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.