Let's Not Compare Sandcastles

This past weekend I got the opportunity to travel to Ogallala, Nebraska to attend the wedding of a longtime friend and her new husband. My wife and I went with two of the best people we know.

“But let each one test his work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” — Galatians 6:4

I have been in Nebraska before but never this part of the state. On the trip, we took a long, perfectly straight road from the east. I have never been on a highway that straight for that distance.

Comparing Can Start Quickly

Once we got to Ogallala, we noticed that for a town of just a few thousand people it was geographically vast. It looked like a much bigger city. It certainly felt more prominent than our city, and we have over 20,000 people. We decided to visit the lake where the wedding was to be held. It was not hard to find. It’s 26 miles long, and at some points, it is over 4 miles wide. It was beautiful. I found myself wondering, why don’t we live here? I was comparing.

When we were coming home, we took a different route heading south into Kansas. We have considerable fields in Kansas that are primarily flat. What we saw this past weekend was rolling hills covered by corn and trees, lots of trees. We had some free time Saturday and stumbled onto a sandcastle building contest. We saw teams with dozens of people with elaborate plans. One team built a scene from Top Gun that was amazing. A lot of work and planning went into many of the entrants. We walked along the beach just 15 minutes into the contest and then re-visited after the 4-hour deadline to see the finished creations.

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While I am not sure, who won, I know who I would have voted to win. On the far end of the beach, in the last marked off area worked a single young girl who may have been ten years old. Working alone, she was undaunted by the massive effort going on around her. Her parents were near, but she worked alone. I could have watched her all day.

Let’s Not Compare, Just Work Hard

At the end of the time, most of the people, and there were hundreds of them, sat down to rest and get something to drink. Most of them had shade canopies to help them cool off. She was still working on perfecting her little slice of the world. What did she care about some deadline? With no shade, she was tan and covered in sand from head to toe. Her creation was bedazzled with seashells and did not resemble any scene other than the one in her head. Although it was nowhere near the size of her fellow artists, she easily beat them with a pure heart.

I got to thinking today that my little castle may look different than I would have thought when I started, but it is so much more beautiful than I could have imagined. I think I get caught too often comparing where I am to where I think I could be. I sometimes compare my creation to others around me. That little girl never once looked up while I was there. She wasn’t comparing herself to anyone. I could learn a lot from her.

Author: Rick Claiborn

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