I live in a community that has a lot of amenities. Good schools, nice neighborhoods, tasty restaurants. I live in a community that has a lot of amenities. High pressure jobs, stress, and a desire for excellence even from the youngest children. In a single email from my oldest child’s school there was publicity for a lecture about escaping the competition trap AND a notice to submit your ACT scores to go on the “Wall of Excellence.” I’m not knocking the people responsible for this. I’m really not. Sometimes it feels like a machine that you’re in, and every moving part is spinning around you. And you can see the flawed parts of the machine, but you’re in it. And short of going off the grid, you’re staying in it.
I’m old. Maybe not chronologically old. But old. Sometimes I do something to my back, and it seizes. I wish I could say it happens when I’m wrestling grizzlies, but it’s more like when I reach for a napkin or I’m putting my seatbelt on. Anyway, when this happens I get my George Jefferson walk going and live with the pain until things loosen up. Sometimes when it’s really bad, I need to go to the chiropractor. Now, since my problem is muscular, I always go to a chiropractor that specializes in sports injuries. That’s what I tell people. Truthfully, I go to these specialists in the hope that I won’t feel as old, and with the dream that someone might look at me in the waiting room and think, “Grizzlies.”
A couple years ago, I George Jeffersoned myself into the waiting room of someone I hadn’t seen before, but who came highly recommended as someone to help with sports injuries. When I first sat down (which was not fun), I thought I was in a waiting room with a bunch of kids waiting on their parents. But I wasn’t. I was in a waiting room with a bunch of parents waiting on their kids. Pitching arms, kicking legs, tennis elbows. You name the scholarship investment, and it was in that room.
Everybody has to be awesome. Second place is the first loser. If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.
In the Bible there’s this guy named Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarah are wealthy, but they’re old. Like older than me old. Shortly before they turn 100, God promises them that they’re going to have a child. This is a big deal. Abraham is promised that he will be “the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” To Sarah, God promises, “She shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Again, a big deal.
So their son Isaac is born. This promise, this blessing, this miracle finally arrives. And you know what happens? Not much. Isaac is remembered for two things. 1) His dad almost killed him. A story I have always hated, but thanks to Doug Pagitt, I have a little different take on. 2) He mistook goat skin for his son’s hands. That’s it. That’s what the promise did. That’s what the blessing accomplished. That’s what the miracle achieved.
Shouldn’t he have done more? Shouldn’t we all be telling our children about Isaac? Shouldn’t his be a name that makes people think of a great biblical hero, not Daiquiri’s on the Lido Deck?
Then, something occurred to me a couple years ago, and I am grateful for the realization. See, without Isaac, there’s no Jacob. Without Isaac, there’s no Joseph or Judah. No Jesse. No David. No Solomon. Even Jesus is part of this line.
Maybe Isaac wasn’t supposed to be awesome all on his own. Maybe Isaac was supposed to be part of something awesome, something bigger than any one individual could be on his own.
Maybe you’re not supposed to cure cancer. Maybe you’re not supposed to win a Nobel prize or a Heisman or a Grammy.
Maybe you’re supposed to stay healthy. Maybe you’re supposed to read to your kids or sing really loud in the car. Maybe you’re supposed to work toward a vision, the fruits of which you will never see. Maybe you’re part of something bigger.
Maybe there’s something better than always being the best.