I'm happy to have Mandy Scarr here today as my guest in the "Comparing Ourselves to Others...and what it does to us" series. Mandy and I met online last year through Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team. She blogs at MandyScarr.com and has been a featured writer at the new God-sized Dreams website. Please take a moment to visit her blog and make her feel welcome here by leaving a comment. ~Laura
I am a runner wannabe. I don’t wake up in the morning dreaming of hitting the open road and most days I have to drag myself out the door to work toward my goal of completing a half marathon. I always feel great after I run, but sometimes getting going just feels like pure torture. I wish I could call myself a runner, but until recently, I sort of felt like a wannabe.
For years I’ve wanted to become a real runner. You know what I mean, right? I’ve longed to be that girl on the trail with the perfectly flattering workout clothes, the enviable running form with a beautiful stride and a pace twice that of what I am actually capable of. I want to look the part of a real-life-put-together-runner—like the ones on the cover of Runners Magazine.
And then there’s the actual me. I’m the girl on the trail with the baggy t-shirt, the headphone cord slapping my cheeks, the wisps of hair falling down around my flushed red face. My shoes have holes in them and I’m constantly pulling up the pants falling off of my hips as I jog down the road. And my pace? I’m pretty sure I can out run a turtle, but not much else.
And it’s in those moments, the moments when I start thinking about my disheveled looking self, that’s when the comparison to this “ideal runner” sinks in and the downward spiral starts. I start telling myself that I’m not a real runner, I whisper to myself that I look like a train-wreck, I start beating myself up over the fact that I’ll never finish the half-marathon I signed up for, and those girls, the ones with the killer long running legs and cute clothes…they’ll run laps around me. And those thoughts? They make my heart beat faster, my shoulders slump lower, and I find myself going from a slow-jog to a walk to a “Why even try?”
But recently I had a major breakthrough. I’ve realized that when I’m out on the trail, my mind often wanders and I eventually start down this unhealthy path of thoughts that sends me into a downward spiral. One that makes my breath catch and my heart race…until the other day, when it hit me. I realized for the first time that it’s this comparison to other runners that is making me fail. My desire to look or be like someone else, that’s the very thing keeping me from becoming the very runner I want to be.
You see, this running gig has always felt forced to me. It’s always felt like I was just pretending to be a runner by fitting myself into someone else’s skin. It just hasn’t ever felt natural. And I now believe I know why. Because that’s just it, I’m making it about changing who I am, not about being the runner God designed me to be.
Rather than embracing myself as God made me—beautifully and intricately woven together for His purpose—I compare myself to others. I consistently fail to achieve my goals because I don’t think I can live up to what others have done. And I don’t give it my all because I certainly don’t want to fail at comparing myself to “her.” But the reality is the only one who matters on that open road is the One who defines me anyway. Those other runners, they don’t define me, and they don’t measure my worth. Their ability to run doesn’t diminish my ability to run too. Their pace isn’t a benchmark for my running, and their clothes certainly aren’t a standard I must meet as well.
And so today when I set out to log my miles, I’m not going to compare myself to others on the trail. I’m not going to try to keep up with that girl who just zoomed past me. Instead, I’m going to keep my eyes and my heart fixed on the only One who matters, the very One who has given me this life and this race to run. The very One who’s strength will help me finish it well.
I pray, sisters, that you too will choose to run the race He’s laid before you, and not try to run someone else’s race instead.
Mandy is a lover of deep relationships, theological discussions, and anything with chocolate and peanut butter. She feels called to ministry, seeking to share with women the freedom she walks in because of her relationship with Jesus. She is wife to J and mama to little j. Mandy and her family live in the beautiful suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Photo credit: Stock photo: Running