Sorry, I’m Not Going to Compete With You

ballin

I am an athlete – a natural-born leader and competitor.  When I played basketball, I would size up my competition, know their weaknesses, and exploit them as much as I could.  I didn’t want to show any mercy and if I could beat a team to the ground, then that’s what I would do.  I never wanted anyone to say that they worked harder than me.  I wanted to be the best.  I wanted to win.  I wanted to intimidate my competition; hence, the picture.

In sports, there is a clear winner and loser.  At the end of a game, you always know which team or competitor was the best.  In life, things are not that cut-and-dry.  Given my personality, it can be very difficult for me to turn off my competitive nature.  But in the game of life, especially motherhood, no one wins when we compete with each other.

I had been struggling with that good, old-fashioned ‘less-than-perfect’ feeling that creeps up much too often.  Whether or not this woman knew it, I was trying to compete with her and I was losing.  She had just completed yet another DIY project, her house was immaculate, she was always the first to volunteer to make a wonderful meal for someone, her kids always seemed to be well-behaved, and she was darn-near a size two.  Meanwhile, I am the least crafty woman I know, my house is clean but lived-in, I will send someone a gift card to a restaurant rather than cook, my kids are often well-behaved yet they are still completely unpredictable, and I can’t even find size two in the rear-view mirror.

To be honest, I was beyond frustrated.  I don’t know why I felt like I had to compete with her, I just did.  It got to the point that the sight of her or the mention of her name began to irritate me.  At one point, I said to my husband something along the lines of, “She just thinks she’s so perfect.  Gag me.”  A few days after I said that, a mutual friend had called and asked me to pray for this woman.  As it turned out, she was struggling with something very real and difficult – something I can’t imagine going through.  I don’t believe this was a coincidence.  God knew my heart and my attitude needed to change and he knew that praying for this woman – that I insisted on competing with – was the way to do that.

By praying for her I realized several things.  First of all, competing was useless.  I was comparing apples and oranges.  Our lives and situations were not even close to the same.  It wasn’t a level playing field, but it never is no matter who we may be competing with.  This is real life, and real life is much more unpredictable and messy than a basketball game.

Secondly, what was I trying to accomplish?  Did I want to make myself feel better?  Did I want to make her feel badly?  Like I said, odds are she had and still has no clue that I felt this way.  Regardless of what my goal was, I suddenly realized that either outcome was flawed.  There will always be women out there that I can make feel pretty bad about themselves.  Likewise, there are tons of women who can make me feel just as badly.  Why in the world would I want to make someone feel horrible?  Didn’t this whole thing start because I was feeling lousy about myself?

competition

Finally, it occurred to me that God has equipped me to deal with my own life.  I will never be perfect, because if I were it would take away my reliance on God.  All that time, I had been trying to fit myself into this mold that didn’t match my life – it matched her life.  I am never going to make a bunch of DIY projects around my house, that’s just not what I’m into.  I am also not likely to make a bunch of meals for people, it doesn’t mean that I am not helping them out just because I go the gift card route (although, I have to watch that I am giving for the right reason and not just for the attention).  Also, God has called me to be the mother to my kids for a reason.  I am the one who is most well-equipped to raise them, which is why they are mine.  God will give me the strength I need to handle my life, not someone else’s life.

So from now on, I’m done competing.  I’ve decided that the ball player must become the cheerleader.  My new goal is to encourage and respect other women at all times, rather than try to beat them at the game of life.  If you accomplish something, I need to be right there cheering you on and congratulating you, even if I could never do what you did.  Do I need to be best friends with every woman I meet?  No.  But I am called to lift others up rather than tear them down.  By practicing this, I have felt more joy in my friendships and more peace with myself than I ever expected.  I might never get another MVP award, but I’m shooting for Best Sportsmanship these days.

Linking up with Equipping Godly Women

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14 thoughts on “Sorry, I’m Not Going to Compete With You

  1. “I need to be right there cheering you on and congratulating you, even if I could never do what you did.” Every mom should have this quote on her wall 🙂 So much truth in this post! It took me way too long to get this, but once I did it was new day in my calling of motherhood. Thank you so much for sharing this, Jess!

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  2. Love this, Jess! This is a lesson God has brought me to again and again and although I’ve made progress, I still have a ways to go. 😉 Let’s do this. Cheering for you and with you.

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  3. That is such a familiar place to be for women, and mostly it is because we have no idea how much loved we are…or don’t know how to receive that love. This praying for one another, it is an amazing tool God uses to show us the beauty of loving others, too.

    Great thoughts!

    Blessings,
    Dawn

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  4. Oh Jess! Excellent!
    I used to that other woman, the tiny, DIYer, meal-fixer, house-cleaner, well-behaved kids woman. That was many years ago. I went at a crazy pace with a crazy schedule and I did most of it to prove my worth. It came at a very high price. I had a stroke at the age of 32 and there was other fall-out in my family relationships. I learned a lot through that. But still … now I compete with that woman I used to be. I no longer have five small children; I have one. I don’t have nearly the commitments I used to. I don’t get nearly as much accomplished as I did then. I should be ok with that – but still, I feel like I need to keep up with her. So, there are still some processes I am being refined through …… One thing that was driven home to me in all that – the illusion of someone else’s perfection is just that – an illusion. Everyone is battling something. Everything has a price.
    Thank you for this wonderful encouragement.
    (popping over from Fellowship Friday)
    Blessings – Trish

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    • Thank you, Trish! In this instance i was competing with someone else, but much like you, I also feel myself competing with what I think my best should be – the illusion of perfection. I need to be chasing after God’s best and nothing else. So glad you stopped by!

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  5. It is so easy to compare yourself to others. I constantly feel like I don’t measure up to some imaginary standard of what a wife and mother should be. But who created that standard? Me, not God. When I allow God to control my life (and my standards for success) things go much more smoothly.

    Thanks for your heartfelt words! Visiting from Equipping Godly Women

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    • You’re right, Kimberly. It’s often me creating my own standards rather than me following the ones God has already created. When I do it on my own I’m much less happy. God always knows best!

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  6. My problems isn’t so much that I compete with others, but that I compete with myself. And that can be just as bad sometimes…

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  7. Well said! I appreciate your honesty with this one. It can be hard to deal with competition…the feeling of being “inadequate” by comparison. We need to remind ourselves we are the best wife for our husband; we are the best mother for our children. It’s a blessing to be reminded that we have a Creator who made us with intention. Thank you for your encouraging words!

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