Ever feel like your attempts at something new are threatened by the fact that so many other people are not only already doing it, but they are doing it better? I was behind a car today with a bumper sticker that read “I run 26.2 miles.” Putting aside my initial confusion (Run? You run 26.2 miles? Like, as in right now? Present tense? Really?), my thoughts after reading this were as follows:

Wow. 26.2 miles. I wonder how far that is? If I started running right now, where would I stop and it be 26.2 miles? I could run a marathon. If I trained. How would you train for that? Where would I begin? How long would it take? Think of all the people who have already run marathons and who are (according to the bumper sticker) in the process of running marathons and how far behind am I already in being able to run a marathon so what’s the point?

And then the light turned green and I forgot about it.

I have no desire to run a marathon, let me assure you. But it has made me think. How many things in the world have not been done because people are afraid to start? What are we afraid of? That we won’t win the marathon? That we won’t be the best dancer ever? Write the best book ever? Be the best cook ever?

Or worse…maybe I’ll look stupid.

Or worse worse…maybe it isn’t that so many other people are doing it better, maybe it’s that no other people are doing it at all. And the idea of being the first is just too…much.

It’s easy for me to get stuck there…to forget that success does not necessarily lie in the outcome of the attempt. And I won’t even say it is found in the mere fact that I attempted it…because maybe my reasons for doing so were wrong in the first place. But the Lord, He has plans for me. Plans to prosper, to give hope and a future. Will I allow my fear of attempting something to hinder or delay those plans?

Here’s a newsflash worthy of remembering: I don’t have to be the best. And it’s ok to be the first. Because life isn’t about how I compare with you or them or myself, for that matter. And when its not about me, the fear seems to lose its power and life becomes a lot more fun.