Running your own race

I recently started a new job and as in any new job my first week was filled with a variety of meet and greets, which included an occasional get-to-know-you lunch. So there I was, sitting across the table from a new colleague at a restaurant that serves dynamite brussels sprouts tasked with trying to eat politely while answering various questions about who I am as a person. The topics of conversation ranged from previous work experience, to family, to interests, to goals, and well, you know the drill. And to no surprise, the conversation eventually made its way to the topic of a “significant other”. It always does. And honestly there is no harm in the question or the conversation topic in general. However, it was in this particular conversation, when the question came after my myriad ramblings of the 349838943x million things I have going on in my life, that my answer was greeted with “If you don’t slow down, how is anyone supposed to catch you?”

And I smiled.

A genuine smile. Because this was not the first time I have heard some form of this response to what my father refers to as “my complete lack of interest in the dating world.” But it was the first time that my genuine smile was accompanied by an internal monologue. Which went a little something like this, “I don’t want to slow down so someone can catch me, I want someone who will run with me.” But I kept that thought to myself and the smile on my face and responded with something along the lines of, “you know, I am just at a really good place in my life and I am excited to see what God has in store.”

And that was it. Our main courses arrived and that particular conversation was traded for mouthfuls of pasta-of-the-day specials.

But that comment stayed with me.

“If you don’t slow down, how is anyone supposed to catch you?”

It made me think. Not just about my dating life but also about life in general. About how people always seem to be running to catch something or someone. To catch up to their peers, their friends, a job status, or insert any attainable measurable goal/desire/ideal. And it nudged at my soul. So, I paused. I wrestled with it. And I tried to understand what about it felt thorny.

This is where I ended up.

I don’t want to slow down so someone can catch me. I don’t want to run to catch up to my peers, friends, anything or anyone. I don’t want to spend my life running someone else’s race or changing my path or pace because someone doesn’t like it. Because honestly, I’ve done both before and neither one of them filled me up. In fact, I felt depleted. Instead of listening to who I was, I comprised. I comprised my time, my values, my dreams, my plans. I slowed down. I left my path. And to no surprise, I got lost.

So now, like Dua Lipa, although a bit different, I have rules:

  1. Any time I feel like life is saying “work really really hard and just ignore your soul cravings for awhile and you will have what you want,” I pause. I don’t completely reject that feeling or throw a bullshit flag, because there is merit in making certain sacrifices. But I do pause when life tempts me to run a race that doesn’t feel like mine, that isn’t my pace, or isn’t on my path. And I examine the road that has presented itself in front of me and spend time determining whether or not I want to lace up my proverbial running shoes.

  2.  I spend time in prayer. I ask genuinely, honestly, and openly for God to reveal His wisdom to me. I pray, what I consider to be the hard prayer of, “not my will but yours.” And I do my best to wait for His guidance.

  3. And when it is hard for me to wait, because I still haven’t mastered the virtue of patience, I pay special attention to road blocks that appear on my running path. Because I firmly believe that what is meant to find you, will. It won’t require you to jump over hurdles at every turn (see: decision points), it won’t require that you turn your entire value-system/life/or soul cravings upside down. What is meant for you won’t require you to be anything but just that, you.

So that’s where I’ve landed. I’ve landed on listening. Both to God and to my soul. I’ve learned that running any other race than that which aligns with both of those forces only leaves me tired, lost, and/or injured because it wasn’t a race made for me.

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