I was recently reintroduced to this box at the gym. It's not too intimidating of a picture, but seeing the real thing can cause my heart to beat faster, especially if my trainer is placing it on the floor in front of me. It's 20 inches high, and the invitation always starts with the same words. "You're going to place one foot on top and step up." These words are sometimes followed with, "while holding this kettle ball" or "and then lift your other knee straight up as high as you can before putting your foot back down on the floor."
It's an exercise that requires balance and determination. My legs haven't always been strong enough to pull my weight on top of the box, let alone get my other knee high in the air, too.
But I did it yesterday. And, I was doing really well with my balance and form...until I started to watch what another woman was doing on a box a few feet away from mine. Her kettle bell was much larger than anything I'd taken on top of the box with me. And I started to get intimidated. I started to compare myself to her until I forced myself to stop and turn my body away from her so I could not see her anymore.
I spend a lot of time telling other people to live their story - to stop comparing themselves to others or yearning for talents and gifts other people have. But I still got caught up in the similar cycle of desire yesterday morning.
And I'll need to work hard to avoid the trap of comparison today.
It's a day where countless colleagues are posting the schedules for their Christmas Eve services. The largest of our denomination's churches started celebrating Christmas Eve a few days ago in order to accommodate the masses who will flock to their spaces to sing, "Joy to the World." Another colleague who I don't even know posted a schedule of eight services scheduled for today, and he'll preach each one - in different locations around a city in the Midwest. I see these schedules and am suddenly reminded of my context.
There may be more people showering in the church building this morning than worshippers in the sanctuary tonight. More than half of our congregation has gone "home" - a place far away from the city of Washington. Many restaurants will be closed around us. Traffic will be at it's best. I'll never forget one colleague's statement following his first Christmas Eve in a Washington church - "That was the most depressing thing ever." He was used to overflowing crowds instead of being in a place where people often go somewhere else for the holiday.
But I am filled with anticipation for the joy of preaching tonight. I'm utterly delighted with the words that have been crafted and will be ready to share. I cannot wait to light the candles, to offer an invitation to the table, to gather in the midst of a beautiful sanctuary with people who have come to receive the bread that has been prepared for them. My heart is beating faster as I think about the harp music that will play from the balcony, and images of children coming forward to learn the stories of Jesus, the bread that will be broken, the carols that will be sung.
I cannot imagine driving around a city in the state where I went to college in order to preach eight different times. That's not the box I've been called to stand on. So why would I even be thinking about that box?
What about you? How much time are you spending looking at someone else getting on their box instead of seizing the life you've been given?
Come to think of it, I'm utterly delighted I got this body on top of those 20 inches in the first place.