Have you ever felt pressure to keep up with someone else? We often call it “Keeping up with the Joneses.” And honestly, it just is real easy to compare ourselves to others, and feel like we need to somehow be like them, be as good as they are at whatever, have as nice a house as they do, and on and on.
Recently I had all the Black belts and brown belts partner up and work on some advanced kicking techniques. It was very interesting to see how wildly varying the performance was. And it became evident very quickly that many of our advanced students need a lot of work on these kinds of techniques. Truth is they are difficult, which is why its important to practice them and keep those skills fresh so they will work when needed. Some of the brown belts did much better at some of the techniques than the Black belts, and on some the opposite was the case. Few, if any, did them all well, and I think it was a bit of a reality check for many of the students. But then, that’s exactly why we train. If we only practiced the stuff we’re already good at we’d never improve at all!
One of the things that we all struggle with on some level is our pride, and so in this case many students had trouble with the realization that they were not doing better at these skills than the students below them in rank. Not a bad thing, as that will inspire them to train more correctly on those skills that really need the work. Truth is not everyone is even physically as able as others either. I know that I am not able do some of the things I used to be able to do with ease. Some of that is age and some is the old body parts not working as well as they used to because of various injuries. So I just do the best I can and don’t worry about it.
The bottom line is that one of the terrific things about martial arts training is that we really don’t have to keep up with anyone! We will want to of course, but we don’t have too. We simply train at our own pace, doing the best we can and hopefully have a blast along the way.
Faith is much the same. We can look at some of the amazing people of faith like Billy Graham etc., and by comparison feel like we’re pretty much worthless because there’s just no way we can keep up with people like that. Well, the good news is we don’t have too.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
We’re not saved because of anything we do, we’re saved because God chooses to love us and offers us the gift of eternal life. Period. Of course once we accept that gift it should cause us to want to do good things and live righteously for God, but that isn’t what saves us. St. Augustine said “Love God and do what you please.” I love that! When you truly love God, what you please to do, what you will want to do, is what He wants.
You see, God doesn’t want you to be Billy Graham. He already has one of those. He wants you to be YOU! He doesn’t want you to try and keep up with anyone else, do what they do, look, act, or even think like they do. He wants you to be you. Period.
There’s an old saying: “God don’t make no junk”, and that is so true. So you don’t need to worry about keeping up with the Joneses, the Grahamses, or the Hagelganzes (obviously!) just be you. And as you are sold out to God, living every moment for Him, just watch what amazing things He will do through your life!