The race we run takes focus. It takes intentionality in every direction and endurance to follow through.
I was challenged on the trail today. I thought about my comforts and how they stand in the way of my race. I thought about endurance and how that relates to faith. I imagined people cheering me on, and imagined myself cheering on others- the runners, the bikers, and the walkers.
Running your race with integrity means being intentional in thought and action- it means fruit can be produced from a seed watered in Truth. It means not taking comfort in the way you think you stack up to the competition.
Those “competitors”- they’re your family. They are your responsibility.
Lets start there.
It is your responsibility to make sure people around you finish their race encouraged and uplifted. You can’t prevent their physical injuries, but you can play a part their spiritual growth. There will be enough critics on the race. There is no gain in becoming one of them.
I have found that my choice to criticize comes from insecurity. In moments of weakness, I look around and only see competition…which leads to comparison. For some this is in specific things: is my fashion sense better, is my job better, why am I not good at that, I wish I was smarter … for me it's a about wanting to fit into everybody’s seasons of life. It’s back to that approval idol (insert eye-roll because I’m annoyed with my sin). I long for seasons I have passed, and seasons ahead of me- this makes my commitment to being present impossible.
We have all heard it in others and in ourselves- the longing to have a house, the longing to be married, the longing to have kids, the longing to be in college, to be romanced, to be busy, to have a slow life … then it becomes the criticism of people who are married, the criticism of people who have kids or don’t, criticizing people in college (those dreamers!), cynicism towards romance, criticism of busy people, criticism of people with the luxury of a slow life- GOODNESS. Aren't we tired of wanting a leg up? Aren’t we tired of justifying our own sin? Aren’t we tired of comparison turning our hurdles into ivy-covered walls?
…Do we really think that by hindering someone else’s race, we are advancing the Kingdom of God? Here’s a hint- we already know who wins the race, so what honorable intentions could we possibly have in discouraging words?
Speak life into the people around you who are in different seasons. Some seasons feel better than others, but they are all important in getting us to who we are meant to be. Do you know someone in a season of life they wouldn’t want to repeat? – don’t contribute to their wishing it away. Let endurance be produced there for you both- hobble with them, hold their hand, and don’t let them miss the miracles in the broken.
A body of confident believers cheering each other on begins with you turning inward. Identify and face the things weighing you down in your race. Take the time to know yourself well. Reflect. You are uniquely designed- complex, and full of gifts. When we don’t take the time to know ourselves and build confidence in who we were made to be, we breed insecurity… and when we are insecure, we want others to be insecure with us. Confidence from the right place is an unshakable foundation and as a product of knowing your identity, the criticism won't debilitate you -including your criticism of yourself.
Accept the season you’re in and make the most of it -if it's slow enjoy the view, look around, examine your heart, and CELEBRATE THOSE WHO ARE SPRINTING- good for them!
Cultivate your relationship with God.
Find your people, find your rhythms, put your pride down, and be at peace.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Happy stories, sad stories, dramatic, sorrowful, and joyous stories- every story is a love story... and here are some of mine.