Today is my 30th birthday and I have been fielding a lot of questions about how I feel. Significant marks in age, like decades, are supposed to make us feel different or at least a little more introspective. And while I’m not experiencing a third-of-my-life crisis, my introspection has led to a lot of comparing. Instead of freaking out about turning 30, I’ve been asking older people what they were doing and what they had accomplished by the time they hit three decades.
By the time my grandpa was 30, he had been married for four years, had been a missionary in Ecuador for two years, was preaching in Spanish and had planted his first church.
By the time my father was 30, he had left his childhood home of Hawaii, married my mother and had two children, my sister and me.
By the time James T. Kirk was 30, he had conquered the Kobayashi Maru, explored space and was one year away from commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise.
I haven’t planted a church, I don’t have any children and I’m not a year away from boldly going where no one has gone before.
God didn’t create me to be my grandfather, my father or Captain Kirk, though. God created me to be me.
God didn’t create you to be your mother, your neighbor or Captain Picard. God created you to be you.
Our church is going through John Ortberg’s series The Me I Want to Be. One of the main ideas in the series is that God didn’t create us to be like anyone else; he created us to be us. Acorns don’t grow into rose bushes or sycamore trees, they grow into oak trees. And we aren’t supposed to grow into our parents or starship captains, we’re supposed to grow into us, the people that God created us to be.
It’s difficult to trust in that though, whether celebrating a birthday or not. It’s much easier to look around and compare ourselves to everyone else. Even if God has created me to be a Japanese lilac tree, it’s still easy to wish that I was supposed to be a sequoia, they’re much larger and far more spectacular.
No matter how hard we try, though, we can’t be anything other than what God created us to be. And when we try to be something that we’re not, we’ll never reach the potential for which God intended us.
It would be awesome to captain the Enterprise or plant a church, but God has created us specifically for something so much better.
What helps you avoid comparing yourself to others?