Competition is life right now for our 5 year old. Oh, I’m sorry. Our 5 AND A HALF year old, as she reminds me on the daily. Because she is more than 5. Closer to 6. Closer to first grade than her sisters are. How could I forget to add those bonus months? How dare I.
But like I said, it is her life. She breathes competition into her days as Eric and I fight the urge to scream, and not-so-gently anymore, remind her (many many times) that, “It’s not a competition, sis”. This desire to be more, be ahead, be above, be seen; to be heard, be valued. Is it pre-built in us? Do our genes, when laid out spell, I AM HERE. NEED ME. I’M THE BEST!
I have a 2-year older brother. He is good at everything, and nothing in life seems to have been a challenge for him. I’m sure he is part superhero. While our high school years coincided, I remember sitting at the dinner table, opposite our parents and listening while my brother shared about his day. These were the days when cell phones didn’t exist outside of the center-console car phone attachment, and I wasn’t old enough for a pager so we had to talk. Like, actually use verbal ways of communicating to another person’s face. So he went on about another award or good test score, I’m sure, and I sat there thinking “he’s the coolest”. Of course I could never let him know it then, so I’d roll my eyes and think about what story I could share that would top his and make my parents love me more.
Sometimes I think about Jesus’ disciples. Those 12 men who ate with him, walked with him and testified on his behalf. I like to wonder what their side conversations were like when the big guy wasn’t around.
“Yeh, that’s great Mark. I’m glad you and Jesus had some quality time talking on your stroll through town. Did I tell you that he took me fishing for the whole day on Friday? He even packed us a picnic lunch with miracle bread. But your walk seemed nice.”
It seems so silly to read that, but isn’t it what we do too often than we’d like to admit? I know I do. I feel less content with my life when I compare it to the portrait of another’s. I’ve become far too comfortable throwing my hands up and jumping like a toddler to get the attention of someone, as though I need reinforcement of my value. But don’t I sometimes? Too real.
Paul reminds us, in the New Testament book of Titus:
When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Nothing other than the loving kindness of Jesus fills our value bucket. We can look and ask and beg and jump around and tell stories, but we’re already qualified for the call, qualified for this life, qualified in purpose because He loves us oh so very much. But my brother really is the coolest.