“You need to choose to love the game and not just winning,” my husband was telling one of our kids. “It’s no fun for you or anyone else if the only thing that matters is whether you win or lose.”
We were standing in the driveway after what should have been a friendly game of basketball. Instead, it had turned into a life lesson moment. Not a serious, sit down kind. More of a playful but you still need to listen one.
Danny glanced over his shoulder at me (who was politely remaining out of it). With a twinkle in his eye, he added, “You are just like your mom. She doesn’t like to play unless she can win either.”
I shot him a death glare but he was already silently laughing at me and it had absolutely no effect.
Our son’s face lit up, “Really? Ok, mom. If you change then I’ll change too!”
Nothing came out of my mouth. I just stared.
What had just happened here?? How did this become about me?
The conversation ended exactly like that. I promised nothing, but I let the words toss around in my mind. While I knew Danny was teasing, I realized there was truth behind his words. My perfectionist tendencies ran deep. They surfaced often to remind me of where I could improve, what could be adjusted, or whether I should abandon and find something better suited for me.
Hi, my name is Jamie and I am my own worst critic.
Seeing my own self-analyzing habit show up in my son wasn’t my favorite experience. While competitiveness is motivating to accomplish something great, it is also a joy sucker. It’s hard to be intent on destroying the competition or your own personal best AND fully embrace the beauty of the journey at the same time.
Eyes on the finish line. You race through the current moment in pursuit of a time that doesn’t yet exist. Like scenery speeding by the windows of a moving train, life passes you by before you even realize what is happening.
I decided that my desire (bordering on need) to win had to quit robbing me of a love for playing the game. The implications were much bigger than family basketball and the example I was setting for my son. A mental list started forming of the many things I didn’t enjoy because I was too busy trying to improve.
I needed to learn how to STOP and be still.
Things come into focus when the movement ceases. The blur of landscape begins to look like strong trees standing guard like sentries over a field of delicate flowers in full blossom. Your senses come alive with the smell of honeysuckle in the air, the feel of sunshine radiating through the branches and pulling you upward towards its reach, the wind tickling your skin as it dances across the meadow. All things you missed when you were observing from the speeding train.
It is the awareness that I am not my own savior. The line doesn’t end with me. My strength or determination or focus isn’t the final say. I am in a story that I am incapable of writing the plot for, regardless of how much I would like to.
3 Things That Have Helped Me Stop…
- Spending time in adoration
With coffee in hand, the first thing I do is marvel at God. Sometimes I walk onto the back patio and watch the sunrise. Other times I observe the birds already chirping from the tree when I wake up. And I think about how magnificent the Designer of Creation is.
I reflect on His justice and goodness, the strength He reigns with. Mercy, kindness, faithfulness. I meditate on who He is and let the revelation of God sink into my spirit.
2. Opening my heart to receive
I don’t want to leave anything on the table that was meant for me. So I open my hands as if someone was placing a gift inside of them. And I allow myself be loved.
Love. Peace. Joy. His grace pushes aside my insecurities and doubts. Here is where I become defined by who He is and the relationship between us. My identity is found not in what I succeed or fail at but in who I am loved by.
3. Bringing my worries to God
Every thought that nags at me. Every insecurity that toys with me. Every fear that grips me. I bring them to His feet and lay them down. Knowing that He is far more capable than I am to carry their weight, I leave them there.
As I have learned to stop, I have realized that it is actually starting. It is a different way of doing life. “Be still and know that I am God!” is more than a declaration. The words are an invitation to step off the train and experience life beyond it.