It seems all my inner breeding grounds of stress are interconnected. And so my initial burst of stress quickly finds other places to breed and grow. Now trying to beat it down is like playing an impossible game of whack-a-mole. My stress keeps popping up in new places and new ways.
Last week I shared that one of my inner breeding grounds of stress is comparison…which never leaves me in a good place.Here is worse news. I find the stress of comparing connects to a more exhausting place – competition. I don’t mean the fun of competing in sports or other recreational games where we have so much fun and laughter playing with one another.
There is another dark side of competition. A way of competing that comes to life when my self-worth is threatened. I know when I get in this mode…and I have a strong hunch you do too. And it can be more often than we like to admit. Some of us are always in it…and it is exhausting. You can never fail, come in second, not be chosen or recognized. I can feel it wanting to take root when I am disappointed or hurt that someone else was honored, got the shout out, the reward, the honor, or I feel ignored and overlooked. Especially when I am convinced I deserve it more. Or could do a better job.
And then it hits. I become determined to prove them wrong. And I have some well tuned methods for doing this. One is I start trying harder…I am going to prove that I am the better, more capable and gifted person. I have lots of tactics for doing this. Another strategy for rescuing my self-worth is to ever so subtly put the other person down…and lift myself up. This is my Absalom strategy – “If I were king I would…”
What is the problem with this kind of self-improvement strategy? There is a big one. This kind of competition is always opposed to love. Love desires the other person to come in first, to be lifted up. Love tells me it is okay for me to come in second…or last. My self-worth is in being the beloved child of God – not in how I compare with you or how I can compete and show others I am better than you.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
QUESTION: What are your subtle competitive strategies for preserving your self-worth? Do you have Absalom strategies? What are they?
REMEMBER: This blog is a companion to my book, Lay it Down – Living in the Freedom of the Gospel. If your heart resonates with what I share in this blog, I’m sure you will enjoy the book. You can order it from NavPress and it is also available at Amazon.