I wanted to draw huge black x’s over the words I had so carefully written out only hours before. I had just read a friend’s blog post, and it was good. Really good. Thoughtful, intelligent, well written, studied, deep…and I wanted to cry. My words looked juvenile next to this craftsmanship, and I felt like a fool.
This isn’t just an acquaintance, but a soul sister. There was no envy, no animosity or malice, just awe at her God given talent being used well. But it wrecked me. It was everything I feared I wasn’t: well educated, deep, meaningful. Just plain good.
“You should just give up.” The voice that echoed in the dark recesses of my thoughts was low, seductive, almost reassuring and comforting. The words it spoke slowly wafted across my mind like a slow moving banner. “This is what good writing looks like. Stop pretending. You have no right to be here.”
If I’d had my computer right in front of me, I just might have done it. Deleted everything, said never mind, and called it a day. It would have been easy, a relief even. It’s hard to wear your heart on your sleeve and then let other people read about it.
Comparison is indeed the thief of joy.
Something happened though as I went about my evening. Just that morning I had done my study I’ve been going through on the book of Phillipians. The author of the study talked about when she was a runner, and one particular race she ran in 7th grade. She was ahead, feeling an easy win, but she decided to see how big her margin was. She looked over her shoulder at the runner behind her. She wasn’t as far behind as she thought. She checked again, the girl was a little closer. A few more times looking over her shoulder, and then just like that, she was edged out of the blue ribbon when the girl crossed the finish line first. As she stood there panting, her coach came up to her and said “Why did you look back? Looking back always slows a runner down!”
Now, if you want to get technical, I wasn’t looking back, so much as sideways. My friend has been pacing alongside me as we figure out the blogging world together and how that plays out in the “real world.” We are not in a race, or a competition, but working towards the same goal in our own separate ways.
The companion passage the author chose to go with her story was from Phillipians 3: 12-14. This particular part is after Paul, talking to the church in Phillipi, has said he considers his current suffering as a way to become more like Christ:
“Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus.” (emphasis added)
Straining. Reaching. Pursuing. Striving. Stepping up my game and pressing on. Again, this isn’t about competing with my friend. Quite the opposite. This is about finding that place in me where my passion is bigger than my need for perfection or praise. Sometimes I take the raw out of my posts because I don’t want to startle, overwhelm, or make anyone uncomfortable with my thoughts. My passion is to use my love of writing to build others up and encourage them in their paths, even as I still make my way through mine. But how can I do that when I still hold back? Part of me still thinks this is not a “valid” way to use my gifts. That people will shake their heads, or roll their eyes and think “just another stay at home mom with a blog.”
If you haven’t noticed I tend to have big feelings (that’s what we call them to our five year old who is Just. Like. His. Mama.). Things break me regularly, they exhilarate me an hour later. I have never been even keel. Barely an hour after I sat on my couch mourning the loss of my self-confidence as a blogger, I was scribbling these words out furiously, my pen moving so fast half of my words were unintelligible.
It is easy to get side tracked. To look over and notice how great that person next to you is doing, and then fall flat on your face because you took your eyes off of your goal. But you aren’t there for them. You are there for the One who called you there, and for that we can continue to keep striving, without looking back…or sideways 😉