A wise old adage says that you can’t judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. ‘Cept you can’t EVER walk a mile in another person’s shoes. Not really.

Tonight was a football night. Noah, our oldest, is getting his butt kicked by being part of a football team this year. Tonight was “train-a-thon” night, a grueling hour and a bit linked sadistically to a fundraiser-athon-thinger. The idea is the guys run goalpost to goalpost, there and back, then immediately do ten pushups and ten situps, resist the urge to hurl, then do it again and again until an hour is up.

Did I mention my son is twelve?

Did I mention my son did twenty-two repetitions of this dastardly thing? That I watched, waved, smiled, and nodded (because I still can’t speak, making me the worst cheerleader this side of Jupiter’s eighth moon?)

As I watched, I noticed the coaches’ words: “Pace yourselves, guys. This isn’t a race.” Now, my Noah is a big kid. Beefy. And there are a few boys bigger ‘n him. One kid in particular is nine, and probably weighs 250 pounds. Then there are the little water sprites, the wiry little kids who’ll probably still get ID’d at the movies at age 35. And seventy five kids in between the two. What struck me was this:

Every kid here is running their own race. Cause it IS a race, coach. “Run with endurance the race set before you…” (Hebrews 12:1,2). it’s just that each kid has set their sights on a different finish line.

That athletic kid is trying to win, to pound out more reps than anyone else.

That semi-athletic kid is trying to stay in the top third.

That average kid is trying not to land up in the bottom third.

Noah’s best friend (I’ll call him Bobbert) is back for a second year, and he’s trying to scrape out a spot in the top three.

And kids like my Noah aren’t competing with other kids on the field at all. His comment? “I was one short of Bobbert’s total last year.” Boo-yah!

And the brave 250 pound kid? He’s trying to finish, to do his best, to still be standing when the final whistle blows. (He made it, by the way. Nice job, dude).

We each run our own race. Of course, we each must do our own running—no one can run for us. But has it ever occurred to you that your race is ONLY your race? That the terrain is different, specially designed for you in particular to draw out certain qualities and stamp out others? That winning for you may not look at all like winning for runners you meet along the way?

The church kid runs his own race.
The drug addict runs her own race.
The athlete runs her own race.
The musician runs his own race.

You get the idea. Run your own race. Let other people run theirs.