Competitive Kenz.

Sweat drips from the player’s foreheads, the point guard calls out the play. You hear the squeak of basketball shoes making contact with the freshly cleaned court. The shot goes up. A hush falls over the gym. It almost feels as if time stops. Swish. The crowd roars. The timer buzzes. The game is over. Victory.

I spent a majority of my high school and college career watching my little brothers play basketball, and this scenario was often a reality. Well, it wasn’t always victory, sometimes it was defeat. I am that person who yells, hollers and cheers for my brothers like a mad woman. And it’s all worth it when they shoot a 3 pointer and all you hear is that sweet “swish.” But one thing is for certain: I like to win. Board games like Settlers of Catan are my jam. I love card games. Dutch Blitz is a family favorite because it’s about speed. And then there is my all time favorite card game, Hand and Foot. I could write an entire blog post on my love for the game Hand and Foot, but I’ll spare you (for now, anyway). I’ve also always enjoyed sports growing up, although I was never the most athletic one on the field. I played volleyball and soccer throughout high school, and I took up running in college. Running has become my favorite form of exercise, because it’s me against myself. It’s a mental game of how far I can go, pushing myself to run just a little bit further.

I consider myself a competitive person. Recently, some family members have gotten FitBits, and we’ve been challenging each other in the “workweek hustle.” When I’m laying in bed staring at the ceiling at 5:45am, I remember that I’m competing in one of these challenges, and it helps give me motivation to get up and start out my mornings with a brisk walk, a well-paced jog, or a solid run. I’ve been motivated recently to exercise without the competitive aspect because I enjoy knowing I’m taking care of my body. Plus, I love having more energy throughout the day, and I sleep more soundly at night. But there is something about the aspect of healthy competition that gets me going in the mornings.

Something that has slowly changed for me over the years is the ability to lose well. I’m still learning, definitely have not mastered this mentality yet. The older I get, I still have that competitive nature, but my attitude is different after defeat. Less anger, more drive. Less sadness, more admiration. Sometimes I believe my competitiveness can turn into idolatry. “If I only had ____, then I would be happy.” Lately, it’s been “if only I ran those extra miles, then I would be happy.” But I’m only fooling myself. I’m striving to be healthier, but it’s not where I’m putting my hope. I think this all links with my previous post Identity Crisisabout what it means to “put your identity in Christ.” I believe this is one example of that, to not idolize these worldly ideas of what will satisfy us. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). I realize this idea is nothing profound, but it’s a lesson I have to teach and preach to myself often because idols have a way of creeping up without me recognizing them. Or, even worse, I recognize them and I try and disguise them. “I’m going to run that extra mile because it’s good for me!” instead, when I’m honestly thinking “I’m going to run that extra mile because I want to say I ran further than so-and-so.” Besides, I’ve learned there is beauty and growth that can only take place in losing. This sounds awfully familiar to the Christian life, doesn’t it? Christ giving up his life so we may gain eternal life. And in turn, we must surrender our life to Christ in order to be saved. But in the end, Christ has victory. So in our loss, we gain victory through Jesus.

Ah, sweet victory.

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