Someone lied to me. Someone lied to me when they told me that life was a race. That life was a race that each of us has to finish . . . but, racing is competition . . . competition means that there are winners and losers. If life is a race, and someone has to win, then it is a competition. Life is a competition . . . that is what I have been taught since I was a little kid. I was taught to strive to be the best . . . the best in my classes . . . the best in sports . . . the best at playing games . . . the best at everything . . . to be the winner . . . to be number one. I was taught to be competitive. That was what I was taught, and it is a lie.
I used to be competitive . . . I worked hard to be in the top of my classes all through school, but there were always others ahead of me. I worked hard to be good at the sports that I loved, but someone was always better than me, faster than me, or stronger than me. In my jobs I strived to be the best employee, show up early, stay late, do more work, but everyone got paid the same as me and usually got promoted before I did. Even in the ministry there is competition . . . it is usually judged by the size of the church one serves . . . the bigger the better . . . sort of like church envy. You can see it in the reaction of other clergy whenever I tell them that I have basically served small rural churches for the past fifteen to twenty years. There is that look of pity in their eyes. Typically, I have been told I am a nice guy, and everyone knows, nice guys finish last.
I bought into the idea that there had to be winners and losers . . . that only one could win. That life was a race, a competition, something to be won. Line everyone up and let’s see who is standing at the end . . . that will be the winner. That is what we are taught as children by the society that we live in . . . by the world in which we live . . . and, the thing is, no matter how hard we try, most of us are pretty lousy at this competition thing. But, that is the world we live in . . . schools are competitions, work is competition, recreation is a competition, even churches are competitive . . . there are winners and losers. Someone has to win, everybody else loses.
But, I didn’t know . . . I didn’t know that that was a lie. Life is not a race . . . it is not a competition . . . there is not one winner in the end with everyone else losing. That is a falsehood . . . a lie. I’m tired of living a lie.
Life is not a race. It’s not. Life is a great big present waiting to be opened . . . over and over again. The problem is that we are too busy racing through life to discover its wonderfulness as a gift. We are too busy competing to see the joy and blessing that life really is. We are too occupied in trying to be number one that we miss that we are all number one in the eyes of God. We are precious in the sight of God . . . and, yeah, I know . . . that is that mushy Christian crap, but it is true. It is true, because God has a pretty high opinion of Godself . . . and, each and every one of us was created in the image of God. At least that is what the scriptures tell us, and we know that the scriptures never lie!
You see, being created in the image of God . . . well, that is pretty impressive . . . that makes each and every one of us gifted and talented. Each and every one of us has been gifted and blessed by God with talents . . . again, another scriptural reference, and scripture never lie! Each of us is gifted and talented in a particular area . . . the challenge is to discover what that particular area is, not to see who finishes first. And, likewise, every single one of us has particular challenges . . . we don’t always do well in every situation or place in which we are placed. The goal of life . . . this journey we are on . . . is to unwarp that gift of who God created us to be, embrace it, and live it to its fullest potential. The cool thing about that is that no one else can be me or you . . . no one else can unwarp the gift and live it for me or you . . . it is yours and mine . . . one of a kind! And, sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize it.
Buying into competition . . . buying into life being a race . . . does not help. It keeps us from focusing on what is really important and that is discovering this gifted and talented person that God has made us to be . . . from discovering that we are a chip off the ol’ block of God. There are no winners and losers in life . . . there is only you and me . . . and, we need each other. We need each other if we are going to make it.
I will admit that there is still a competitive spark lurking around inside of me. I see it come up when I commute to work every morning . . . I ain’t going to let anyone get ahead of me . . . just drive like a bat out of hell! I don’t like it, but it is inbred in me to want to pass people, get ahead of them, and beat them to some imaginary finish line. Usually, sad to say this, I give them the #1 sign when I whip by them. It shows up in work . . . and, it even shows up in church. It is not something that I am proud of because it defeats the purpose of unwrapping God’s gift for myself or others. It is dropping into that lie.
So, I have decided to quit lying to myself . . . decided to quit living the lie . . . and, to quit buying into this idea that life is a race. Instead, I am going to try and embrace the idea that life is a journey . . . a journey into discovering who God created me to be . . . a journey into discovering what Godly gifts and talents God has blessed me with . . . and, a journey into using those gifts to do God’s will. That will, I believe, is to help others switch over to the real meaning of life and not to buy into it being a race or competition.
Thus, I begin. I begin by saying that we are all the children of God . . . created in God’s image . . . gifted and talented. I begin by saying that our purpose in life is to discover who we are as the image of God, embrace those gifts and talents, and seek to do God’s will in our lives. It is not an easy journey . . . there are good days and bad days . . . there are mountaintops and valleys . . . no one ever said that it would be easy. And, I begin by saying, that we are okay.
We are okay. A journey is not made in a single step or day. It is a lifetime. And, we are okay . . . as we are gifted and talented, we are also challenged . . . that is life. Plus, we are never alone. We have God . . . and, we have one another. Together we shall succeed . . . we shall succeed because we are of God. Don’t buy into the lie . . .