Have you ever been lapped? Not just once, but what seems like an infinite number of times?
I was jogging on the track the other day on a gorgeous October morning. A fellow runner joined me. The first time he lapped me, I thought, “Wow! That guy is fast!” The second time I thought, ”Wow! He is reallly fast!” The third time I was starting to get annoyed and thought, “HONESTLY!!?” The fourth time, when he zipped past me and ran out of the gate I was relieved, only to see that he was now running outside of the track to make a bigger loop and get a more intense workout as he had to go up and down a hill-- and he was still lapping me! The fifth time, as he came back onto the track, I was angry at how old and slow I had gotten. And then my run went from one of happily chugging along listening to praise music and thanking God for all I had and my ability to even still be able to run, to one of discouragement and thoughts of turning in my sneakers.
Compare and despair.
In life, there will ALWAYS be someone who comes along who is better than you, or if you are at the top of your game now, who will lap you later-- beat your record, outsmart your intellect, outdo your power, you know… somehow best you. If we rely on our accomplishments to measure our self-worth, we will be prone to discouragement that can lead to bitterness and all kinds of unhealthiness. It can even lead to our giving up and throwing in the towel, quitting because we feel we are no longer good enough. I have seen it in all kinds of areas, even in the spiritual life.
The Good news-- God does not compare. He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. He meets us right where we are and takes us up from there, no matter where we are or what we have done. This concept is so hard for my human self to comprehend as it is so unearthly. I can come to God, again and again, lapped, bested, beaten, fallen, broken and bruised and He says, “Welcome Champ!” Why? Because if we humbly turn to Him, we’ve won, because HE is our Victory.
This prayer of self offering has helped me see that I can come to God, offer Him ALL of me, not just the “good parts” --the “winner”... all of me. And He takes it and somehow, in His loving and mystically amazing way, uses it for His purposes if I let Him. He invites each of us, right where we are, to touch those we are in contact with daily and to do what only we can do in the unique place, circumstances and conditions we are in. Don’t “compare and despair”. Flourish in the now. The victory is in the humble offering of ourselves.
“Lord, I offer you all of me, all that I am and all that I am not. I offer you every good decision and every regrettable mistake, every great accomplishment and every missed opportunity, every divinely inspired gift and every unapplied talent, every success and every miserable failure. I offer you all joy and all heartache, every kindness and every bitterness to be forgotten, every twinkle in my eye and every tear flowing down my cheek, every great love and each lost or irrecoverable act of charity. I offer you every quiet reflective moment and all of the unneeded chaos around me, all things holy and good in me and all things in need of greater purification. I give you every joyful memory and every bitter foul pain, each future moment and every missed opportunity to love, every kind act and each regrettable harsh word, all meekness and humility within me and every misplaced prideful thought, every virtue and every weak vice, every laugh and all misery mixed with weeping. I give you every healthy breath and every weakness of mind and body, every attempt at chastity and every unworthy lustful thought, every restful repose and every anxious sleepless night. Oh Lord, you can have all of me, the beauty that you’ve deposited deep within me and the emptiness of my sinful faults. I love you and am yours completely. Amen.”