There’s been a lot written and taught on lately about the Comparison Trap. You know, the temptation to compare ourselves to other people in all kinds of departments: looks, body, profession, talent, parenting, marriage, and the list goes on (and on and on). But the thing is, whether in our estimation we come out on top or come up short, there is no winning in comparison. It’s a trap.
I have fallen victim to this trap more times than I care to count. Like when I’ve felt bad about myself after looking through a magazine and comparing my body to someone 20 years younger whose never had kids. It’s just dumb. I know this and I try to not let my mind go there – and I’m working on it – which brings me to this:
Last fall I submitted my inspirational/faith-based screenplay to an annual screenwriting contest that awards the winner for ‘The Most Spiritually Uplifting Screenplay by First-Time and Beginning Screenwriters.’ The winner flies to Los Angeles and is awarded the prize at a ‘who’s who’ in the faith-based film, television and music industry awards show.
When the press release came out that announced the winner, I could not believe my eyes! It said she was a former TV news producer who is the mom of two young kids.
That could be my bio, but it wasn’t my name listed as the winner. I felt the green-eyed monster rise up – a ball of jealousy, disappointment and not being good enough begin to take shape. After all, the comparisons between us were uncanny, yet she won and not me. Not me…
But I caught myself and stopped myself, and read further down the release. It included a snippet of what she said her in her acceptance speech at the awards:
“I am here tonight because when I came to my husband a few short weeks before the deadline on this, and then I said, ‘I feel I’m supposed to write this,’ all he said to me was, ‘Tell me what you need.’ He double downed on daddy duty so I could really focus on writing… To all the other moms out there understanding what it’s like to be loving your babies and wondering what’s ever going to become of that tiny creative little dream in your heart, be encouraged.”
Wow. I thought it such a thoughtful and humble speech, and I loved the message to other moms at the end. But the thing that struck out to me the most was that she felt she was ‘supposed’ to write it – compelled even – to write the script just a few short weeks before the deadline.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that, so after a bit of cyber-stalking I sent her a message on LinkedIn to congratulate her on winning. She wrote me back and thanked me for the message, and then went on to tell me a bit more about the events surrounding her entering and winning, which totally blew me away and encouraged my faith, and is the catalyst for this blog post.
She said she decided to write the script two weeks before the deadline. She has two small children at home and a close family member suffered a medical emergency shortly after she started writing it. She kept on even though the circumstances weren’t ideal. But when it became clear she wasn’t going to finish in time, she stopped writing a few days before the deadline and felt really disappointed. BUT THEN, the competition announced a one-week extension for submissions – she said she cried and promised God that she would finish it.
She said she wrote the script in total in about 3 ½ weeks, and no one else had looked at it or edited it before she submitted it. She said that when she read it again on the plane to L.A. for the awards ceremony she was embarrassed by all the typos!
God’s timing is funny, isn’t it? Most things feel like they take forever to happen. Yet this woman felt so strongly to start something on such a short deadline. A few weeks to write a feature-length, original screenplay while being a mom to young kids – submitting it without a second set of eyes and a second to spare – with typos and all – AND IT WINS! That’s like…impossible! Good thing we serve a God who specializes in impossibilities.
I never thought I’d say this a few months ago, but I am SO HAPPY I DIDN’T WIN. Being genuinely happy for this woman and being so encouraged by her story has increased my faith and given me the inspiration to begin my third script – a children’s fantasy – something I didn’t think I had in me to write.
The truth is, it was her time to win this prize – it was her story to tell and her time shine. I don’t have to compare myself with her, I can be the screenwriter God called me to be and write the stories He put on my heart.
My time is coming and so is yours, but it will happen in HIS time. Sometimes it seems fast, and most times it seems slow, but it is always right on time.
In the meantime – don’t give up! Keep moving forward – don’t let your dream die, because as Jesus said to us in Matthew 19:26:
“With God all things are possible.”