“I am not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.”
I saw this quote a while ago and it resonated with me. Every day I want to believe it. Every day I struggle to put it into practice.
Life feels like one giant competition sometimes. Even in the beginning there is almost a competition for a life to begin. In the womb we compete against many elements to survive. We compete in school for grades or in sports- against others or our own expectations. We compete for jobs against more or less experienced and talented people. We compete in relationships; for someone’s heart, to be loved. Women and some religions or races compete for equality – equal pay or equal treatment.
In the very end, or at some point along the way, we compete to stay alive. To exist. To be. To make it.
Yet somehow despite the strength of our own fight; the fight for acceptance, for love, to win, to accomplish, or to be the best leads to us dragging others down in the process. Instead of relying on one another and working together, so often our instincts or our selfish nature kicks in and we are right back to Eden; it is all about ourselves, our own survival and the competition takes over.
But I hope we all make it.
We live in a society where if someone is doing well- they will be torn down. My sisters and I often speak about Taylor Swift for example. Of course she like anyone is flawed. She’s dated a bit; some think she isn’t the best role model. Some adore her. Yet so many tear her apart. She is shamed and slated and called out for every mistake that she makes. People can’t seem to embrace or support others (especially women) when they do well. Taylor for example gives away $10000 to schools and fans, she is honest and kind. She doesn’t just sing about sex (which many with very young fans may do). Yet all people seem to talk about is her dating life or her outfits. Even though she has had so much criticism and grown up from 15 in the public eye, she remains poised. She has lots of brilliant female friends including some from school and she is fiercely loyal. Yet, as she says “Haters gonna hate…”
We live in a world full of cyber bullying as well as face to face bullying. And subtle, yet often public shaming. Fat shaming, slut shaming, skinny shaming; on and on. Women tearing each other apart. For what? Because we don’t think they represent us as females well? Because we are jealous? Because they provide unrealistic expectations? Because they are all that we are not, or they are who fear we will become?
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Taylor Swift said (in this beautiful and inspiring speech she made when I saw her in Hyde Park in June) something that I know to be true but so often forget. When we see someone else’s life, or life on social media, we are seeing a “highlight reel”. We see our own “behind the scenes” every day. We see our own mess, our own frustrations and failings. We see our ‘no makeup’ selfies and our bloopers. So how can we possibly compare that to someone else’s highlights? We so often never see their behind the scenes. If we did- the comparisons may not be that harsh.
Is this what makes us compete? Because we are so often comparing our messy lives to someone else’s best bits instead of just trying to be our best?
“You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you. You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile.” – Taylor Swift
Nobody gets more Grace from God than me. Nobody deserves more love. Nobody is entitled to more eternity than me. Jesus died for me as much as he did anyone else. So why all the comparisons?
I mean I get it! It’s hard not to. I do it all day every day. She has the perfect (fill in the blank_) husband, body, job, face, health, family…..
But, really my only comparison should be to my best self shouldn’t it? The best version of the person God has called me to be. And perhaps, if anyone, to the man who walked with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and thieves. The man who loved, poured out miracles, and forgave them when they spat on him, took his clothes and hung him on a tree.
Even then; even in the midst of all of his pain and rejection, Jesus hoped we would all make it.
He died so we would all make it.
I hope and pray we all make it.
The world can be so terrifying in the way people will destroy others for so many reasons, and because of so many theologies or mind-sets. You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to despair of human kind. War. Rape. Torture. Murder. Slavery. Mankind pitted against mankind.
ISIS ravaging humanity in Iraq and Syria. A ‘theology of rape’ being promoted with girls as young as 12 being raped; bookmarked with ‘prayer’ and religious practice.
‘Black Lives Matter’ being screamed at the top of heartbroken lungs. Whilst others profess ‘All Lives Matter’ in some ways undermining the outcry of injustice at all the ways black men and women have been robbed of their lives, their humanity.
We shouldn’t have to say ‘All Lives Matter’. We shouldn’t have to cry ‘Black Lives Matter’. We shouldn’t have to remind each other of our inherent value and worth. We should all hope that we all make it.
The Nazi regime and the atrocities carried out is perhaps one of the most memorable and heart-breaking examples of some lives being deemed less important than others. Jew. Black. Old. Disabled. Not worthy even of life.
Yet today it is still the case daily- woman, black, gay, other religion, other nationality, other caste, less intelligent, criminal; seen as less human, less worthy, less important, less worth making it.
Surely there is enough pain in the world with natural disaster and disease without us adding to it with our pain, anger, jealousy and hatred? I know so much of this come from despair, desperation, or hopelessness. Perhaps you call it sin?
But what if we stopped competing? Stopped seeing others as less than ourselves even in our small spheres of influence?
Somehow despite all the horror and despite all the loss I still hope. I am not interested in comparisons or competitions. I really do hope we all make it.
Those who have treated me badly- I hope you make it.
Those that let me down, didn’t protect me, or caused me harm- I hope you make it.
Those that I damaged, lied to, hurt or broke along my way- I hope you make it.
Those whom I’ve compared myself to, been jealous of- I hope you make it.
Those who have done unspeakable wrong- I hope you make it.
Those who scream silence, in pain or fear- I hope you make it.
Those who are totally alone- I hope you make it.
Those for whom there seems no way out- I hope you make it.
More than that- I hope you don’t just make it. I hope you don’t just survive. I hope and pray we all thrive.
I hope we all thrive in a way that doesn’t mean stepping on another to get where we want to be. I hope we all thrive in a way that builds others up with us as we go along. I hope we all thrive in a way that we don’t have to put someone down, in order to go up. I hope we all thrive in a way that we will stop and cry out when we see others’ not making it.
I hope we all thrive by stepping out and helping, rescuing, carrying, petitioning and advocating for all those around us who are not making it.
I hope we all thrive in a way where we remember our humanity, our connectedness; that we are all 99.9% the same DNA; that we are family, a body each with unique parts to play. That despite what someone may have done, where they live, how poor they are, what race, religion, gender or sexual orientation they are; that we are all worth loving, we all deserve hope, we all deserve life.
We all deserve to make it.
I am not interested in competing. I hope we all make it. I must keep reminding myself of this and live it out in my life today even in the smallest ways.