You’ve seen them. Those cool kids in high school who squeal out of the parking lot. Making their mark on the pavement. Seems they need to prove something, like “I’m better than you.” Comparing reveals a deficit, something lacking in the heart. We need to get to the point where we make a clean break from that folly.

I climbed in the car of a “cool kid” one night. Joey drove 90 mph down a country road just as it began to rain. I warned him about the sharp turn ahead, “You’re not gonna make it.” Reaching to buckle my seatbelts, we flew off the road straight into a utility pole. I awoke under the dashboard with my foot in my ear. The car hissed and Joey was shouting, “Get out of the car! It’s gonna blow up!”

I couldn’t move. Joey grabbed my arms and pulled me out. My leg swung around like a piece of meat tied to me. It was broken in several pieces at the femur. The car did not explode; it was the radio hissing. I didn’t see the blood or the totaled car and broken utility pole. I just felt the searing pain and raindrops on my face. Oddly, I said, “Ouch!”, when Joey dropped me on a thorny bush.

Laying there waiting in the rain, on the ambulance ride, and on a gurney in the ER waiting for the x-rays and the operating room seemed like an eternity. In shock I shivered cold with the loss of blood. After placing the pieces of bone together like a puzzle and stitching me up, the surgeon drilled a metal post through my lower leg. Weights were tied on a pulley to hold my leg in place in a hospital bed where I would remain for six weeks.

This pain and this lonely waiting to heal gave me time to think. I was so fortunate. The broken leg and permanent shortening of my leg is a constant reminder of my folly following the wrong example. I thought about the cool kids, especially my friend Joey.

Before I was back on my feet, Joey had another car accident. He had been drinking at a late night poker game. In the early morning hours Joey fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into a tree. This time Joey was hurt and nobody was there to help. He survived. But when I saw him last, he was still in a wheelchair. He seemed to acknowledge me with his eyes, but he could not speak and he could not move. I was told his injuries were permanent.

It can be anyone, not just the cool kids. When we compare ourselves, we are following the wrong leader. When you’re measuring yourself against the way others appear, you’ve taken your eyes off the road. I pray you experience a break from that folly, without the broken leg.

“We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.”

2 Corinthians 10:12 MSG