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Collaboration over Competiton

"Why are you in so much competition with me?" (John Witherspoon's voice). Name that movie. But really, as a follower of Christ, the holy spirit teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not to compete with them. But American culture has taken this idea of competition way too far. Internalizing competition as an act of character is the first sign of mental imprisonment. Adolescents, young adults, and working middle-class parents are highly susceptible to its inherent risk. MHAEKs defines mental imprisonment as an institutionalized false sense of self. The 'school-to-mental-prison-pipeline' occurs when one's ingenuity is stripped away, replaced by standardized confinement, leaving her to conform to the normality of oppression as a child. Her strengths are taught as weaknesses and threats, and her intuition is no longer wealth within but up for everyone else's gain. Have you wondered why it took so long to recognize your gifts, values, strengths, or what makes you unique? If you graduated from a typical public school, have you ever wondered why you didn't follow that dream of becoming the next big thing? What happened to you, believing in yourself without the validation from others? What happened to your playful energy that once enjoyed collaborating with others?

The spirit of competition is a sin that destroys individuals' worth, steals youth's confidence, and kills families of God. An unhealthy idea of competition is also the first barrier to knowing Christ within oneself that must be broken into practical stepping stones, which can create a firm foundation on the path to righteousness. Its symptoms of expression range from addiction, homelessness, and unwellness, such as jealousy, envy, obsession, depression, indecisiveness, anxiety, etc., social isolation, racism, family violence, invasion of privacy, unproductive living, and more (whether the cause or effect).

This truth became apparent to me one day while riding on the city bus to Santa Monica College, CA. A female stranger left her seat to ring the line bell for the next available stop, the same as mine. She looked at me with a bold stare and said sincerely, "Remember to believe in yourself today. Your only competition is you." I said, 'Thank you very much, I appreciate that.' The level of isolation, waving in a circular motion above my neckline, seemed to drain a bit without a splash when I bent down to grab my rollerblades and art box. That feeling of being seen, yet by all the wrong people who were earning a living to nag at and cipher energy from immature believers, was gang-stalking me all semester. Did she read my mind or my body language correctly? Were my mixed emotions of fearlessness and vulnerability forming sweat beads of butterfly sleeves on my arms, or was my heart exposed from my chest after blading that 10-mile run from the Jungles to Olympic Boulevard that morning? Thinking we would continue a conversation off the bus and onto campus, I looked up, and she was gone. She was gone, but something in me had arrived. The great I AM had arrived. The veils left my eyes, and I could see my natural sense of self, where the inside was secure and the outside beautifully scarred.

What changed? My mood. My intention. Notions about myself. I've decided never to switch the folds again.

If you enjoyed this read, join me next time when I share what MHAEK calls the "Order of Operations to Solve the School-to-Mental-Prison-Pipeline Problem.'

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