Measuring Up

How I learned I didn't need to worry about measuring up

I'm sure the warning signs were there. But I was moving at such a fast pace, I missed them all until the day I woke up totally burned out, with no idea how I got there. Difficult questions ran through my head: Was this what life was supposed to look like? How had things gone so awry? It wasn't exactly a midlife crisis, but something was terribly wrong.

My life wasn't that different from a million other women. College, marriage, a child, a career. Somewhere along the way, though, I started feeling as though I were living someone else's life.

I needed time to think—to tally what I knew for sure, what I needed to hang onto, and needed to discard. As I sorted things out, I realized there were truths about living an abundant life I'd totally misunderstood. Here is what I learned:

You Have to Run Your Own Race

Our culture constantly evaluates whether we're "successful" by measuring everything from our bank account to our IQ to how many miles we can run without full cardiac arrest. The benchmark isn't how well we do, but how well we do compared to everyone else.

So whenever I used to read Hebrews 12:1, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," I'd picture myself running alongside my sisters in Christ, constantly trying to gauge how I was doing. Was I spiritual enough? Was my home sufficiently organized? How did my appearance stack up? I especially worried about how I was doing as a mom and wife. I wanted to know if I was "holding my own."

One day I had to drop off something at the home of a woman I didn't know. While chatting, she showed me around her house. She'd covered her children's beds with quilts she'd made from scraps of their old clothes, filled with embroidered squares that depicted events in each child's life. Her refrigerator displayed a star-filled chart that indicated how many Bible verses her kids had memorized. In the backyard, each child had his own vegetable garden.

I felt like throwing up.

When I got back in my car, I started to cry. God, this race business is a drag. If this is what it takes to be a good mom, I concede defeat. I can't measure up! I hope you have a Plan B!

The next morning, I revisited Hebrews 12:1, and the Holy Spirit illuminated something I'd been missing: We're to run the race marked out for us.

It was as though a 500-pound weight fell off my shoulders. I didn't have to measure up to other moms. I didn't have to take on an assignment someone else thought I should—especially when it didn't fit my skills and talents.

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May 25

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