I really wanted to snap a picture to give you a better feel for this entire scenario. But, because of what I am about to explain to you, that thought came to me about 2 minutes too late.
You may recall my post a couple months ago declaring I was defying my own vow to never run again. I had somehow roped a few friends into running a half-marathon. At the time, I wasn’t even running a half-mile. Temporary insanity I guess.
So, off we went. It became clear pretty quickly that I was in over my head. Two of the girls were about 25 years younger than me and the other one was just plain naturally designed to run, as it turns out.
One day, as we headed out on a leisurely 9 miler, we were all in a precious little line with our headphones in and our heads held high. About mile 3 or 4 the gap began. It spread further and further. By the time I thought it was comical and might make a good blog on comparison, using the picture of them outrunning me as an illustration, they had already turned the corner and I was unable to capture it.
My competitive nature kept me going. I would not quit. But I sincerely had to hold back tears of humiliation, shame, and disappointment. I silently sniffled and shuffled along. In my mind, I was comparing myself to them in every way possible and failing miserably short.
That’s when things got much, much worse.
My phone, which I was using to hear my interval prompt (telling me when to walk and when to run because this is how my 52 yr. old body has to do things apparently) and also music and podcasts to distract me from the fact that I was huffing and puffing, went in to some dark place that it has never gone before, ever.
It went black and just said, “I-phone unavailable at this time. Check back in 5 minutes.” In five minutes I checked back and it told me I should wait 15 minutes. I couldn’t turn it off, text, or call anyone, which was problematic since I was supposed to be following my running friends who were now a mile ahead of me, and I didn’t really know the route back to make it equal the 9 miles I was committed to run.
So here is how the rest of it played out.
Even though I had previously been beating myself up for being slow, out of shape and obviously not a “real runner” like the other girls, I had to shift my focus. I now had to invest my brain-energy and count 30-Mississippi while walking and 90-Mississippi while running (because God forbid I run one single second longer or not get the rest I deserved).
My mind was 100% consumed with counting and praying that I could survive the next 5 miles.
Guess what I did not think about? Anything else. There was simply no space left in my brain for negative or cruel self-talk.
And that’s when it hit me. My solution to the comparison trap:
When my primary focus is on God (how He loves and cherishes me and how He wants to use me to help you understand how He loves and cherishes you), there is little room leftover for comparing.
Instead of just “trying not to” compare, I can fill my mind and spirit with thoughts of grace and forgiveness and worship and gratitude.
We each have our own path, our own race to run. Whether someone is behind me or far (very. very far) ahead of me is none of my business. What matters is only what God has for me. I am exactly where I need to be.
I am enough for today. And so are you.