By Way of Comparison
This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.
That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.
“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”
I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.
“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”
In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?
“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”
Here’s a spiritual challenge:
- When I compare myself to the best I become discouraged. I don’t know all of their faults and, therefore, cannot possibly scale the unrealistic pedestal I have placed them on.
- When I compare myself to the worst I become prideful. I can always find someone whose sins are more numerous or more disgusting than my own.
- When I compare myself to God I realize just how pitiful we all are. We all miss the mark by so much that comparisons to any other human are insignificant.
- When I compare the way God values me to how much I deserve to be valued I find my purpose and worth. True value is not found in self-esteem, but God’s esteem.