I knew I had to wake up early (early considering it was a Saturday) today – Ethan chose to run in a cross country meet. So, I naturally woke up with plenty of time (fear of oversleeping is my alarm clock). I begrudgingly got out of bed and walked to the living room where I saw the boy already up watching TV. “Good morning”, I grumble, and walk straight for the coffee maker. “What do you want for breakfast?” I ask, as I get out a cereal bar for him. He can get his own milk out.
“Can I have eggs?” Says the boy who wants to run the race fast. Crap. I didn’t want to make him eggs. I didn’t want to go to the cross country meet. It’s Saturday and I want to sleep in. But I clean our skillet, (yes, I even had to clean the skillet) and scramble up some eggs. I hold no illusions like my son does. Eggs are not going to make him any faster. I can’t even see him running for any great length. He comes from a daddy that is a sprinter, and a mommy that would be a sprinter too if she could run at all.
Eventually the rest of the family gets out of bed and we travel to the school. I can’t believe how windy the morning is and regretted not searching for ear muffs. Thank goodness I brought the afghan my Speed racer Sista made for me.
The 4th grade boys line up. “Go!” the race guy commands. I think Ethan might have started before the word “go”, but I keep this to myself. He sprints like the end is just a few paces away. Good gracious, he’s ahead of the pack. “Slow down there son!” I want to tell him. “You’ll never make it at that pace!”
Sure enough, he slows and eventually runs in the middle of the pack. And soon he’s walking. He sprints, then walks, sprints, walks. He ends the race a tie with 2 other boys for last place. The rest of the day Ethan is sluggish. “I’m not going to race next year – I’m so tired!” Ethan even has a hard time cleaning his room.
“You were running somebody else’s race, Ethan.” my wise husband told the 10 year old. In racing hard to stay ahead and then to keep up, Ethan ran out of scrambled egg power and eventually ended up struggling. He should have focused on keeping a steady pace, running at the speed that was best for him, racing with himself, not comparing his race to the other boys ahead or behind him.
I do this. Not in racing (goodness no!), but in comparing my skill and talent, my mommyness and whatever else I have that makes up me, against those attributes and successes of other women, other mommies, wives, writers, and spiritually wise people. I compare my non-green ways to the ways of the green ones. I compare my weeds and limited veggie garden to those gardens that are beautiful in color and taste. I compare my normal kids to those of genius level (we all know mommies who love to tell about their gifted children which drives me crazy. I really don’t care about your gifted child, tell me about you normal one).
Yes, I run the race against some really amazing women. It would all be much easier if I could just say, “I’m a missionary. So there, beat that.” Because even if you really are not a very good missionary, you’re still a missionary. That’s a “go straight to heaven and sit at the missionary table (the table next to the original 12 disciples) at the feast” card in the monopoly game of life.
But I’m not considered a missionary. I’m not that great a mommy, I’m a pretty selfish wife, and I make plenty of mistakes every day at work. I struggle spiritually. Every day I want to be angry with God and demand of him, “When is this time of waiting going to end?”
Paul told us that he fought the good fight, he ran the race. I’m running the race too, I’m fighting the good fight. But guess what? I’m not running against anybody. I shouldn’t be comparing myself to anybody else. I’m putting one foot in front of the other, (in not a fast progression either – just so we’re clear) talking with God about my struggles, trying to listen to his replies, and obeying him. It’s hard. It takes endurance. I’ve been learning a lot about endurance for the past 2 years. I’m sick of it quite frankly. I’m ready to rest in some security and celebration. But that might not happen. At least not the way I’m hoping it to happen. So I’m to keep my eyes focused on what I know to be true. I’m to live each moment as fully as I can, as they come.
And I’m not running somebody else’s race. I’d never make it if I tried. Exhaustion comes much quicker and to a more debilitating degree when I try to run somebody else’s race. I just don’t have what they have to win their race. Thank goodness God doesn’t require that of me. I guess when I prayed for all the missionaries to be good one time as a kid, He figured I’d be a better foot nurse. Some might think that’s a demotion. To each his own my friend, to each his own.
One day the race will lead me to His arms. I want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful daughter.”