Monday, April 25, 2011



Have you ever heard the song, “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better”? It’s been used tyme and again in various television shows like The Nanny and a variety of other entertainment outlets from comic strips to video games. My latest encounter with the song however was when I attended a High School production of the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun”.

While the students and the teachers put on an excellent performance, one of the most memorable things about the play was this song. Initially I was shocked because, having heard it here and there, I was not aware that the song was originally written for a musical, let alone a western like Annie Get Your Gun. The second wave of shock came when I considered what the song was really about; comparisons.

In the song, the players go back and forth, trying to out do each other on a variety of challenges from shooting to singing to shopping – oh my! It’s an outlandish battle of conceit, fought to determine who is “best”.

Now, you might be thinking that it was just a play and all in the favor of amusement. While that’s true, the underlying theme of the song is one that is so true to life and a constant struggle for many. I mean really, who does not want to be the best at everything he or she tries to do? I’m rather certain that most people do not set out to do something, hoping to be horrible at it. No one enters a contest with the intention of coming in last. It’s human nature to want to be good at what we try, but a lot of tymes our efforts fall short or we don’t even try because we focus on “our competition”. By doing so, we either lose our nerve or convince ourselves that we’re not as good as the person standing next to us, so we shouldn’t bother trying.

How many blessings are missed because we overlook the main point and focus on trivial nonsense?

Case in point:

I recently went back to the gym after months of absence due to physical and emotional burdens. I enjoy running on the elliptical and cross-training machines; treadmills and my back do not get along. Before my absence, I had trained to the point where I could meet my tyme and mileage goals with a certain ease. After my absence, well, suffice it to say that the ease was gone, replaced by unwelcome difficulty. I realized that I put on some weight and my stamina was definitely not what it used to be.

In my first week back, my tymes were up by a good twenty seconds a mile and I got very frustrated. When I shared this frustration with a friend, she verbally whacked me in the head by informing me that I was missing the point. My slower running tymes were the trivial nonsense. The fact that I finally felt well enough to go back to the gym was the major blessing.

I was too busy comparing my current tymes with my past tymes to realize that I overlooked the fact that I felt better than I had in a long, long tyme. That happens so often in life. We compare ourselves to who we used to be, to who the world thinks we should be or to other people and we miss out on the blessings that God so greatly desires to give us. God isn’t concerned with whether or not I run a 6 minute mile, all He cares about it the fact that I’m taking care of myself and I’m grateful to Him that I can put on foot in front of the other.

God isn’t concerned with whether we win first place in a singing contest, but rather that we are choosing to honor Him with our voice. It doesn’t matter if we’re not “the best” musician, photographer, carpenter, volleyball player or whatever. All God wants is for us to do our best and use the talents He gave us to glorify Him.

I am convinced that without Jesus I am nothing, but with Jesus, I have no need to compare myself to anything or anyone, including myself. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We are all unique, specially designed by God and loved equally and individually by Him. It might not be easy (trust me, even though I know it, I still struggle with it), but if you’re letting something or someone prevent you from using the talents God gave you, STOP!

God wants you to use your gifts, whether polished or not, and if you’re using them to please Him, nothing else matters! To Jesus you are one of a kind and if He doesn’t compare you to anyone, why should you?


Rose Colored Glasses

Something happened this week that brought to mind a song titled “Rose Colored Glasses”. The version I’m thinking of was written by George F. Baber and John Conlee and performed by the latter of the two. The song entertains the emotional battle of a man trying to understand a relationship in which he invested a great deal tyme and effort only to have it go awry. As he analyzes the life he has with his girlfriend, he basically concludes that breaking ties is the best thing for both of them, but he always finds a way to refute his deduction; his rose colored glasses.

“These rose colored glasses that I’m looking through,
show only the beauty ‘cause they hide all the truth.”

Those two short lines are rather significant when you think about it. A lot of tymes we see what we want to see instead of what is real or what is right in front of us. Our judgment gets clouded by our thoughts of the way something should be and by the tyme we’re finished, the old rusty tractor in the front yard is the latest model, fresh off the assembly line. Point being, the color of a rose can beauty up even the worst of situations.

The happening this week, however, made me wonder if the opposite is true as well. Now, what the opposite of rose colored glasses might be in similar terms, I’m not sure; thorn colored glasses perhaps? The concept however would be that when wearing ‘thorn colored glasses’, we see something as far worse than it really is.

To better relay the situation, allow me to offer this background. There are two men in my acquaintance that have very dissimilar outlooks on practically every aspect of their existence. It’s probably safe to say that their accounts of agreement in their fifty plus years of association are of percentages smaller than that of an atom. Up is to down and east is to west when it comes to both the personalities and mindsets of these men.

Now, perhaps you think me a bit overdramatic, but in all honesty, drama seems to be the key ingredient in the dishes that these two men offer on the menu. I cannot describe it, but the animosity that exists between them is incomprehensible at best and at worst, well, I don’t think I want to venture down that destructive path. Suffice it to write that over the years the differences between them have constructed a wall of abhorrence that no one can scale, though many a good person has tried.

So this week when both men were party to a particular function, you can only imagine the arrows of hostility soaring through the room and the rumble of under the breath, back handed comments that ensued. It was really a sad display of humanity or perhaps a lack of humanity altogether. I think the worst thing about it though was how it affected everyone else in the room. I watched people tense, hang their heads, shield their eyes and some I think sat in earnest prayer as the mood of the room blackened with every angry word spoken between them.

The incident was disguised as a current issue, but as I listened to the irritation behind the words, I knew there was more to it that what was being said. Looking back, I wish I’d asked the Lord for the courage to call both men out on the underlying issues instead of trying to defuse the one that was about to explode in front of me, but as the old adage says, hindsight is 20/20. It’s that hindsight however that prompted me to my theory of “thorn colored glasses”. Truth be told, the current “issue”, while important on some level, was being clouded by years and years of ill will toward each other. I then had to ask myself, were these two men viewing each other through clear eyes or were they so jaded by the past that even the smallest issue seemed so problematic that it warranted World War III?

There was a point when Moses was struggling to keep the Israelites in order and finally in Deuteronomy 1:12 he said to them, “But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering?” The truth is, only Jesus can bear such a heavy load as two men who refuse to deal with their problems. I know now that I cannot change either of these men, nor can I make them see things any differently. I can pray for them, but in the end, only Jesus can perform the necessary eye surgery and eliminate their desire to wear “thorn colored glasses”.