by Elizabeth Maddrey
I really struggled to give my husband birthday ideas this year. At the end of the day, if I have books to read, coffee to drink, and a couch to sit on, I’m pretty happy. (And I’m not overly picky about the couch, to be honest—the floor, a pillow, a stool, whatever; it’s a place to sit.) Still, he wanted to get me something, and in a moment of I’m not sure what, out of my mouth came the words, “You know, I’d kind of like a Fitbit.”
Being a conscientious man, my husband did his research and presented me with the options available, the pros and cons thereof, and asked what I thought. My response was simple: “I like the slate-grey one.” And so, on my birthday, there it was: my brand-new, slate-grey Fitbit. I charged it, downloaded the app to my phone, and slipped it on my wrist. Then I made the mistake of mentioning to a few friends that I now had one. Pretty soon, my phone was exploding with pop-up notifications: “Josie wants to be your friend on Fitbit!” Okay, sure. Why not?
I’ll tell you why not. Look back at the first paragraph, and you can probably figure it out for yourself. I’m not what people would term “sporty” or even, if we’re being completely honest and transparent, “active.” No, if I’m describing myself in one word, I really much prefer the term “torpid,” though “lethargic” or “somnolent” will work in a pinch. And yet it seems as if my friends are all considerably more movement-oriented than I am (either that or they let their kids and dogs walk around with their Fitbits on all day to make them look good.) While I was pretty pleased with the fact that I walked 2,500 steps in a day, they were all averaging 12,000 or more. And I found myself pacing the hallway trying to improve my step count to keep up, because I get tired of being the friend who makes everyone else feel good by comparison.
Eventually I stopped and asked myself:
Maybe it’s not your Fitbit that gets you. Maybe it’s Pinterest—all those sensory bins and quiet books I should be making for my kids instead of tossing them the toy from a Happy Meal that I found at the bottom of my purse. Maybe it’s healthy eating. Maybe it’s the status message for Facebook that has to be crafted just so—you know, the perfect combination of witty and awesome that still sounds humble and approachable. Maybe it’s your car or your house or your clothes or your Bible reading plan. Chances are it’s there, whatever it is.
The desire to turn everything into a competition has been with us from the beginning of time. From Cain and Abel onward, there’s been this underlying need for comparison that we somehow buy into, as if our worth can only be measured on a relative scale, and we can only succeed if someone else fails. But God’s love for us isn’t relative. Our worth isn’t relative. There’s no scale there at all beyond the one we impose on ourselves.
Life isn’t a competition.
I’m still wearing my Fitbit. I’m even trying to get up and move around more. (If I happen to grab a Hershey’s Kiss or two on my way, that’s okay, right?) But I’m not looking to see what my friends are doing or comparing how I do today with what I did yesterday.
Right here. Right now. Who I am today is enough. I’m who the Father created me to be, whether I walk six steps or six thousand, whether I cook a four-course gourmet meal or hit the drive thru because the kids just aren’t going to make it ‘til we get home. And you know what? You’re enough, too. Right here, exactly where you are, you’re enough. Maybe you’re fortunate and have people who speak those words into your life frequently. If so, cherish them—and thank them.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t try to improve or grow. But I’m going to try to step back and ask God to show me where and how I need to grow rather than basing my actions on how I measure up against other people.
Because life isn’t a competition. Life is about doing whatever I do, in word and deed, for the glory of my Father in heaven (Col. 3:17). And I can’t focus on Him if I’m preoccupied with where I stack up against my friends.
Elizabeth Maddrey is an author of several contemporary Christian romance novels. She is also a wife, mother of two amazing boys, Awana Commander, and beloved daughter of the King. Though her PhD in Computer Science does little to help her succeed in any of those tasks, she owns her nerddom just the same. She blogs at elizabethmaddrey.com.
Photograph used with permission from, and copyright of, Harmony Harkema.