Our sons school had a marathon a few weeks ago and he came home and said, “I wish I was as fast as Lucas. I can’t run as fast as him.” I encouraged him to practice and do his best and if he still isn’t the fastest kid, then that’s ok because he tried his hardest. Every day he would practice running and I would just tell him, “you don’t have to BE the best, just do YOUR best.” At graduation, I was talking with his teacher and she said, “You know, your son Brax doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, he is all heart.” I was so proud to hear that. I don’t care if he’s the fastest or slowest, it’s his heart that I care about. His heart will far outlast his speed, and I definitely don’t see adults competing over who can win a foot race! (With the exception of my Grandpa Adi who challenges everyone to a foot race.)
It reminded me of when I was a cheerleader and one of the girls was really good at tumbling. She could do flips and aerials and all kinds of neat tricks, I was so tall and awkward I could barely do a back handspring, I think I was the last on the team to learn. One day the moms were watching us practice and one mom said a remark to my mom, “my daughter is working on her aerial twist, what can Lishele do?” She asked with a smug voice, knowing this wasn’t my strong suite. My mom replied, “my Lishelley’s (ya she called me that) strengths are far beyond tumbling. My daughter has the biggest heart of anyone and if your girls ever get hurt doing their fancy twists, my daughter will be the first to help them. That’s why I’m proud of her.” Sure enough, the smug moms daughter fell five minutes later and twisted her ankle and I was the first to her aid. My mom looked a little smug now and said, “what did I tell you? There she is helping her.”
Just as I cared about my sons heart and my mom bragged about mine, that’s how God feels about us. He gave us all different strengths and talents. When we compare ourselves to others and we fall short in our own mind, I think God would say, “that’s not your strength, your right. Now look at the strengths I gave you. If you wanted to be just like that other person, then who would be you?”
So often, we compare the things we have little control over: who’s fastest, who’s prettiest, who makes the most money, who’s the funniest or the smartest. Those are all great qualities and can be improved but some people are born with certain qualities. No matter how much I practiced tumbling, I just don’t have the coordination to be the best of the best. Most of these qualities we strive for don’t even last. Looks fade, money runs out, we get slower with age etc. Our character is what really matters. And we CAN grow our character. Instead of trying to be the coolest or the richest, we should strive to be the kindest, most loving, generous, and thoughtful. Think if we worked on our hearts and who we are instead of just “winning the imaginary race.”
If we had strong character, we would celebrate each others strengths instead of thinking we need to possess them too! When I see a well put together mom with a perfect body, nice hair, a clean home, lots of friends and influence and well behaved kids-it’s natural that I feel jealous at first, or think, “what am I doing wrong?” “Why don’t I have what she has?” And lately, I’m trying to change my thoughts to, “way to go mom! It’s not easy but you’re killing it!” Because just like me, she compares herself. Just like me, she doesn’t feel good enough at times. Just like me, she has struggles and strengths.
We have to stop the rat race. We have to stop thinking we have to be perfect. God made us imperfect for a reason. Not so that we would beat ourselves up or wear ourselves out trying to reach perfection. He made us imperfect so that we would learn to rely on His perfection and not our own. So celebrate someone else’s strengths and be thankful for your own and the rest-well, give it to God and ask for His perfect strength.