By Jessica Canon, Riverbend wRiters
14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
15And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. – Colossians 3:14-15A
I started this life in second place it seems. Second child, and eventually the middle child. As I grew into adolescent years, I learned the term middle-child syndrome and what it means to be second or sometimes invisible. My older sister had seniority with both privileges and responsibilities to look out for us younger siblings. Meanwhile, my younger sister seemed to get away with everything including not having any chores or obligations in the house since she was usually rushed off to dance practice or performances. This dynamic would breed far more jealousy than harmony. Each little individual fighting for attention and recognition, but rarely living as a team or family unit.
Trying to be first in as many achievements possible was a driving force among my sisters and I. Aside from wanting to make Mom and Dad proud, having such a fierce competitive nature on the court or out in the field created somewhat of a struggle to learn to accept anything less than first place, straight A’s or high achievement awards.
Accepting anything less did not have the euphoric feeling of victory. It certainly was not the same hearing “better luck next time” or “well, you gave it your best.” There was no victory dance to rub in the others faces. Being the middle child, which was supposedly the ‘problem solver’, presented me with a struggle to accept defeat. When you play to win instead of playing to have fun you eventually lose sight of why you’re even playing at all.
This competitive nature would push me to excel in college and build a career. I continued trying to ‘play to win’, only this time the rules were different. Learning to play in the corporate world sometimes meant accepting your role was much smaller in the big picture – still on a team with different levels of importance. If you were not on the revenue generating team then you were considered support, second regardless of your skills. The desire to win each day slowly goes away. The excitement of the game slowly became acceptance of a mundane daily routine.
Once again, the game changes when life presents a different game to play: Marriage. I was first again, so it would seem. I brought challenges and excitement to another that rewarded me with smiles, appreciation, and love. After bringing children into the marriage we both quickly fell to second place. The marriage would often be set aside in order to meet their needs or struggle – to keep up with their demanding schedules. The excitement of what should be beautiful and meaningful slowly goes away. Somehow this, too, became a mundane relationship and daily routine.
I finally stopped to ask God what my purpose in life is. Why am I here? His answer would remind me that it was time to quiet my ego. Living first or solely for myself would not help me accomplish the purpose in which He created me for. As He continued to guide me through these struggles, life slowly became something totally unexpected. By accepting His will, not my own, I found myself in a new role of caregiver. Again, I was having to learn to live second to someone else’s needs. This time there was more of an understanding because my purpose in life was second long before He ever breathed life into me. My purpose is interwoven into the purpose of others. None of us are living to be in first place. We are living as members of one body continually learning how to move and exist in unity.