As always in the summer, I’ve spent hours and hours at the pool – knitting during swim practice, cheering during meets, and volunteering with other parents.

If you’ve ever watched a meet full of young swimmers, you’ve seen them turn their heads one way then the other.  They aren’t turning their heads to breathe.  They’re looking for the competition.  Who’s in first?

It really is natural.  They just want to know how they’re doing, but the problem is that each glance slows them down.  How do I know?  As soon as they break this habit, face forward, and swim, their times drop, drop, drop.

Young swimmers aren’t the only people who check out the competition although they may be the only ones doing it in the pool.  Whether you are glancing around to see if your child is the only one wiggling during the school program, sizing up dishes at a pot luck to see if yours is being consumed as fast as the rest, or trying to get a glimpse of someone else’s numbers at the weigh in, you are comparing yourself to others.

The problem is that if you’re ahead, you often wind up feeling smug. Too bad not everyone is as good a cook, parent, or dieter as you.

If you’re behind, envy may crowd its way into your heart.  Why can’t your child be so pleasant?  Your crust so flaky?  Your butt so small?

I don’t know your situation so I don’t know if you should be trying for a better covered dish or a smaller behind, but I do know that God doesn’t want us strutting around feeling smug or sulking by the sidelines.  He wants us to reflect His Love and Light into the world.

The thing is – it is much easier to do this if we are paying attention to Him and not to how we stack up against the competition, whether the contest is real or only in our heads.

Quit glancing to the sides.  Instead, look to Him for the inspiration you need to shine His Light, His Love, and His Mercy into the world.  When you do, you’ll notice a big, big difference.