second best

Early in our marriage, I made the mistake of trying to let my husband teach me a few things.
Like skiing and golf.
I thought these would be fun things that we could do together.
Only I forgot that I am a horrible student.
That I don’t really like being told what to do.
I hate the frustration of trying so desperately to hold my arm straight or not swing to the left or keeping my skis in line. Without success.
I get more frustrated.
He tells me again.
And he tells me about a dozen things I need to fix or change or do and I don’t even know where to begin.
And we end up yelling or cussing (usually both) and not having any fun at all.

Eventually he has learned, to only offer advice when I ask for it.
Or to limit it to one thing every five minutes.
And also we learned that when we learn something we have two entirely different goals.
My husband wants to do it properly.
To have good form. Skill. And to do well. Maybe even win.
I just don’t want to suck.
I just want to be able to play.
And have a good time.
And make it down the mountain in one piece.
I could give a rip about my form or my technique.

Don’t get me wrong.
I am competitive. I like that I can usually run further than him (even if he can run faster) and can cream him at tennis.
We argue about who is smarter.
I am by far the better cook (except for pancakes).
He is the better everything else.
It is nice to win something. To be recognized or to do well.
But still. Most days I am content with not sucking.

I have an odd confession.
I don’t have any strong desires to be the best.
And I don’t think it is just lazy. I am ok with working hard.
With training and trying and even failing.

And I have friends who seem to excel at everything they do.
And I see what it takes.
The hours. The lack of sleep. The constant work.
The things they have to say no to, to be really good at the other.
And sometimes I am jealous. Of their success and recognition.
And even though I’d really like to be good at it.
To have similar successes and awards and prestige.
I can’t seem to push myself to be the best at anything.
Because I’m pretty happy where I’m at.

I don’t use cloth diapers or make super crafts out of popsicle sticks and dryer lint.
I don’t make my husband a home made meal every night.
I am not teacher of the year.
I almost never score the winning goal. Heck, I almost never score a goal period.
When I run races, I don’t really care that much about my time.
I just want to finish. Preferably without walking.
I am better at some things than others.
I am even better at some things than most.
But I can not name one thing that I am the best at.
I am not the skinniest. Or the prettiest. Or the smartest. Or the nicest. Or the richest. Or the funniest.
I am.
Just like most of you, pretty ordinary.
And I am ok with that.

And sometimes I worry that this ordinariness is why nothing will ever come of my writing.
Or that settling for ordinary just means that I have low self esteem. ( most days, not the case)
Or that I am just not competitive. (again, I am. Sometimes.)
And. I hope it isn’t true about my writing. (there are lots of things holding me in my place here. Like timing and money and fear and lack of sleep and the fact that I still like my day job. And I promise to start chipping away at those eventually….but I am not in any hurry).
Or that I am doing something wrong. That I am cheating myself. That I am not committed enough. Or working hard enough. That I don’t have enough ambition. And maybe I don’t. Because frankly. I don’t want to be a best seller. I just hope that people will read my words and that they will matter. And maybe one day I can even get paid for it.

We are told that God wants our best (2 Timothy 2:14).
But no where does it ever say we have to be the best compared to anyone else. And I think that is a pretty huge distinction.

Until then. I am encouraged by the fact that God never picked the best.
He rarely used biblical superstars or bestsellers to tell his story.
Instead there is a lot more written about teenage girls, and shepherd boys, and fishermen and even a Jewish carpenter.
That he always used ordinary people to do the most tremendous things.
And maybe being ordinary and available is more important than being the best.


AmommymousBlogger said...

For some reason, I couldn't get your RSS button to work for me. I'm not so good with the tech stuff. Finally figured it out last night, though. Anyway, point is that I wanted to keep hearing more of your writing because I really like it. It speaks to me. So, keep it up! And I love the reminder at the end of this that God uses normal people. I'm feeling pretty darn normal these days-- more than I'd like-- but where I am and what I am doing aren't a surprise to God! He can use me here, too. Thank you!