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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Creation or Competition?

(c) Staci Stallings, 2005

This is a concept I've known intuitively for a long, long time. I grew up in a very competitive family that lived in a very competitive town that resided in a very competitive state, which was a part of a very competitive country, which was a small part of a very competitive world. In one way I was not a competitive child because I was not good at sports-any sports in any way. However, I see now how competitive I was in other areas like academics and band. Mostly I didn't compete with others; mostly I competed with myself, and often I lost.

One such competition I remember in the depths of who I am. I was in the fifth grade, and up until that year I had literally made A's in everything. Every subject. Every six weeks since I'd been in the first grade. And then I got that report card with a-gasp-B! I was crushed, devastated, destroyed.

We found out that the B represented the underlying score of 89. 89. One point from an A, and in all likelihood only 10ths of a point away, and yet those 10ths represented a chasm between who I thought I had to be in order to be worth something and who I felt like I now was.

It sounds so silly. How many people get devastated over a B? In fact, I'm sure if you didn't get straight A's all through school, you are probably saying, "Ah, poor baby. You got a B. It's tragic." But understand, to me, it was tragic. It was as if who I thought I was had died. Tears couldn't bring her back. Sorrow and guilt over what I could have or should have done to gain those coveted 10ths of a point couldn't bring the opportunity back. Nothing could.

As this period of my life progressed, my family over and over explained that it was all right. They still loved me. I came to accept that I wasn't perfect and that my worth wasn't my grades, but it was immensely difficult, and in truth it took until I was in college to really believe them.

So I know what havoc living with a competition-mind set can wreak in a life.

Competition has several underpinnings that are present when it is. The first is a belief in separateness. I am separate from those I am competing with, and thus, one of us can be better, smarter, more worthy of praise than the other. Another underpinning belief is that the good things in this life are inherently limited; therefore, if you want some of the good stuff, you must necessarily beat out someone else to get it.

These two lead to the dominant underpinning which is fear. For if I am separate, I am alone, and if I must necessarily fight for the limited resources, my ability must be greater than that of everyone else who is competing, or I will suffer. These equal one thing: Fear.

If I am in competition with you, and you get something I wanted, it follows that I will separate myself further from you, fall into greater fear, and believe more deeply that I must get better to get more. We see the attempt to subvert the naturalness of this progression played out at the end of a game (whatever the game). It's called "sportsmanship." Win or lose, you should shake the opposing squads hands as a sign of respect. But the truth is win or lose, you don't want to shake their hand. Why? Because if you've won, this show of respect necessarily brings the loser back up if not up to your level than closer. If you've lost, shaking the winner's hand affirms they are better than you and something you valued has been lost.

The world's dominant teaching is competition. We are taught from early on:

You must "learn to play the game."
You must maximize your ability to win (or get run over if you don't).
You have to do your best.
Study hard.
Work hard.
Play fair.
Make success your goal.
Accomplish. Triumph. Win.

All of these are the aims of a competitive world.

God is not competitive.

Let me repeat that: God is not competitive. God does not have to compete because in the simplest terms, who would He compete against? He who made the universe by saying, "Let there be..." could beat everyone at everything without so much as trying. God's power does not come from being competitive. No. God's power comes from being creative.

God creates. That's what He does. If He wants a mountain, He creates a mountain. He doesn't go out and try to talk someone else out of their mountain, nor does He work to gain a piece of a mountain. He doesn't have to. He can simply create a mountain, and so in a sense can we.

I have a young friend who wanted a laptop computer. She pined for one, begged for one, was desperate to get one. At the time she was learning to play the piano, and was early enough in her piano experience that competition hadn't entered the scene yet. One evening I told her mother to tell her that instead of "competing" for the laptop, she should concentrate on creating with her music. The more you create, the more "things" will flow to you. As of this writing, she has not gotten her laptop, but I have no doubt if she keeps creating, it is on its way.

My daughter loves rocks. She has from a very early age. Yesterday we took our first trip to a rock shop, and it was love beyond all telling. The man at the shop showed us how he cuts stone and can cut crosses and other shapes out of the stone. My daughter was fascinated. As we left, we talked about her getting a stone cutting saw so she can make her own creations out of stone.

She has recently gotten into creating things out of wood, and I know the two fit together. Learning one will advance her capacity to learn the other. In her eyes, I see the God of creation. Maybe that's why I like to write. I love the feeling of creating meaning by the patterned arrangement of 26 letters and 10 numbers. The greatest works of the world like the Bible were created using just these 36 characters. Think about that for a moment. It's astonishing, is it not?

What makes them masterpieces is the sheer ability to create, and someone else can create something equally amazing with the same 36 characters. You don't have to compete to use them. They are yours, and they are limitless.

The more I concentrate on creating, the happier I become. There was a time in my writing career when I would read of the achievements of others and become annoyed. Why did they get the book contract and I didn't? I see now how entrenched in the worldly philosophy of competition I was. In this philosophy when someone else wins, I lose because if the contracts are limited, them getting a contract means there are fewer for me.

And the tragedy of this mentality goes way beyond this example.

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about our girls' night out getting together night coming up. She said, "Okay, but this time I am paying because I need to pay you guys back." (She's new to our little group, so I understood where she was coming from.) I told her that among Holy Spirit friends paying is relative. We aren't keeping score-at all. I couldn't tell you who's ahead, who's not, who owes whom what, and it literally doesn't matter.

When I first started this little group, I intuitively "knew" it would be different than the way I had always done things. It started with another friend of mine. I began giving her gifts-books and other uplifting things. After about the fifth thing that I'd brought over for no reason other than I wanted to (it wasn't her birthday or even a special day on the calendar), she protested, "Staci!" To which, I said, "No. It's not about you having to pay me back. It's only about... I want to share with you what I have. I want to share the blessings in my life."

As I told our new Holy Spirit friend, I have so many blessings flowing through my life, it is natural to me to share what I have with others. She said something that sounds very good, "Yea, but I just want to pay my fair share." Ah. That's the way the world thinks. "I must pay. I must pull my own weight. I must give my fair share, or you will not want to be around me."

In worldly terms this makes sense. If I pay for your meal and my resources are limited, then you'd better pay me back or I now have less because of you. In other words, you owe me to bring me back to even. But that's not how it works in a creation-based paradigm. From a creation-based perspective, I have what I need because if the resource is not here, it can be created or obtained through my creation of something else in order to trade for the resource. Think of the resources now using a different term-blessings. The unlimited blessings in my life flow through me onto you when I pay for your meal. That doesn't mean I now have less because I gave you some. In fact, and you know this in relation to love, the more love I give away the more I have.

That's how it is with God. The more you give away, the more you have. In a creation-based reality, the resources are not limited-they are limitless. If you need more, you simply ask for more or better yet create more. More and more and more is available if you focus on God's resources and learn to create just as God does. As you do this, you will let go of fear-filled, limited, competition thinking and being, and more will be added to you.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God (create and creation), and all these things shall be added unto you." Learn to create. Let go of having to compete. It will change everything.

Looking for awesome inspiration? Head over to Staci's website where you can gleen insights galore! You'll feel better for the experience!

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