He’s bigger; he’s faster; he’s stronger; he’s older; and he’s a better runner. She’s smaller; she’s slower; she’s weaker; she’s younger; and she’s not a better runner. And this past weekend, it brought some conflict on the trail.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, the clouds were puffy-white, the swallows were flying over-head, the humidity was low; and the trail was covered with the freshness of green everywhere we looked.
And to top it all off, our littles were running ahead, blazing the trail and searching for dragons to slay. Side by side, they were giggling, talking, and stopping along the way to kill a bug or two. Truly, it was a slice of “sibling heaven”—the kind of moments best captured with the lens of your heart.
Things were good. REAL GOOD. For about 30’ish minutes. And then they weren’t.
Absolving into a pile of angry tears and frustrated screams, our littlest lost her trail-running steam.
“That’s not fair!”
“He’s running so fast over me!”
“I can’t win!”
“I can’t do it!”
Holding her little body in my arms, she cried and cried. And in between the little sobs and the big sobs, she managed to eek out the following:
“He’s faster than me.”
And ya know what?
She was right.
I wasn’t going to insult her intelligence or deny her reality. He was, and he is…a faster runner.
So I told her another truth.
“Sweet girl, you may not be as fast as your brother, but you’re still a fabulous runner.”
And then I gave her another word of encouragement.
“Don’t let his run steal yours.”
I’d like to say she got back on the trail after that good word, gave it her all, and ran some more trail at her very own speed, but I can’t say that.
Because she didn’t.
It made my mama-heart sad.
If you ask me, the “compare game” is a rather rotten game. It takes you nowhere; it leaves you disappointed; and along the way, you pick up a whole lot of junkie-junk which only hinders the “race” you are called to run.
It doesn’t help; it hinders. It doesn’t encourage; it discourages. It doesn’t build up; it tears down. It doesn’t add; it detracts. It doesn’t bring focus; it distracts. It doesn’t grow; it kills. It truly is a terrible, no-good, very bad game.
But we all take our whirl; we all take a spin; and we all roll its dice. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US.
Because while we’re trying to run our race and “do us,” we also find ourselves looking over at that other runner(s).
that runner with the good-looking spouse and the happy, two kids;
that runner with the big house and the nice car;
that runner with the long legs and the small BMI;
that runner with the professional license and the extra credentials;
that runner with the flashy friends and the fancy clothes;
that runner with the extra vacation time and the extra spending money;
that runner with the baby in her womb;
that runner with the new job;
that runner with the out-going personality and the charming wit;
that runner with the healthy immune system and the clear scans;
that runner with the better grades;
that runner with the successful, well-adjusted, law-abiding children;
that runner with the empty-nest and the carefree days;
that runner with the intelligent mind and the organized ways;
that runner with the Pinterest-worthy apartment;
that runner with the debt-free life and the college education;
that runner with the intentional husband and the supportive parents;
that runner with the thriving ministry;
that runner with the stay-at-home job;
that runner with the prestigious position and the important role;
that runner with…;
that runner with…; and
that runner with…
And before you know it, you’re letting someone else steal your run.
Because you’re so darn worried about running a race that isn’t yours.
Been there; done that; my daughter is not alone.
But friends, I can’t even imagine how much fuller, freer, and life-giving our lives would be if we could simply embrace the words of Hebrews 12:1-2.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Did you see it?
THE RACE MARKED OUT FOR US.
Your race isn’t mine and mine isn’t yours. You aren’t me and I’m not you. We run a race that has been marked out for us.
And how do we do it?
- By throwing off the things that hinder us from running, which would most definitely include the rotten game of comparison.
- By running with perseverance, which would mean not giving up when others “win”, or “pull ahead,” or “leave you behind,” or run “a different direction,” or run in a “different way.”
- And by fixing our eyes on Jesus, which would mean finding our hope, our identity, and our joy in running toward Him, our ultimate goal and our forever finish line.
Oh, Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you, running the race you have marked out for me. Help me to not let other “runners” steal my run and God, give me the grace to know you and the courage to do me.