“He’s called us to a race we can win.”
I heard this statement in a Zoom staff meeting the other week, and it’s been ringing in my ears for days.
I don’t know if it’s one of those powerful truths or just the novelty of that phrase that it’s worth lingering on. Oh, I’ve heard, “He’s called us to finish the race,” and that we should “Run the race well,” which all imply that it’s a race I’m in, and a race my effort affects. But to hear that the Designer of the race intends for me to win? That He’s not just cheering for me to win, but designed the track custom to me and my abilities? Well, that changes my perspective a bit.
Bone + Marrow Market was designed as a place where we could see, know, and celebrate people well, but it’s hard to do that when I’m comparing my race to yours. Like when your race looks easier, or your scenery looks more appealing, or your race has more Gatorade stations.
Comparison and authentic celebration cannot coexist.
Sorrow and joy can co-exist. Suffering and peace and co-exist. But comparison? The only partners it aligns with is envy, strife, and discouragement–none of which are a part of the abundant life Jesus promised.
My brothers and I had a Christmas tradition of forgoing our rooms to have a sleepover on Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to be alone while I waited for our parents to reveal Christmas morning, so I vacated my own room for theirs, which is really one of my favorite childhood memories. This particular Christmas was in Montana. I can remember the anticipation of seeing all that Santa had left us.
A quick peek down the hall, and I saw a TV, which was EPIC! Turns out, it was in my brother’s pile. Along with a motorbike and a gaming system. His pile was awesome!!! My own? Well, funny thing is, I have no memory of what I received that Christmas. I was so busy envying his stash, I cannot remember all the goodies I am confident my parents got me…confident they worked hard for and were excited to give me. But, my memory is hazy with how less-than epic I felt like my own pile was in comparison.
Comparison is a thief we hand the keys to and wonder why we feel robbed.
“He’s called us to a race we can win.”
The speaker went on to share how there is no one better than you at this place and time. While there will always be someone who is better than you at a task or role, there is no one better than you for THE TASK and THE ROLE you were called to. He went on to say, “there will be better husbands and better dads, but there isn’t a better husband or dad for my wife and kids than me. I am the best option for them.”
If this is true, then why do we struggle with comparison at all? We know we are all unique as evidenced by the biology of fingerprints and DNA, and the psychology of personalities and imaginations, so is a stretch to believe we are all on a unique journey too? I think most of us would agree…at least in theory.
The theory is only a theory until we put it into everyday practice. Which is tough when someone gets the blessing you’ve been praying for. Or when someone gets to celebrate the marriage, pregnancy, or job promotion you’ve been longing for. Yeah, it’s hard to celebrate when my comparison has led me into the arms of envy. Too much envy, and I am no longer thankful. Too much of my eyes on your Christmas presents, and I can’t remember my own.
I was 37 when I got married, and for years I wondered why I had to wait while others didn’t. Did I do something wrong? Was I not “marriage material?” It didn’t help that every reference to my single status was “why aren’t you married?” as if there was a problem I refused to solve. Many times I collapsed under failing to achieve the invisible milestones of adulthood. You’re “supposed to get married” according to the cultural rule book that I’ve never actually seen, but feel the weight of. Now, having been married for 8 months, I know exactly why I had to wait–because this marriage and our journey required some things I had to acquire in singleness.
The Lord has not called me to win your race, He’s called me to my own. Your race might be in the mountains of Colorado, while mine might be in the tundra of Iceland–both might have snow, but it would be a fatal mistake to believe they are the same. There are days you might have wildflowers followed by lightning storms, and days where I might be in a thermal lagoon, but with hurricane winds.
We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. We cannot do that well if our own insecurity speaks louder to us than the Father who not only cheers us on, but runs the race alongside us. Let’s instead be confident that while we are running races on very different terrains, if the Lord is for us, then who can be against us? And if the Lord is for us, and with us, then we have everything we need to win our own personal race.
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