Monday, March 10, 2014

The Comparison Game

On Saturday I completed a 5K race.  I didn't run the whole thing but I didn't walk the whole thing either, even though I thought about it.  My husband and I signed up for the race less than a month ago because we wanted to help raise money for the family of Xander, a little boy who is battling his second run in with Ewing's Sarcoma and for the past year has been undergoing chemo and radiation treatments. (You can plug in with that family on their Facebook page Strength for Xander, or if you want to make a donation, I'm sure you can contact them or direct message the Xander Run page.)

Neither my husband or I had run even as far as the mailbox in at least 3 or 4 months, and since having a baby I had not run/walked more than maybe a mile. So we weren't expecting great numbers, we were just going to go out there dressed as superheroes (the theme of the race) and struggle through together.  However, about 2 weeks ago we found out that my husband needed to be somewhere else Saturday and suddenly I was going to be alone.  We had signed up one of our youth to run with us, but she actually runs and is on the track team, so the "together" part was a no go because I didn't want to hold her back.  Running by myself never bothered me before, because this wasn't my first ever 5K, but it bothered me this time, because I was playing the comparison game.

The comparison game is very dangerous.  First, I compared myself to me, well the me of 3 years ago who ran her first 5K in under 30 minutes and for a few months after that ran 5 miles (in under an hour) with no walking and ran/walked 7 miles.  But that me was unmarried, pre-babymaker, and over fifty pounds lighter.  Second, upon arriving at the event I recognized many people that I had gone to high school with.  It wasn't a big deal really, until the race started and all of them were ahead of me.  At this point I just wanted to stop trying to run at all and just walk, so when I finished with a slow time, I could say well I was just here to walk.

But I didn't.  I had prayed for God to give me the strength to run this race, to finish this race, and to do the best I could with his help.  And walking was not the best I could do, so I would run (which is what I call the slow jogging I do, because in my opinion anything on your feet that moves you faster than walking is running) in snippets and then walk and then talk myself back into running.  I will tell you it is hard to push the comparisons away when the man and woman at least 20 years older and the young children pass you.  But I was reminded through this experience that we are all called to our own race.  And this was my race that was set out before me.  It was no one else's- it was only mine.

The author of Hebrews compares our Christian walks of faith to a race saying in Chapter 12, verses 1 and 2, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before uslooking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (ESV, emphasis added)  

We are to live our lives that are set before us with endurance.  The cloud of witnesses verse 1 refers to is the long list of faithful servants listed in Hebrews Chapter 11, but it doesn't mean that we compare our lives to their lives.  I think of it as they are examples of people who have gone before and whose lives we can look to for pointers like a trainer helping you prepare for a race. They show us how to let go of sin in our lives and endure in faith. Our race won't look exactly like their race but by seeing(reading) about their faith journeys we can be encouraged in our own.  And then we see in verse 2 the only person we are ever to compare ourselves to- Jesus.  He is the ultimate example of living a Christian life and the only "scale" we are to measure ourselves with.  

If we play the comparison game with others instead of Jesus we are setting ourselves up for sin failures.  The first failure would be to feel less than what we are.  We forget that God created us with specific detail to be the exact person He wanted us to be.  We make less of Him when we fail to see the greatness of His creation. The second sin failure is that we feel more than what we are.  We start feeling pride that we are better than someone else.  Again, God made every person how He made them.  We all have one unique journey to take with bumps and dips that come in different forms at different times.  To make less of those people, is to make less of God.  And to make more of us is to make less of God.  By the way this also extends not only to you, but also in comparisons of children, husbands, jobs, etc.  

Whether you have a great house, smart kids, or a two bedroom you share with another family and no kids we are each running the race set before us and the only person we should be focusing our eyes on is Jesus.

In the end, I ran/walked my way to the finish line in 46 minutes and 42 seconds...amid cheering and clapping that is given to everyone as they run the last stretch and that is well deserved. Because whether you run the race in 19 minutes or an hour and a half at the end of the race we all went a distance of 3.1 miles!  
Me after the race. I was very excited about my socks that had capes and finishing the race!

Is playing the comparison game keeping you from running the race that is set before you?

Are you focused on others more than Jesus?

"But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 
1 Timothy 6:11-12

Love in Christ, 


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