look at her, neglecting her family like that. Did you know that they eat out almost every day of the week? Sure her kids wear designer clothes, but their noses are always in the air too. And I’ll bet she’s a real witch to those who work for her. I mean, look at how she carries herself, how she looks down on others…
Now, we have both subscribed, totally from the outside, meanings and motives that most likely have no basis in reality at all. Because we feel justified in comparing and judging each others’ likes and dislikes. Doing that leads inevitably to hypercompetition.
You probably understand the word “competition,” right? It’s a game and there’s a score and a scorekeeper, and one person or team wins and the other doesn’t, and then everyone goes home.
But here’s the thing, without God in the middle of our likes and dislikes, we don’t just compete on the basketball court or the football field. We start competing EVERYWHERE. And not just competing with a scorecard, but hypercompeting about everything.
So here are Carolina and I, and we are now into “hypercompeting” mode. She starts counting (even unconsciously) how often or not often I come to church, with my family and without my family. She starts watching my children for misbehavior so she can put a “score” in her column. I start watching for what her kids are wearing and what their car looks like. I give myself “points” when I judge that my life is better than hers.
You know how easy it is to fall into this trap. In fact, it seems like life these days is set up this way. Everything is a competition or can be made into one.
On the NFL Network, they compete in football. You have the networks for baseball almost around the clock in season. The Food Network has cooking competitions 24/7.
There are competitions about the best movies (Golden Globes and the Oscars), the best music (the Grammys and Radio Disney Awards), the best television shows (People’s Choice, and VMA’s). And this doesn’t just start after we know what we’re doing. In high school, there are competitions almost literally for everything–math, science, writing, history; track, volleyball, football, and basketball; band, choir, solos and ensembles, drama. Even as young as elementary this starts with music memory and art memory, ready writing and maps, graphs, and charts.
EVERYTHING is a competition, which quickly leads us into Envy for the losers and Pride for the winners (two of the deadly sins!).
My daughter is really good at a lot of things, and she competes in some of them regularly (she’s played basketball and done track, sung in the choir for competitions and done math and science in competition). She also loves to play the piano, and she’s really good at it. When I suggested she play for a competition, she said, “No. I need something that is just about doing and not about competing.” Wise girl, that one!
She’s so right. Why can we not just do things because we love them anymore?
Why can I not just like to play baseball and go out and hit the ball with my friends? Why does it have to be organized with a coach and teams and schedules and practices?
Why is it imperative to send my artwork into a competition? Can I not just enjoy painting or drawing for its own sake?
And what of Carolina and I? Can she not just enjoy cooking and cleaning and caring for her family without worrying about someone judging her for that? Or how about me? Can I write and learn and read and pass that knowledge on without having to look over my shoulder and justify my likes and dislikes?
It’s a good question. In the next two posts, we’ll look at why we do this hypercompetition thing without even really thinking about it, and once you DO think about it, you may well be ready to step OFF of that merry-go-round that is never going to get you anywhere and into the life God really meant for you to live!