What God is Teaching Me While I Swim

Since the first of the year I have been swimming regularly. The first day it was all I could do to swim 8 laps. Now I swim 60 laps 4 days a week. (For your information, 54 laps is 1.5 miles.) I have lost a little bit of weight since January and my energy level is up. I am at the point now that if I miss a day swimming I don’t feel like I have accomplished much. I hope I keep it up. In addition to swimming, with the warmer weather, I have been trying to ride my bike more. Some days I ride 10+ miles in addition to swimming. The best thing is, with all that exercise, I don’t have to worry so much about dieting. I have been eating smarter, but I still eat the foods I like.

This blog, however, is not about physical fitness. It’s about comparing yourself with others.

I am competitive my nature. I have found my competitive streak to be a huge hinderance to my spiritual life. The competitor in me wants to not only be the best I can be, but it wants to be better than you. If you beat me at something, I will work harder than you to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I do not believe this to be a strength. In fact, I believe that attitude is sinful. My competitive nature has kept me from accepting who I am and who God has created me to me. I am changing. God is working on me. I am more comfortable in my own skin than I used to be, but every once in a while the competitive beast still gains momentary control.

Like when I am swimming.

While swimming laps, if someone is in the lane beside me, I can’t help but race. I want to be faster. If they are faster than me, I make excuses as to why: “They are younger than me.” “I bet they swim competitively.” “I am not a trained swimmer.” “I bet I could beat them in a game of basketball.” “They are probably on steroids.”

If I am faster than them, it’s because I am in better shape, I’m a stronger swimmer, I am more coordinated. I’m just all around better than them.

God has humbled me while swimming. Once, a young girl, no more than 14, swam laps around me. On another occasion I guy, about my age, was a whole lot faster than me. I went through all of my excuses as to why, but then when he stopped swimming, and was just standing in the water, I noticed he only had 1 leg. Today, there was a guy, older than me, who could barely swim. I was a lot faster than him. I felt good about myself. That is, until I learned he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Here is the point: Comparing yourself to someone else is a complete waste of time. It doesn’t matter if it is in sports, academics, looks, musical abilities, or spiritually, it is a waste of energy to compare yourself with anyone. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

God created you just to be you. He has gifted you with exactly what you need to fulfill His purpose in your life. No one else can be you but you. No one else can take your place. There is no need to spend time trying to be like anyone else but who God created you to be.

That’s what God has been teaching me as I have been swimming and swimming and swimming and swimming.

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