Dr. Bill Hemmer says, “Don’t compare your “behind the scenes” to someone’s highlight reel.” My friend Beth Craig (The She Mission) first introduced me to this nugget and pointed out that this is often what we do when wading through Facebook pages. There we are, sitting at home in our sweat pants, eating ice cream and feeling fat, while our friend is posting news about their mega record deal and up-coming world tour.
As I watched the 2012 Olympics, I was struck by a comment that was made by several of the winning swimmers. When asked by sports interviewers what helped them succeed, they replied, “I stayed in my own lane.” So incredibly true of life isn’t it? As soon as we begin to focus on what someone else is doing, we quickly lose sight of the unique race God has us running.
Scripture tells us that we are fearfully, wonderfully made; created for a divine purpose. This should be our understanding as we live out our earthly experience, yet we tend to veer off course, lose focus or become discouraged by the magnitude of someone else’s highlight reel. This is otherwise known as comparison, which God has commanded us to avoid.
Human nature, unfortunately, can have its way with us from time to time and we succumb to the temptation of looking outside our lane. As a result, we fall prey to insecurity, jealousy or the belief that God loves us less than our more fortunate neighbor. Ultimately, our confidence and understanding of God’s unique design for us is shaken.
My heart always breaks for Olympians who train for years, show up at the biggest event of their lives and are unable to perform at the necessary level. Perfection is the standard, the pressure is on and the lanes around them are filled with fierce competitors. The thoughts generated in their minds create doubt and thus causes them to make that critical misstep.
This also reminds me of Peter, who was called out of the boat by Jesus to walk on water. During those few moments of complete confidence in who was calling him onto the water, he defied the laws of nature. Yet, as soon as the distractions came, Peter sank.
All it takes is that fleeting thought, “Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will the people even like me?” As soon as the negative thoughts are allowed in, the power of your unique race is compromised. For a Christian, gratitude and trust can also be lost in those moments.
At the end of the movie, “Seven Days in Utopia,” viewers are directed to a website that explains the outcome of the movie. The author, David L. Cook shares these words, “So often, at day’s end, we stare at the back of the tapestry of our lives trying to make sense of the meaningless meandering of the thread. And one day it happens, through a messenger or experience, we hear the clear voice of God calling us to take a peek at the other side of the tapestry. When we do, we are undone by the beauty of the story being woven and the meaning of a life of inconsequential circumstances emerging into an epic adventure with a purpose and calling worth living for.”
Ok, so the sweat pants, ice cream and feeling fat moments may not be epic, but there are many other moments in your race that are! The fact is, there is no one like you, not one. God is a god of variety and His plan unfolds differently for each of us. Refusing to look at our life through the lens of comparison is where victory is found. In other words, we need to stay in our own lane.
The less I pay attention to what others are doing, outside of being educated and excellent in my calling and craft, the stronger, more creative and bold I become. It simply does not matter how I measure up to the next person. What matters is that I keep my eyes on the One who calms the oceans, set the stars in the sky and designed my unique journey across the water.