June 13, 2011

Your Race is Much Longer Than That

The first time he said it, my heart sank a little. Ok… a lot.

I felt my cheeks flush and just like that my defenses were up. My stomach knit-knotted itself into an impressive array of basketweave stitching, as I faced this decreed declaration of my destiny.

You can’t worry about all the big things someone else is doing or how fast they’re getting there. You just have to run your own race for what you were called to do.

Now, let me translate that for you as it was heard through Mary ears: take your eyes off that prize, girl. You were meant for something much smaller than that.

I bristled. I barbed. And yes, I even boiled over. And my heart sank just a little bit more.

Truth be told it took several more conversations just like that, with Justin reminding me to just “run my own race,” before I could fully figure out how to explain to him what I heard every time he said it. Why don’t you just tell me I’m not cut out for big things like everyone else? That there’s a limit to how far I can expect to go.I get it.

And in true Justin form, he just shook his head and sighed. Is that what you heard? Did you ever think that what I was telling you is that you were meant to go farther than that? That your race is just much longer than all the ones you’ve been focusing on?

Enter stage right: light bulb moment.

Huh. So what if “running your own race” was not some concession that you’re not meant for bigger things, but just a realization that while other people might be on the fast track running sprints, what you are gearing up for is a cross country marathon. And that that might be the best news you ever heard.

Because see, here’s the thing about sprints. Those runners get to the finish line much faster and it’s impressive how quickly they can run, but when you really look at it… they haven’t gone very far. Two hundred meters. Eight hundred meters. Or worse yet, maybe they’ve just lapped the track and they are right back where they started. Sure they did it fast, but have they actually gone anywhere?

I have to think that part of the reason why they started dividing up the sprinters and the cross-country teams, was so that the cross-country runners could keep their heads in the race they were about to run. To stay the course. To bear the endurance of a path like that. To not be distracted by the quick-time winners of races they never entered.

So the next time you find yourself feeling like everyone else is getting to the finish line before you, just take a step back and ask yourself if you’re even running the same course. Because maybe they’re just running in circles while you’re moving this life forward.

And maybe, just maybe, your race is much longer than that.

  1. Stephanie Stewart

    Thank you so much for this post! I can totally relate. Totally. It’s just what I needed today. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and to feel a bit lost, or behind, or out of the loop. Thank you for the encouragement! You guys rock! ♥

  2. Juanita Johnson

    I visit your blog often and it’s contents regularly make my heart smile a wide full toothed grin. Today’s post however, helped me exhale and gather strength. Thank you for your way with words and your way with life. You inspire me.

  3. Chelsea McGowan

    Similarly, Mack has to remind me that it’s ok to be a sprinter, too. I don’t think that’s our lot in life, but when I get frustrated with OTHERS, Mack has to remind me not to worry about their race… they might not be going where we’re going. The world needs BOTH sprinters and distance runners, and whatever camp we fall in, we should be encouraging to the others.

  4. Jess

    wonderful post. thank you for sharing your perspective. it’s an important message

  5. Kristen

    What a great post for a monday morning! I completely understand where you are coming from. We all have to remember to take those deep breaths and try to examine things from more than our own perspectives.

  6. Jessica

    Great post! Thanks for the words that are so reassuring!

  7. Lydia

    Great advice! Just what I needed to hear this Monday morning!

  8. Jessica

    I needed exactly this morning! You have such a gift with writing and using that to encourage people!

  9. michelle

    I can always count on you to bring me back down to reality… just when things start to really make me crazy.

  10. katie

    i love your posts, thank you j&m <3

  11. Elizabeth & Ryan | Elizabeth Ryan Photography

    Thank you Mary!!! Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the amazingness that is the journey! Your words are beautiful… just like you! ;)

  12. Rupa

    Since I started running my own race, for REAL, I am no longer going in circles nor do I even look around me anymore to see if we are in the same ‘race’…mine is mine only now and with that new mindset, what a HUGE difference I have seen in my photography & attitude towards going for more & better! Thanks for reminding me and for the first time, in a long time, making me realize that I am doing alright!! : ) xo

  13. Karen Stott

    Wow Mary. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. This is so what I needed to hear after this week. Hugs to you.

  14. ashley barnett

    Can I just come hang out with you two and talk about all this good stuff? I must have bored Jeremy to tears by now asking him over and over how I am going to do this?! Where am I going?! Why am I not shooting 45 weddings?! Thank you. I am tempted to print this out and hang it on the fridge. Friendly reminder to keep the blinders on and focus on me. Besides, running on a treadmill or track is so BORING. I’ll take the scenic route any day :)

  15. Abbey

    Mary, you just seem to know the right words to strike a chord with everyone. These words have been soo true for me lately as I wonder how I’m going to get my business running and how I’m going to get more weddings. I spend way too much time focusing on why everyone else is doing soo much better and need to focus on my own race. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Truly!!

  16. Kasey Loftin Photography

    I follow your blog like it’s my job. And for this very reason – because it is so raw and relatable. Thank you for your inspiring words. I needed to hear this. You rock!

  17. Kellee

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you!

  18. Tay Yilmaz

    Absolutely amazing post – thank you.

  19. josh


  20. Nancy Mitchell

    Thanks so much for posting this. This is so needed right now! I wnat you to know that I appreciate all that you do! You know that I LOVE you guys. My husband tells me the same thing all the time! Thanks for all the encouragement! xoxo~nance

  21. Greg

    This post was spot on.

  22. mariana herrera mosli

    I can not tell you in this comment HOW MUCH I NEEDED TO READ THESE WORDS. Thank you.


  23. Laura Gordon

    Ah! Love this, I always seem to be so worried about what’s going on around me… I need to stay focused on me- and what I’m doing! Thank you for the great reminder :)

  24. Lesley

    This was just perfect, cause we’re starting to figure out what our path is, and we want to make sure we’re prepared for the length and able to endure all the trails and joy of it. Thank you for posting this! :)

  25. Brooke Summer Photography

    I’m not a runner (I always say I only run if someone is chasing me!) but for some reason your analogies always hit home for me. Love this!

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