I like to be the best. I know, I know, it sounds really vain and conceited, but trust me it isn’t. In fact, I would consider it my biggest weakness because when I know I am not the best, I tend to quit or coast by. For me, there is no joy in second place. Second, in my mind, is the same as last, and why would I try my best for last?
A few weeks ago, I was struggling through a one-hour boxing class and refused to get up from the gym floor. It was a cold, rainy Tuesday and the last place I wanted to be was the gym. Before we had even started the warm up, I confessed I didn’t want to be there and that attitude continued for the rest of the workout.
I was throwing punches that barely moved the bag, yet the trainer didn’t seem to care about my lack of enthusiasm for the workout. He kept walking over to my bag saying things like “Great form,” “Good punch,” “Keep up the good work.”
I was confused because I didn’t deserve these compliments. I didn’t do a good job. I barely did anything.
After the workout, the trainer walked over to me and said, “Good job today!”
I replied saying “I don’t deserve a good job. That was awful.”
“How about great job then?” he said.
Still confused I asked, “Why are you complimenting me? I almost didn’t show up and barely finished the workout.”
He said to me “But you are here, and you did finish the workout. You fought all the way to the end. That deserves a great job.”
He was right. I showed up. I fought. I finished. That was all that was asked of me. I had been so used to punching hard that I didn’t realize that showing up, fighting, and finishing really was an accomplishment to be praised.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried my best only to get upset when I didn’t accomplish what I thought I was supposed to accomplish. Or I didn’t show up because I didn’t know what would happen or who would be there. Or I didn’t start something because I didn’t think I could do a good enough job. This is the mentality I am fighting every single day; one based on fear and inadequacy.
It’s no wonder my verse for the year is 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”
Every time I try my best but start to feel the anxiety of letting myself down, God whispers to me “Good job child.” Every time I show up to something without all the details, God whispers to me “I’m glad you came.” Every time I start something new without all the qualifications I think I need, God whispers to me “Keep up the good work.” These whispers are all I need to finish strong.
A few months ago, I read an email that changed my life. It read “I don’t care if you have 30%, give me 100% of that 30%…. We won’t be 100% every second of every single day this week. It’s just not going to happen because we aren’t perfect. But no matter where we are on the spectrum of efficiency and productivity and just being totally ‘with it,’ we can give 100% of who we are right then.”
I think that is all God is asking of us. God sees our best and knows what we are capable of. He isn’t asking us to be the best; He’s asking for our best, and sometimes our best is simply showing up, fighting, and finishing.