Friday, July 19, 2013
See this picture? The one golf tee remaining in the Peg Jump game is proof that I am a genius. It says so right on the wooden triangle--"One peg = "Wow, genius!" I have waiting my entire life to solve this puzzle. (Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration considering that I didn't start playing the game until I bought one while on vacation at age ten.) For a girl whose kindergarten teacher responded to her inability to learn colors with "Maybe she's just dumb," this was a very exciting day. There is only one problem with getting down to one peg: unless you took notes while playing that perfect game, or decide to cheat by looking up the solution online, the chances of acheiving greatness a second time are pretty slim.
Over the weekend, I played this game over and over again, and the best I could hope for was two pegs, which the instructions call "Above average." Not bad, but "'Wow,' Genius!" felt so much better. A few times I ended up with three, earning a "So-so." And then there were the moments when four pegs stared up at me, which the game-makers consider "Pretty bad." The longer I played only to realize that I'd set a standard for myself that I might never measure up to again, the more I fought a sense of failure. What had I done differently on that glorious Saturday afternoon?
Yes, I know it is just a game, but it was amazing how quickly I bought into the message that earning a "So-so," or heaven forbid a "Pretty bad" meant I was no longer a genius, as if that wooden triangle with ten golf tees stuck into it measured my intelligence. I have come a long way in my battle with wrapping my identity and value up in the wrong things, but this obsession with the Peg Jump reminded me how easy it is to slip back into old patterns of connecting it to achievements and what others think of or say about me. It also drove home the destructive nature of this trap--that when I allow success, opinions, or whatever that desired thing is to make or break how I feel, it is very difficult to enjoy triumphs, relationships, and the joys of life, because there is always a standard to fear not measuring up to.
At least this time, I was able to see the silliness it in all, set that crazy game down, and refuse to let the words on a piece of wood label me. Maybe it's time to do the same in a few other areas.
What about you? What have you allowed to make or break your sense of value lately? What is God teaching you about who you are in Him?