Hey there, citizen! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here.


Let’s go ahead and get this party started by opening up the honesty box this morning. You don’t really have to say your answers aloud — I don’t know where you might be while reading this — but let me ask you a question, and do be so kind as to hit the pause button long enough to give an honest answer. (To yourself anyway.)

So, when’s the last time you thought about the overarching story of your life, and your place on the timeline, wherever that may be at the moment, and you just said, (aloud or in your heart) “Oh my stars, but I do love my life and I wouldn’t change a thing!”

Maybe yesterday… maybe last week… maybe ten years ago… maybe never? We probably fall into a few different categories on this one.

Now when’s the last time you looked at someone else’s life, someone else’s stuff, someone else’s story, and their place on their timeline, and you thought (but probably didn’t say it aloud) “Man, I wish I was doing that job. Or I wish I had that stuff. Or I wish I had the chance to do that over again.” It may not have been a cognizant comment, so much as a little tug on a heartstring, pulling you wistfully away to dream about something that is not your reality at present.

If you’ve ever stood on the starting blocks preparing to swim a big race, or stood in front of a large group because you have to do a presentation, or stared at yourself in the mirror before walking into a big interview, you know what it’s like to take a moment, breathe deeply, and kind of wish that you had a little extra help on your team to get you where you’re going. Moments in our life like these can be exhilarating, and also daunting, and we are usually painfully aware that we are the only ones who can walk them out.


If you’re planning to swim a big race, there’s one very important thing you need to know before you dive into that water: you have to swim your race. It will not help you, while you’re standing on the blocks, to look at the swimmers on the blocks around you, wonder who’s training them or what their personal best time is on the race you’re about to swim against them. It will not help you to dive into the water and spend every breath of the entire race craning your neck to the left or to the right to see where the swimmers around you are – you could maybe do that if you were just sprinting, but life is not a sprint! It’s clearly a marathon! You have to focus on what you prepared to do in the pool, you have to swim your race.

Like never before, we are bombarded with one particular thing, day after day, and that’s an opportunity for discontentment. The advertising that we see on our screens, on our billboards and in our magazines shows us how we can be prettier, dress better and have longer-looking eyelashes. It shows us houses that might look better than ours. Cars that might be nicer than ours. Exciting destinations that are not on our current travel schedule.

It’s an obvious breeding ground for discontentment, but we probably already know that.

But we give ourselves an additional dose as we watch the highlights of the people around us unfold on Facebook. Sure there’s sometimes very bad news, but often we see the beautiful pictures and fun things it seems like everyone else is seeing and doing. We forget that we’re looking at the highlights a few of our seven hundred friends chose to post, and we start to feel like the life we’re living is pretty lame in comparison.

But you are going to wake up tomorrow morning, and you are still going to be in the same body, in the same bed, with the same life to live — the same race to swim. So unless you’re one of the few folks who wakes up every morning to say, “Oh my stars, but I do love my life and I wouldn’t change a thing!” then, there’s kind of a disconnect between the race we want and the race we have in front of us.

You may have read it here, but you’ve probably heard it other places, too: Comparison is the Thief of Joy.

This morning the Hebrew word for peace was on my mind, Shalom. While there’s a wealth of meaning behind that one word, one simple definition of it is nothing missing, nothing broken.

Doesn’t that kind of peace sound really good? The peace where nothing is missing and nothing is broken?

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

So apparently this perfect peace is available. There is a way to find it, and a way to bring it with us on the race that we’re running. Or swimming.

The author of the book of Hebrews offers an even clearer encouragement:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. {Hebrews 12: 1 – 2a}

So where do we go if we want to be able to say “Oh my stars, I love my life and I wouldn’t change a thing?” We fix our eyes on the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

A few weeks ago, the Hubs and I were chatting about a difficult season in our lives, a real low point on the timeline where we could barely put one foot in front of the other, but we had to keep going. I commented, “I still just kind of wish we never had to go through that.” And then we looked at each other for a moment and thought, “Well, if we that hadn’t happened then, we wouldn’t have moved back to the States when we did.” And if you know much of my backstory, you know that I moved back to North Carolina and had eighteen months of time with my Dad, before he unexpectedly passed away.

Suddenly, I felt so differently about the hardship we faced that brought us back home. I realized it was a gift. A signpost.

I could not have seen that if I could not see Jesus. It looked like a broken place on the timeline of my life until I fixed my eyes on Jesus.

The world would like to tell us so much is missing and so much is broken. And sometimes things happen and we don’t have the gift of seeing how it’s good in anyway — it never looks redeeming, it always seems sad.

But the peace of God Isaiah mentioned back there didn’t come from understanding. It said God could give us perfect peace, because we trust Him.

As we embark on the journey of thinking about the best way to swim our own race, let this thought be yours for the keeping:

Your race is exactly that. It’s no one else’s but yours to swim. Looking at your timeline, it may seem broken and less than beautiful in so many places, and one of those places might be this very moment. But can I encourage you to lift your eyes to focus on the God who’ll never leave you? We may not understand so many of the hurts in our lives or in our world this side of heaven. But if we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can find a peace we won’t get anywhere else in the meantime (until we do fully know), and (we’ll continue this thought tomorrow) we might still see that there is so very much worth celebrating. So much that’s so good.