The Fool’s Run

Excited! That’s how I felt about finishing the Hoodlebug 5K (and getting a shirt) a couple of weeks ago. I asked myself why I hadn’t run a race in over 25 years. And then I remembered! My last 10K (appropriately named The Fool’s Run) was a most miserable experience!

Some coworkers from my first job out of college prodded me to do The Fool’s Run with them and reluctantly I agreed. I hadn’t been training much but felt the pressure to connect with those guys.

We gathered the morning of the race and they introduced me to a few of their friends who were also running. I must admit it was kind of cool to connect with a new circle of people.

When the starting gun fired we all took off as a group. I quickly realized they were in much better shape than me, but did my best to stay with them nonetheless. And I did! At least for the first mile or so. But reality soon took over and I began to seriously flounder, quickly dropping off of their pace and struggling just to keep running.

I suppose I could have walked for a while, but I was just too prideful for that. My ego was further bruised as old gray haired guys and fashionable young women breezed past me on a hill. Still I kept on, wallowing in my misery all the while.

Photo by Chip’s Not Dead Yet – CC BY 2.0

At about the fourth or fifth mile the course leveled out and I was able to relax a little—until I heard the sound of pitter patter, pitter patter. Glancing over my shoulder I was mortified to see a little kid making a bid to pass me. There was absolutely no way I would allow that to happen! Mustering every ounce of prideful energy within me, I pushed forward until the sound of his footsteps gradually faded into the distance.

In the end I finished the race and my time wasn’t all that bad, but the experience was so unpleasant that I made a personal vow never to run in a 10K again. For me it truly was a fool’s run! I hadn’t trained properly, pride was a core motivation for running, and to top it all off, I tried to run someone else’s race.

The temptation to do this is incredibly strong. We all want to fit in and to be seen as successful. Winners are always admired and envied. But it’s a fool’s errand to attempt what another person is trained/equipped/designed to do.

Photo by Chip’s Not Dead Yet – CC BY 2.0

Whose race are you running in life? Have you failed to accept that you are a unique individual? Your physical makeup, your particular mix of gifts and talents (and lack of them), your family background and personal experiences—are all unique to you and your calling in life.

Many of us like to quote the passage from Jeremiah (29:11-13) about God having good plans for us, but I’m not sure that we actually believe it. We look at our personal shortcomings and our negative circumstances, and something deep inside of us mutters, “God can’t possibly have good plans for me.”

So what do we do? Most of us try to live up to somebody else’s standards, to run their race in life. But it’s a fool’s run! We can’t do what they do, and nobody else can effectively do what we are uniquely crafted by God to accomplish in this life. All too often we end up miserable, sometimes quitting the race completely.

It seems to me that our selfish and prideful desires to meet this world’s standards blind us to God’s goodness. At the very core of His being, God does have good plans and purposes for each and every one of our lives. Don’t run The Fool’s Run the way that I did for so many years! Discover the amazing treasure of life hidden in the midst of even your negative circumstances!