Patrick and I like watching competition shows like American Ninja Warrior, Top Chef, and Project Runway (OK, that one's more me than Patrick). Something you hear a lot on these shows is, "I want to show (the world, my kids, . . . ) that you can do anything if you just try hard enough." Guess what? That's just not true! And we need to admit it. Hard work gets us far down the road, but we can't all reach the same destination.
I'm a family doctor, but Patrick could probably not have made it through medical school. I have a very good memory and excellent pattern recognition skills. He, on the other hand, is really good and math and can problem solve like nobody's business, so he majored in engineering, not something I could have handled.
As much as someone might train, the chances of them becoming another Michael Phelps is very low. He worked hard to become a world class swimmer, but he also has a huge arm span and a lactic acid metabolism that makes him the best in the world. The people who go far on Top Chef have not only worked hard, but they have well-defined palates - they can taste the differences in foods very well.
This is all part of God's design. When Paul was talking about the church in 1 Corinthians 12, he talked about us all being parts of one body and having different functions. This goes for society as well. Society wouldn't function well at all if everyone was an intellectual and no one was good at working with their hands. We need each other and our differences. And we ought to celebrate those differences.
This is one reason that Patrick feels so strongly that our high schools need to quit pushing college for everyone and make tech school an attractive option. College is great for some students! It prepares students for a life of the mind. But, we need people who do technical work for a living. We need our plumbers, welders, and construction workers, and they learn those skills through tech schools and apprenticeships. We should celebrate those people for their skills. (Obligatory Mike Rowe link here!)
Besides, not everyone can be a high-flying balloon. Some people are going to be the best at things while others are not. Not everyone can be at the top of the mountain. That's OK. We can be happy for whoever wins American Ninja Warrior while enjoying our own fitness routines, however mundane they may be. It's OK to watch Top Chef and know that our own efforts in the kitchen wouldn't stand up to scrutiny by celebrity chef but be happy that our own family likes our creations. It's a sign of our own mental health that we can accept ourselves for who we are.
So, try hard things! Run that 5K! Put that knitting piece in the Fair (that's to me)! But, understand that if you aren't the best in the world, it's just fine. God still loves you just the way that he made you!
What are you working hard at, even if you won't be the best in the world?