anything you can do...the annie oakley syndrome

anything you can do, i can do better.  i can do anything better than you.  no, you can't. yes, i can. no, you can't. yes, i can. no, you can't. yes, i can, yes, i can!

annie get your gun

and that's not all.  annie goes on to sing a laundry list of things that she can do better...

  • she is greater than you
  • she can sing anything higher than you
  • she can say anything softer than you
  • she can hold any note longer than you
  • she can say anything faster than you
  • she can sing anything sweeter than you
  • in what you wear she'd look better than you
  • she can even buy anything cheaper than you...

doesn't it feel like sometimes, we are all secretly [or perhaps, more blatantly] singing this song to one another?  constantly one-upping and competing and comparing.  yuck.  how often do i pull an annie oakley?  what is this need to be better than everyone?  why am i competing?  why do i compare myself to others?  a pretty pathetic state of things if you ask me.

and i think that this syndrome can be especially true of women.  sometimes it is as visible as an overt assault and sometimes it is veiled by a toss of the hair, an extra coat of pink gloss, or a backhanded compliment.

we set the stage and put ourselves on display in a real-life pageant of sorts [more like three ring circus or cage match].  welcome to...the who is better show!  it is caddy and absurd.  fighting it out over who has the best wardrobe.  who has the prettiest hair.  who has the biggest house.  who has the greatest career.  who has the cutest children.  who has the sweeter voice.  and yes, even who thrift store shops better.  [i can buy anything cheaper than you]  it isn't just about looking great,  it is about looking greater than you.  we hold up mirrors and yardsticks and scales and bank statements to compare and see who comes out on top.  these blatant comparisons and competitions eat away at our relationships.  and, they eat away at our contentment.

what's worse?  the quiet comparisons.  the ones you say to yourself and keep tucked away in your mind.  the ones that eat away at you.  the deadly comparisons that make you feel less than and unworthy. you know.  the ones that sound like...look what she is wearing, i wish i could pull that off.  i wish my skin looked like that.  if only i had her curly hair.  if only i had her straight hair.  everything always works out for her.  she gets to stay at home with her children.  she gets to go to work and engage in meaningful pursuits.  i wish i could cook like her.  i wish i had her metabolism.  ashes, ashes, we all fall down. 

the world is ripe with opportunities to compare and compete.  why do i engage?  even if i do win in one of the aforementioned categories, that fleeting joy will soon be overshadowed by the misery and disappointment of losing in the others.  what a mess.  and yes, we all fall down.

truly, i should never ever strive to be "better than you".  and in reality, most of time i am just competing with myself.  my concocted ideas about what i think i should be and what others think i should be.  this just leads to more comparison and competition and discontentment.  the only thing that i should be striving for is holiness.  to image Christ more and more.  to grow in my likeness to Him.  if i am going to look to anything as my model for life, let it be Christ.  i should only press on and strive for the heavenly prize.  a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.  who cares about what others have and do.  i need to fix my gaze on Christ so that i begin to reflect more of His beauty.  less time looking in the mirror - more time looking at His Word.  less time focusing on others - more time focusing on His mercies and grace and shekinah glory.  less time competing with others - more time allowing Him to shape my life.  less time comparing - more time contemplating my own actions.  as my pastor used to say...God has given each of us a bag.  a bag with contents uniquely purposed for you.  an assortment of talents and graces and blessings.  each one a good gift given by the Father above.  we must learn to use what God has given us.  and, to keep our noses in our own bag.

here's to not being nosey or sticking our nose up at others.