(Originally posted on our former blog site on 12/27/2012)
You are guaranteed to find two things at our dinner table: Good food and a four year old looking for a race. Every night it is the same thing, “Mom, am I beating you?” And like the good Mom that I believe myself to be I usually respond with, “No, you’re not Michael”.
It may say sound harsh but I am trying to prepare him for the real world. The world in which people will run further, jump higher, and maybe even eat faster than him. Yes, this real world does exist. The part that breaks my heart is after I have told Michael that in fact I am beating him, he then shrugs his shoulders and says, “I guess I’m not awesome”. Of course I give him the talk about how he is wonderful and awesome. About how just because I am eating faster than him does not take that fact away.
But in his four year old little mind the only conclusion he can make is this-
If you are winning, then I am not.
When did we start to believe this lie? I am not talking about sports or competitions of any kind that clearly call for a rank of some sorts. I am however talking about the day to day life in which we struggle to be happy for someone else’s victory if we are struggling with defeat in that same area. It sounds so easy to say “I’m happy for you”- but when it comes down to it, it is a lot harder to get out of our mouth and even harder to mean with our whole heart.
If paying someone a compliment means depleting your own happiness or self-worth, then you are drawing from the wrong account!
I have been on both sides of this topic!
I have been the one to share good news and I have also been the one to hear about it.
I have been the one to want for years to own my own home only to hear friend after friend tell me their exciting news about buying their first house.
I have been the one to want a third child only to have an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage while friend after friend find out that they are pregnant.
I have been the one to want the ability to buy excessive amounts of new clothing only to see friend after friend walking around in some.
I understand what it is like to have to say “I’m happy for you” through the grinding of your teeth and the biting of your lip. It is hard, and sometimes not even truthful. But at the end of the day if I can bring myself to say that I am happy for them and truly mean it, you better believe that I am not saying that I am sad for me. The two are not related.
And while their victories may be a reminder of my defeat- it is not a reflection of it!
After my little pep talk with Michael about how he is awesome even though I may be eating faster, I always end it with “now, say ‘Good Job Mommy’”. I know that it is hard for him because he puts his head down and underneath his breath you can barely make out those three little words that I asked him to repeat.
But he says it.
And then I shrink down to look at him face to face and tell him “Now you say, ‘I’ll get you next time!’” This part he can say with much excitement and it makes my heart happy. The competitive side of him kicks in and he realizes that it is not the end. There will be many many more dinners. And that is the reality of it all. There will be many more chances for victory in your own life even if at the moment you are walking in defeat. You too will one day have the ability to shop until you drop, meet the love of your life or get the keys to a fancy new car.
And just because someone gets it first doesn’t mean that you won’t.
So practice saying it with me, “I’m happy for you!”
Exodus 20:17 You must not covet your neighbor's house. You must not covet your neighbor's wife [or boyfriend], male or female servant [or mother who cleans for them], ox or donkey [or corvette], or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.