A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day about his elementary-aged son who had run a 400-meter dash. The little runner had come home with an eight-place ribbon, and he was thrilled.
It wasn’t finishing first that mattered to that boy, it was finishing well.
Immediately, my memory snapped back to elementary and junior high track meets in the 1970s and ’80s. They called them “field days” back then; maybe they still do. Over those years, I collected a collage of ribbons in green, pink, or yellow — rewards for my back-of-the-pack finishes. Often, I was the very last runner to cross the finish line.
But I always finished. And I always did my best.
Dad advised me not to fret about a top finish. He said to try to improve my “personal best.”
He encouraged me to run my race, not someone else’s.
His words reminded me that I need not fret about the people in the other lanes, or the fans in the bleachers.
That was a good way to run a race, and it’s a great way to live a life.
Your race is your race. Your lane is your lane. Stay in it. Press on toward the finish. Don’t let that line get fogged by the cloud of comparison, otherwise it will be hard to see where you’re headed.
Our joy in life begins at the place where our comparison drops off. It’s the place where we are content living the life we’ve been given — where we no longer have to inspect ourselves, wondering whom we are better or worse than.
Comparison is a crowbar in relationships, and it is wielded by pride, and it splits us up into camps of who’s who and who’s not.
Look how the fullest life bubbles up when we drop the tools of comparison. Look how love wins when envy doesn’t have a voice, and when jealousy is muzzled. We begin to see one another as God sees us — beautifully made, though imperfect people, who are all just trying to get to the finish line. Even when we look graceful, we’re really just stumbling along, trying to put one foot in front of the other, best as we can.
We’re all made of the same stuff, you know, just packaged differently for reasons God determined quite some time ago. Live those reasons. Be all you.
Live creatively, by living your “personal best.”
Run in your lane, at your pace.
Clear the bleachers. Run for One.
Embrace eighth place. And cheer on the blue-ribbon winners.
Acquire virtue more than trophies.
Choose encouragement, over envy.
Run barefoot; walk when you must.
And don’t be afraid to stop moving altogether, to drop to your knees, wide-eyed in wonder, so you don’t miss this gift you’ve been given. It’s called life.
And if you do leave your lane, let it be to help someone beside you.
See the best in others, and recognize the best in you.
Run for the things that matter to Jesus, because those are the things that matter forever.
After all, that’s what matters most.