Racing For Life


The long line of cars stretched out ahead of me in never-ending columns. I crawled along an inch at a time, constantly checking the time and wondering when I would get to work.  Gosh! Driving on Highway 10 (Katy Tollway) during rush hour is a nightmare. Serious nightmare. Yesterday it took me like 10 minutes just to get on the ramp! The work commute isn’t fun so I try to distract myself while keeping a watchful eye to make sure no one sneaks in ahead of me. Every inch of progress I make feels like I just won something. So I crawl along, being careful to stay in the second lane to the left.

You see, habits create a pattern. After driving this route for some time, I realized that the second lane to the left moves much faster between the my entry point (Westgreen) and the Highway 6 exit. Then from there, the first lane on the left moves faster. I’m not really sure why that happens, but I think it’s because all the cars using the Katy tollway stay on that first lane so they can use the left entrance. Since the entrance right around Highway 6 is the last one for a while, all those cars exit to get on the tollway at roughly the same time, opening up a huge space.

Sometimes, though, I get distracted when I see the first lane moving seemingly faster, and then I switch lanes. But, I always regret it because this pattern holds almost all the time.

And then I look longingly at the cars in the second lane as they zoom past and I think “who even sent me to change lanes, eh?” then I brood about how much farther along I would have been.

So, this morning it happened again. I was cruising along in my chosen lane, studiously ignoring the cars in the first lane as they drove past and I crawled along.

Nope, not gonna switch”.

I knew where my space would be and I was targeting it seriously. Well, I got distracted, and frustrated by my lack of progress while other cars seemed to be moving faster, so I decided to switch lanes – and guess what? I regretted it almost immediately because right on cue, my previous lane started moving…and it got me thinking.

“Isn’t that just like life?”

Life is like a race – kind of. Paul the apostle said we should run so that we’ll win the prize. So. Life is kind of like a race and there’s a prize at the end of it. But who are we racing? Is it like the 100m Gold Medal race at the London Olympics where eight elite athletes lined up to race against each other in competition? When Usain smoked the rest of the field and won the Gold medal? Hmmm….I remembered somewhere in the Bible where Paul talks about comparisons.  I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, so I waited until I got home and I checked it out on my trusted online resource.

Paul the Apostle: For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (King James Version)

According to Paul, we are not to compare ourselves with each other. So, if I’m not racing against others, does it mean I’m racing with myself? That question rattles around in my head for a while. It reminded me of the Olympics (Back to the Olympics again, but I can’t help it – they were fantastic!...even the random sports like archery and fencing were exciting). Sometimes, during the swimming or track and field competitions, the announcers would say someone had swum or run a ‘Personal Best’. They may not have broken the world record, or the Olympic record – they may not even have won the race, but they did the best they had ever done up to that point. They had a personal record – they surpassed their previous successes.

So, I learned something from my long commute today. I learned that:

  • Life is a race
  • But, it’s not a competition
  • We all have our lanes (aka gifts, talents, calling)
  • When I look at what others are doing, I get distracted and lose my place, and by the time I get back on track, I would have lost some valuable time.
  • The goal is to have a ‘Personal Record’. To best myself. To be better today than I was yesterday.
  • And that sounds like a race worth running – and winning. A race against myself.

What do you think? Do you agree that the race is a journey, not a competition? Do you have random thoughts at weird times and places (just like me)? Please share your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

Onyih Odunze