Celebrating the Success of Another

Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:2-4

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Two… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Sandra Stanley opens today’s devotional with a blurb her husband, Andy, shared in his book Enemies of the Heart. Sandra and Andy had sons who loved baseball, and they were pitchers. Andy shares:

I always make a point of tracking down the other pitcher and telling him what a great job he did. And when I can figure out whose son he is, I congratulate the parents, too. It’s a habit that keeps my heart free and clear. Reaching out my hand to shake the hand of another father whose son out-pitched mine releases all that negative energy and puts everything back into perspective.

I’ve learned a lot from my daughter over the years. SHE used to do this when she was a competitive gymnast. I didn’t tell her to do it. She just started doing it. I was awed when I saw it for the first time.

She wasn’t always a star gymnast. There were many years where she’d stand on the floor far from the podium during the awards ceremony. Those were the hard years… it was hard to see your baby girl not “win,” and not walk away with a gold, silver or bronze medal to cherish on the drive home. That started to change, though.

As she started to head into her teen years, we got to see her on the podium. We also got to see her stand at the top many times as a lots-of-years, all-around state champion. Whether she was fifth, second or first, she’d always reach out to congratulate those around her for their job well done. It would have been so easy for her to focus on her success or her frustration (when she didn’t do as she had hoped), but she always made it a point to celebrate the success of those around her.

I learned a lot from watching my little girl
think of others and celebrate their success.
She taught me a lot.

Because of her, I started to congratulate the parents of her fellow competitors from other teams. It was weird to do so at first, but I knew how hard their daughters worked, because I knew how hard my daughter worked. I knew how proud those parents were of their daughters, because I knew how proud I was of my daughter.

“There’s something powerful and liberating about celebrating the success of other people,” says Sandra.

Yes, there is. There are people around you and around me everyday who deserve and desire to be celebrated, especially because they don’t hear it often enough in this critical world.

Out of humility, let’s offer them the hope which is found in recognizing them and considering their interests and successes!



Dressing Up My Selfish Ambitions

Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
~ James 3:14

The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Seven… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

“I quit.
Mom, I am done.
Please don’t make me go back there.
I don’t want to do it anymore.
Please, Mom.

We went through this a lot. My daughter was probably about 10 or 11, and she was an award-winning drama queen when it came to the ups and downs of gymnastics. This was the umpteenth time I’d heard it by this point, and there was just NO WAY I was going to let her quit.

“I know she loves her sport; it’s just tough to learn that new skill.”
“Her negative coaches don’t help matters, either.”
“It just seems easier for her to quit than it is to go back into that gym, to push through the mental challenges, to force her body to do something it isn’t naturally gifted to do, and to deal with their continual ‘you’ll never be good enough’ projections.”

This is what I’d tell myself all the time.

Similar to many of you reading this, I approached sports from the perspective that quitting is something you just don’t do. There may come a time when participation has run its course, but one just doesn’t quit.

“…especially my daughter.”

My not wanting her to quit when things got tough was mostly about teaching her hard lessons, but I do admit:  part of the reason I didn’t want her to walk away during these emotionally charged times was because it wouldn’t make me look good, either.

“What kind of parent allows her child to quit gymnastics over THAT?”
I regularly asked myself this question.
“Only a not-so-good one…”  is what I’d tell myself.
“…Only one who wasn’t completely dedicated to helping their daughter reach their potential…”
I sounded so smart to myself.

The fear of wondering what others would think was part of the reason I’d spend the 40-minute car ride home convincing her that everything would be ok, and that things would look different in the morning.

They did. She was usually ready to head right back into the gym, and I didn’t have to tell anyone that we were leaving the gym and quitting. I was pretty good at dressing up my semi-selfish ambitions.

NOTE:  She stuck with it for 13 years, reached Level 10, and was an all-around champion in our state many years in a row. Gymnastics did, though, run its course due to a devastating injury. She didn’t quit; she walked away, because it was what she knew needed to do at that point in her life. Through two seasons in a wheelchair and a struggle to heal her injuries, her mind and her body, she re-prioritized her focus on the sport and made her way back into the gym as a coach. Today, she’s a coach who works to inspire young gymnasts, and she’s a coach who helps parents understand the ups and downs their daughters experience in the sport. She’s the one who looks good, and she’s the one who has pushed herself to success. I celebrate her joy with her today, and today, it’s not at all about me.