For weeks, a recurring theme that has come up in places such as my 12-step meetings, Sunday school and Bible study has to do with being the best versus being my best. And today, when the Fourth of July with its focus on freedom comes on a Sunday, I must exercise what I see as my responsibility to write about it! My prayer is to keep it short and simple so I can go forth and serve (or at least celebrate)!
I've listened as people talked about what seems to be the norm: the desire to be THE best. For many years, that was me. Whether it was to be the best student, the best majorette, the best singer, the best writer, the best daughter, the best friend -- being the best was the goal. Of course, only one person can be THE best, so that was a sure-fire formula for disappointment and disillusionment. And after a fair amount of success through high school, a world of disappointment and disillusionment is where I found myself for many years.
In the interest of trying to keep this fairly short and quick, I won't go into details of all those years and the long road out of that world. But these recent discussions have reminded me of principles and beliefs I hold onto today that keep me from going back to that place.
I guess the most basic and essential change is that, as I've become a regular reader of God's Word, I've been convinced that God created me; He proclaimed me good (despite all of what I see as my shortcomings, weaknesses, failures, mistakes and imperfections, etc.) and He loves me so much that even if I were the only person on Earth in need of salvation, He would have sent His son to die for me so that I could live with Him forever. I'm not sure when I truly began to believe that. But I know it came as a result of being around people who have loved me forever (my parents, relatives, church family, dear friends) and people who I've met along the way, even in the worst years, who saw good in me and offered love, acceptance and understanding. Eventually, out of deep personal need, I embraced that God's love is the source of all that love. And I guess that's when I started wanting to know God better, so I started reading the Bible. Not surprisingly, before I started reading the Bible regularly, I knew more about God from what other people said than from what God Himself said. No wonder I was so confused!!!!
I'm still confused a lot of the time, but it's easier for me to come back to those basics. Another of those basics for me is that God's not asking me to be the best. He wants me to be my best -- the best at what He created me to be. I think it was a couple of weeks ago during Sunday school that I realized that's at least a two-part deal. First, I have to seek to know what God is calling me to do and be. And then I have to do it, which often requires overcoming fear (of failure, of being overwhelmed, of being ridiculed or embarrassed, possibly of even being viewed as vain or childish), procrastination, and lack of necessarily knowledge, skill or resources. I think some of the results of that search have been more regular Sunday school attendance; commitment to attending a midweek prayer time; a better attitude at work even when circumstances seem impossible; sharing my heart and journey on my blog; and most recently, recording beloved songs and posting them on youtube.
I can tell you this for sure: If I thought I had to be the best, I would not be blogging or recording things and putting them on youtube. The blog and the recordings are living examples that, for me in certain areas including these, the call is to just do it. I'm free to resist that call, but I've found that the blessing comes from doing it. With the songs, my focus is on the beautiful words and melodies, not the singer. As for the blog, I still don't know. It's something about the spirit's call to my heart: Sweet music of life -- To hear it! To share it! Maybe I fear that if I don't share it, I'll quit hearing it. And God knows I never want to quit hearing that beautiful sound!