I have a strong desire to be good at everything I do. (Shocker.) I also have a strong desire to be good at the things I’ve actually never done or tried. Take, for example, snowboarding. When the sport comes up in conversation, I make sure to say I’ve never tried it but that my athleticism would take over and after an hour of practice, I’m positive I’d be shredding pow pow like a pro. I’m not sure if this comes from my genetics or my environment.
Anyway, I hadn’t really thought about the whole ‘wanting to be good at everything’ thing until I came across a passage from Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church. (Again, shocker.) She writes:
“My desire to do all things well had kept me from doing the one thing within my power to do, which was to discover what it meant to be fully human.”
You see, I write down a lot of BBT quotes but this one was different. This one was like a mosquito bite. The bite was noticeable and annoying, not so much painful, and I didn’t feel its effect until a few minutes later. Once the effect wore in, I sat in my plastic Adirondack chair questioning why I had the urge to do all things well, shaking my head at myself (#smham).
I had come up with two things after psychoanalyzing myself:
- I am just competitive by nature. For better or for worse, being competitive will probably be a blessing or a curse for the rest of my life.
- Wanting to be good at everything comes from a place deep down in which being good means being accepted. Being good means being noticed.
I’m not talking about being accepted and being noticed by other people. I’m talking about being accepted and being noticed by God. Something I often fail to remind myself is that other people’s relationships with God does not and probably should not match up with mine. In fact, I’d be worried if every single person worshipped God, spoke to God, and listened to God the same exact way. Even though I know God completely accepts and notices me, I still get all tangled up in the nasty web of comparison.
For me, to be fully human means two things: to be fully accepting of falling down with occasional face-plants and to be fully different from one another – to recognize ourselves for ourselves. The words of BBT struck a nerve because I noticed that in my attempt to be good at all things, I was not allowing myself to fall. I don’t mean fail. I mean fall, because it is after the fall that we feel the Divine picking us up by the back of our shirts and onto our feet. In attempting to be good at all things, I also wasn’t allowing myself to be fully different from others – to recognize myself for myself. Although I’ll always have the itch for #winning, I’m working instead to be really good at a few things instead of being good at all things. At the end of the day, “we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9).
Thanks be to God that we are fully human.