Can I be totally honest? This season of life is challenging, and these days are full of everything but normal. On the really rough days, I find myself looking around at those around me.
My peers are chasing successful careers.
They’re married and having babies.
They’re buying homes and puppies and paying mortgages.
I’m a writer and support-raising missionary.
I’m in-between cities which means bunking at my parent’s house for a minute.
I don’t live in a place long enough for a dog, and the jury is still out on when I will buy a house.
And I can’t help but feel behind.
Isn’t that a crummy thought? It’s not a new one for me; I’ve battled with the voice that tells me I’m behind, that I can’t keep up, that I won’t catch up for years. That voice says words like “should” or “supposed to.” It tempts me to run faster and harder and berates me when I trip over my own feet.
As I stumble and fall and lag behind, I look around at those around me and wonder what’s wrong with me.
Why can’t I keep up?
This week I was—again—asking these questions of myself and that still small trusted voice of my Father whispered, “Because you’re trying to run a race that was never intended for you.”
Punch in the gut.
I think sometimes, no matter how successful or put together we look on the outside, we find ourselves looking around when we’re sure no one’s watching. We watch family and friends and complete strangers who seem to have “arrived” and wonder when we missed the train. We hold tightly to that idol called comparison and cling to it as if our entire worth depends on it. We call ourselves to standards we could or should never meet, because at the end of the day, your race is not mine and mine is not yours.
When I step back long enough, I remember the truth—I love my job. I love my life. I really don’t want yours. That’s your story to live, and I’ll take mine.
Somedays, though, our identity shifts. It becomes wrapped up in things we can measure and pursue and aim for. And suddenly, we find ourselves stuck in a race we will never win.
And it’s exhausting.
There’s this curious verse in Colossians 4. It’s a single line near the end of Paul’s messages to individuals in the city, and it simply says, “And say to Archippus, ‘Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.’”
I love this verse. It might become my new life motto—minus the change in name—because in the midst of these words to people in the church, Paul singles this guy out. He doesn’t say that his ministry is better or worse than anyone else. He doesn’t ask him why he’s not further along in the project, why he hasn’t reached a certain milestone. It’s almost as if this guy just needs a reminder. Like you and I need a reminder. Your ministry is important, so be sure to do the work the Lord gave you.
So friend, do this with me—let go of that grip on comparison. Pick yourself up and disqualify yourself from the race you’re in. Walk to the starting line of your own and begin again. Your race will not look like mine, and mine will not look like yours. That’s all kinds of wonderful and beautiful and extraordinary.
Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you, because only you can. And dear friend, our world desperately needs you to run your own race.