We pass each other on the street every afternoon, the blonde runner and I.
She's in her pink hat and I am in my turquoise and lime green Asics. Now that I've returned the shoes three times (once by the boyfriend because I was far too embarrassed and didn't want to be deemed a diva), they're the perfect fit, and I love melting my heels into them at the end of the day.
But the blonde runner and I have become almost-friends the last few weeks while we've bounced along our running trails. We do the runner's nod (I'm still learning what "runners" do). It's a little militarily-esque salute--a smile and a little wave--that seems to say,
"Hey, I see you out there, pounding the pavement. You made a resolution back in January and you're keeping it...good for you!"
At least, that's what I imagine her saying to me while I'm on the cusp of my half-marathon training. Not that I could hear anything above my rhythmic huffs and puffs or the audio version of Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines that I listen to obsessively.
But if we were to ever actually speak to one another, I'd probably say something along those same lines, too.
Here's where I have to be careful, though. The blonde is much faster than me. Her ponytail flounces like a metronome on the back of her neck. She's fit, trim and tan. And she's one of those females that apparently never sweats and has the self-confidence and muscle tonality to run in only a sports bra and shorts.
I wouldn't call them pangs of jealousy per se, but I would be lying if I said I didn't feel the urge to hold my head a little higher whenever I pass this particular woman.
My brunette curls fly wayward. I do not believe I will ever run in anything that ever exposed what goes on beneath my tank top. And I probably don't look as sporty as I think I do in my mind.
I like to at least pretend that I don't look like a hot, dripping mess of a mad woman when I run. But I totally do.
This sort of mentality, I'm sorry to say, has been the crux of what my twenty-something years are built upon. Standing up straighter when someone who is more accomplished, has more money, has more expensive jewelry on their left ring-finger or has thrown a big party and worn a white dress to said party.
It's distracting. It's petty. And it's actually a little soul-crushing to look around and focus on the life stages that you're not a part of yet.
I expressed this to a mentor in an email written flippantly, complaining about how it seems that so many other twenty-five-year-olds seem to have their love lives, careers, house hunting and family planning under control. And I am living day-to-day similarly to how I run: pretending like I'm not getting my sweet behind kicked.
She wrote back four simple words: Stay. In. Your. Lane.
This is what I imagine living in the midst of Christ's freedom is like. Running the race while simply focusing on the terrain in front of you. Having the composure to be content on your own path and to reject the bitterness that comes with trying to win the comparison games.
We can't win that race. No one can.
But, we can practice staying in our own lane. We can train ourselves with the same methods and schemes that runners do. Bit-by-bit. Step-by-step.
And when we pass another runner on the street, we can say "good for you, keep going!" and leave it at that.
photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc
photo credit: mysza831 via photopin cc