Posted on October 13, 2012
One of the many things I love about running is I am my competition. PR – “personal record” – has a nice ring to it – no matter how I place, it’s a “win” if I PR. Sometimes, simply feeling strong at the finish is cause for celebration, despite what the clock says. This is primarily because I’m not talented enough to compete for a top place. I did win my age division in a marathon once … but, it was a relatively small race the same weekend as the Boston marathon, and all the fast runners were out of town. While I usually aim to simply beat myself, I can take a perfectly good race experience and diminish it by comparing myself to others in the field. There are typically many who finish behind me, but also many who finish before me, and I start to wonder why I’m not faster. I don’t think I’m the only one who has these thoughts, and I was struck by a radio discussion touching on this after the recent London Olympics. A commentator who had visited with many of the medalists shared that, in many instances, bronze medalists felt happier than silver medalists. Why? The silver medalists were comparing themselves to the gold medalists, and the bronze medalists were comparing themselves to all the others who didn’t even make it on the podium.
… But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12
One of my all-time favorite pastors – a runner, incidentally – once stated in his homily that we should not compare ourselves to anyone but Jesus. I compare myself to others all the time, and it’s a waste of time and a distraction. I either get very mistakenly puffed up or erroneously downtrodden when I size myself up against my perception of another. God made us all different with unique experiences, circumstances, and Spiritual gifts, and it’s therefore unproductive to compare myself to others. Don’t get me wrong – I’m surrounded by people who inspire and encourage me daily, and my decisions and behavior are influenced by them. Many historical and present day heroes exemplify lives well-lived, and I have much to learn from them. In the end, however, it won’t matter how I compare to others, but it will matter how I size up to what God’s asked of me. He’s provided rules to live by, the Holy Spirit as a counsel and guide, and Jesus as a human standard by which I may measure myself. I’m not capable of getting it all right on my own, but that’s no reason to stop aiming to be more Christ-like. Likewise, I’ll never be a star runner, but I intend to strive for improvement until God decides my running shoes have logged their last mile.
Dear God, please help me want to measure myself with Your standard and avoid comparing myself to anyone other than You.