Thursday, May 17, 2012

One Life to Lose

Are you thirsty for a win?  You're not the only one.

We live our lives like everything is a competition.  Like we have to be the first, the best, the greatest to be anything at all.  We vie for attention, for recognition, for success, for status, even for love.  I spent this past Friday and Saturday teasing my mother, "I know what both of my brothers got you for Mother's Day...and I'm coming in distant third this year.  Distant.  Third."

The first time I said it, I probably meant it.  If you know me at all, you know I can have an uber-competitive streak in me.  I'm working on toning it down - that is, God is chipping it out of me - but it lingers a bit.

Anyway, the first time I said it, there was a tinge of worry in my heart.  That I was about to come in third to my older brothers.  But I was laughing when I said it because something in me was simply teasing, and I looked up to see my mother laughing right back.  Smiling, and joking, "Probably."  It was the kind of awesome tender moment you can have when for a split second, you realize your mother is also your friend.

Her smile, took the competition right out of me.  It was an invitation to joy.  And in an instant, I started hoping that I really did come in third.  That she was about to be blessed beyond her wildest imagination with a Mother's Day she'd never forget.  That we'd never be able to wipe the smile off her face.  That she would some new and special truly loved she is.

This is the delicate balance of self-deprecation.  It wasn't about busting myself down, worrying about how my gift might measure up; I started teasing her that I was coming in third while at the same time talking up the other gifts I knew were coming her way, without revealing any hints as to what they might be.  I wanted to be third.  Not because necessarily my brothers needed a win, but because mom always needs a win.  (Your mom, too, always needs a win.  Remember that.)  You're gonna love it, I just kept telling her.  You're going to be so surprised and excited.  It's going to be fantastic.  Until you get to my gift, then just pat me on the head and pretend you like it.  Then, I'd laugh again and she'd sigh that sigh with a little hint of smile in it.  And I had great fun teasing her leading up to Sunday morning.

I simply wasn't worried any more about coming in third.  Or coming in first with an upset.  I wasn't concerned about whether she would like it or hate it.  Whether it was anything or nothing.  It was my love for her, and that day was being gifted back to me in love.

Because that's what happens when you give up the win.  You get back the love.  You get back the joy.  You get something more out of it than a win could ever give you.  And I loved watching this family loving her back, watching her smile, hearing her talk about the day and her kids, seeing her laugh at how obtrusively large her new snowball bush is going to grow, looking at her lying in bed with one eye out the window and one eye on her new bird identification book, staring at the feeders and the little baby birds coming up from the back yard.  Not feeling pressured.  Not feeling nagged.  Not being asked to judge.  Simply open.  An open moment.

A moment for something more than the win.  And let me tell you - what a blessing it was to see my mother enjoy the win.  Joy...grace...peace...quiet...these are the win.  Love.  That is the win.

At one point in the morning, my mother hugged me in the driveway, standing near the gift I had built for her, and she said simply, "You didn't come in third.  I love it."

While I was celebrating her win and giving her time just to be, wouldn't you know it?  God had to get His gift in.  Three, and then a fourth, beautiful yellow finches showed up at the birdfeeder just outside her bedroom window.  While she was lying there, relaxing, and watching the birds come in and out.  She has long yearned for yellow finches, and here they were.

I was thankful I wasn't concerned about the win any more.  Because you just can't compete with that. There's just no way.

And I picture God knowing what He'd just done and just smiling.  "I get the win," He says.  "But I'm sharing it with you."

So we spent the evening watching for finches.

Are you thirsty for a win?  You're not the only one.  What would happen if you gave up your win for something grander?

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