Run Your Race
I prefer to workout alone. It was never my cup -of- tea to have unnecessary spectators to my self-improvement. When I work out, it isn’t pretty. I may put on the cute workout gear, but I will sweat, grunt, and perhaps fuss the entire time. It didn’t matter if I was the most fit in my life or a rolly polly; I needed no commentary to push myself. Whenever I would do a workout I didn’t like, I would put on my music and try harder. If I needed a pep talk, I would talk to God, and myself saying, “come on, we can do this.” I mostly needed to do that in the running.
Running was the single most detestable exercise I have ever had the privilege to partake in, even before my knee surgeries. I remember when I ran with my taekwondo team, and they would all bullet ahead. I preferred to keep my own stable pace. They would stop and go, taunting the faster they went. “Keep up.” they said, ” You will never be a champion like that,” and my least favorite, “You are so slow”. All the pushing affirmations I would receive from others made me feel worse about what I was doing. So I would resign and say, “go ahead.” The fun part of those pushing taunts was that they were either untrue or unhelpful for my journey. As I kept my own pace, my cardio was stable. I would out move competitors in every fight, moving like a flyweight as a heavyweight champion. Every year I would bring back home gold medals while my teammates would either come home defeated or barely place at all. I was consistent but in my way. I only would lose if I tried to be someone else.
In our daily life, we face a similar struggle. We scroll and compare on social media, trying to keep up with our friends and family’s perfected versions. We feel that if we haven’t accomplished what they did at that time, we are next-to worthless in our own lives. Even worse, we allow our past failures to hinder our future hopes as we rehearse all the reasons we are still unworthy of success. Today, we will discuss our inner taunts and external comparisons, seeing how God addresses and dispels them in scripture.
What if I make a fool of myself and people hate me?
This inner taunt has kept dreamers from displaying world-changing ideas publicly. Everyone, to a certain degree, craves recognition of their value from their peers. When we are small, we look to our parents for validation of what is right and wrong. When we are teenagers, we look for acknowledgment from our friends. As adults, we find ourselves enthralled by the thought of ‘making it’ by societal standards. What if I told you that the real key to success is not impressing others, but by being in right standing with God? Not everyone will be your fan, and more often than not, you will be misunderstood by those closest to you. The only way you can be sure that you are not a fool is to find yourself on the right side of God.
A great litmus test for your feelings is to ask what Jesus would do. What did God say about this? Would Jesus be proud of my actions? Doing the righteous thing will give you peace in whatever you do, but expecting a life without contention is unrealistic. Jesus said it best when describing leading a faith-filled life, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18-20 NKJV. No matter what you stand for, be it for righteousness or the beat of your drum, there will be natural opposition to it. Those who can recognize your value in Christ will no doubt appreciate you. The others who may boo you on the stage of life are just background noise. Press forward, and be who God says you are.
I should be doing better by now.
This statement has robbed the joy of so many people. When you are in the middle of a “rut” or haven’t achieved that perfect vision for your life, it can make you feel like an abject failure. Looking at the calendar, we think that our timing is far better than what God determined. We tell ourselves, “This can’t be it!” and discount the value of being in the season we find ourselves within. God addresses this concern in Ecclesiastes when He describes seasons of life. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV. The fact is, when you live long enough, you are bound to experience ups and downs. The one thing that is certain in life is the inevitability of change. Everyone grows in their way and at their rate. If you are in a rough spot in life, take joy in knowing that troubles and pain cannot last forever. Great things take time and the patience to get there only comes from God.
______ is far better at this than I am. I am not qualified enough to do this.
Imagine that you are at the start of a race track. You pull ahead and turn the corner, always looking behind your shoulders to see who will beat you. You finish the competition winded and with mixed emotions. You did it, but something feels off. The race conductor frowns and tells you, “You did great, but your marathon starts in 30mins; this race was for the sprinters”. We tend to draw our life map by others’ accomplishments and hopes while expecting a great result in our lives. What is expected of one person is not necessarily the expectation God has for you. Another person may be very talented, but this does not negate your prowess in your life. The fear that someone will judge your actions can stagnate your ability to act presently.
Jesus outlines this in a parable describing servants who were each given talents from the king. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.” Matthew 25:20-28 NKJV
The fear of the lazy servant prevented not only his success but the kings’. Your insecurity chokes off your ability to endure and deletes the bright future waiting on the other side. The problem with comparison is that it turns active participants into vapid spectators. Wasting your time looking at someone else’s work or progress stifles your own. The worst part is, the person you are watching has entirely different skills and circumstances than you do. Each servant had different amounts of money to work with for their ability to handle the task. The only wrong answer is not actively working with what you have. You can’t look at your apple tree and expect it to grow as fast as a friend’s strawberries. The goal is to bear fruit in the end.
My dear friends, it does not matter whether you are big and strong, intelligent and meek, or some fashionista in the street. God gave you the equipment that you needed for your life’s journey and fight. God’s standard is the only one to judge us, and He loves you more than anyone else. Trying to live by comparison is too much and unnecessary. Just do your best at being who you are in Christ, and you will always be outstanding.