The Competition That Nobody Wins

Earlier this summer, my sons attended a Cub Scout day camp–and I had a week to myself. For this home-schooling mama, that week provided the gift of quiet and solitude and time. At the end of the week, all the campers put on a big show for the parents, performing goofy skits and singing silly songs. Those boys had a ball entertaining us.

I got there early, and the show began a little late, and I didn’t have much to keep me occupied in the meantime. I knew a tiny handful of people in the audience, and as I looked around at a big group of strangers, I let my mind wander. I took note of other women–how they were dressed or how they presented themselves. And I found myself feeling a bit smug as I took note of some sloppy outfits and messy hair. With so much time to myself that day, I’d had plenty of moments to wash my hair and put on make-up. And although those other moms may not have had as much time to get ready–and I knew that–I still measured myself up to them. And I have to admit, I kind of felt myself one-upping them a bit.

Once upon a time, I had lots of hair to wash.
Once upon a time, I had lots of hair to wash.

I am not a competitive person, but like many of us, I can sometimes slip into the comparison game. On this particular day at the Cub Scout show-and-tell, I felt I’d come out on top. Looking a little better groomed, a little more put together. Little less gray in my hair or a bit less weight on my body. But almost as soon as those thoughts entered my mind, I felt God’s Spirit slam the brakes on those thoughts. It went something like this…

Go ahead, Allison; play that game. You may feel you are “winning” for a few minutes here, but remember this:  Over and over and over, you’ve been on the losing side of this competition. Remember the library story times when you saw other mothers who were thinner, prettier, had fewer wrinkles and just looked more happy with life? Remember how you felt when you compared yourself to them? 

No make-up Monday one morning last summer.
No make-up Monday one morning last summer.

It didn’t stop there…Also, what about those times at the soccer fields, watching your boys practice or play games, and you noticed the trim and fit moms in their workout clothes? Remember how you felt “less than” when you compared yourself to them? When you saw several moms circle up for a gab fest while they watched their children play, and you felt alone and unpopular? Did you feel you’d successfully one-upped anybody then? And what about when you compare yourself to your friend who just completed her PhD? And those friends of yours who actually “use” their college degrees? Feeling on top now?

Comparison can end only one of two ways:  I either feel I’ve come out on top, and then I feel prideful and self-important. Or I feel I’ve come in last place and then discount all the important qualities I do possess. Comparison doesn’t allow me to accept myself or others.

Crazy yoga pose.
Crazy yoga pose.

Y’all, let’s skip the comparison of ourselves to one another and all be winners instead. Otherwise, we’ll all end up losers.



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