When I was young, I loved wearing my mother’s boots around the house. They were a light leather mid-calf boot, and I thought they were AMAZING. Every time I tried them on, I hoped they would finally fit. Although I never got to wear those bad boys to elementary school, I felt grown up and untouchable as I dragged them through the shag carpet down our hallway.
When I was young, I hoped the boots would release my inner grown up, so I could walk in sophistication. I thought someone else’s shoes would bring that desire to fruition. By the time those coveted boots would have fit, I no longer thought they were cool. While I had lost interest in my mom’s boots, I found other objects of desire to hold my attention–rugby shirts owned by others, boyfriends on the arms of friends, and grades rarely recorded on my work.
I have a long history of thinking what others had was what I needed.
I have lost count of the number of times I measured my success against the journey of someone else. It is tempting [and exhausting] to get caught up in the race of someone else’s life instead of running my own.
If only I could write like Max.
If only I could run as fast as Karen.
If only I was as pretty as Kristen.
If only I had grades like Hemal.
If only I had a new car like Molly.
If only I could paint like Rhonda.
If only I could sing like Amy.
If only I wasn’t ME.
I have a short history of being comfortable in my own skin.
Walking confidently in exactly who I was created to be was not instinctive. It was always easier to accept the messaging that who I was wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. That made the most sense with how I saw myself. My solution was to take on the likeness of someone else I deemed successful. I worked hard to be like everyone else, and I got further and further away from contentment. It was never enough.
As the years tarried, I realized that the person I evaluated as successful had a story I had failed to consider. Who I credited as beautiful often failed to see themselves the way I did. It turns out that we are a short-sighted bunch of people. We get tripped up on what we lack, and we fail to rest in what we have.
I discovered my tendency to view the success of others through the lens of what I didn’t have. We will always come up short if we filter everything through our losses. If only theology doesn’t hold space to celebrate the small ordinary wins of life. This was the most valuable lesson I learned in light of trying to measure myself against others. Someone else’s success is the wrong measuring instrument.
When we are trying to gain purpose and worth by walking in someone else’s shoes, we will always fall short of our goal.
We have a unique journey gifted to us. We are wise to keep our eyes forward and avoid the tendency to get caught up in someone else’s journey and try to mimic what they are doing. We will always feel behind if we are consumed with the success of others. Other people are good at things we may NEVER be able to achieve, but we are good at things unique to our individual bent.
The provision of enough is a gift we can open every day.
Here’s the prescription for resting in the provision of enough. Put one foot in front of the other, do the work in front of you, and take time to rest in the small victories of life. Pause and celebrate the thoughtful conversation, the basic dinner, the connection with a friend, and the provision to complete another ordinary day. Then we will wake up and start another day of work because there is always more to do. The work is good. The work is uniquely ours.
When you start to feel sideways about success, consider the tool you are using to measure. If you are using someone else’s success to measure your value, it’s time to break up with that mindset. Reframe success as doing your work and resting in the provision of enough.
You were uniquely created and equipped to run YOUR race. The same is true for me, so let’s agree to run our unique races, cheer for each other, and rest.
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