Have you ever heard of the “Comparison Trap”? I actually never knew this was a thing until I had a conversation with someone the other day and looked it up. Sure enough, Sandra Stanley has a 28-day devotional about it. I don’t even have to read it to know what she’s talking about. The name says it all. It is 100% true that we compare ourselves to others all the time. I do it with EVERYTHING I’m involved in and when it happens I am always the one feeling horrible about myself. But how do you go about life without comparing yourself to someone else? How do you not compare yourself to those magazines with the beautiful movie stars that are flawless? I know, I know! They’re photoshopped, but does it matter? How do you stop comparing yourself with other moms who don’t yell at their kids? How about the ladies who have beautiful hair and make up ALL. THE. TIME? Anyone have an answer? Anyone?
I’m a very competitive person and because I’m competitive, I compare my performance in the gym with others. Let’s face it, I compare myself to others in many areas of my life. Every time I compare myself to someone else, without fail, I walk away feeling like I’ve come up short. I compare myself to my friends, my family, my coworkers, and pictures of myself when I was 21 (trust me when I tell you that this is not a good idea). But I want to win! I want to be the best at everything. But is that possible? To be the best at everything? Well, it depends on whether or not you’re competing with someone else or the person you see in the mirror.
I was having a conversation with my friend, Cheryl, the other day, and we were talking about running your race. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one gets the prize? So run to win!” The crazy thing about this conversation is that I was thinking about this verse when I was in the gym a few weeks ago. I was sitting on the floor after a workout wondering if I had given my best. And then I thought of this verse. What does Paul mean when he says only one gets the prize and that I should run to win? First of all, if only one gets the prize, why bother? I am never the best…I just want to be the best. But that’s not what Paul means. The most important part of this verse is when he says, “Run to win!” Do you know why? What happens if you put forth the effort that can cause you to win the race? It means you’ve given your best. And if you give your best then you actually are the best version of yourself you can be.
A few years ago I had just gotten home after a long day of running errands with my three boys. I was at my wits end after shopping with them and I was putting away the groceries. I’m sure I had been yelling at them and by that point I was feeling badly. I remember standing in the kitchen and I asked God to help me be the best mom. Something hit me as I made that request to God. It wasn’t about being the best mom. It was about being the woman God called me to be. When God formed me He thought of the Shanda He wanted me to become. Yes, I’m a wife, a mother, a teacher, a minister, etc., but it’s not about being the best at any one of those things. It’s about being the woman God called me to be, and in doing that I will be the best I can be at whatever I’m known as.
When we stand before God one day, He is not going to ask us if we were better at life than the person next to us. However, God does care as to whether we give Him our best or not. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability.” George MacDonald says, “It is our best work that God wants.” When you think about it, God never asks for two things: for you to give him a part of you, and for you to be better than someone else. In fact, in Luke 10:27, (and many other places in the Bible), it says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and all your mind.” God wants ALL of us and in return we should give our ALL to Him. In doing so, we are running to win!
So, if you compare yourself with others, I understand. I get caught in that trap too; more times than you could imagine and more times than I care to admit. Competing with, and comparing myself to someone else may make me better than the person for a moment, but it doesn’t make me a better version of myself. In crossfit, there are many days after a workout where I am gasping for breath, lying on the floor and my body is trying to recover from the grueling workout I just put it through. That’s when I know I have given every ounce of energy and effort I could have given. When I stand before God I want to know I’ve given that same kind of effort. I want to know I’ve ran my race and finished strong. I want to run to win! So, dear friends, run your race as best you can. Give God all of you and don’t worry about how you measure up in the light of others. When you do, you will be the best version of yourself this world has ever seen!