The Benefit of Not Measuring

Several miles into a recent long training run, my cell phone battery died, not only leaving me without any music (my running playlist -- a mixture of 80's dance music, motivational movie soundtracks, and worship songs -- is fondly titled "Holy Epic Dance Party"), but also without any indication of how far or how fast I was running.  The reassuring voice that regularly speaks through my headphones with half-mile updates on my progress and speed fell silent, and I continued listening only to the steady tread of my feet on the pavement.

When I returned home and my husband asked how my run went, I didn't know how to answer.  I couldn't calculate the exact distance I had run.  I didn't know if I had sustained a good pace. 

How was my run?  Well, I had gone out and done it.

I've been thinking about how much of our lives are measured -- how much data we keep and track.  We can calculate our daily steps and count our calories.  We track our children's academic and developmental progress.  As a blogger, I'm encouraged to quantify my daily traffic, platform size, and social media followers.

I understand this.  I just don't always think it's healthy.

I'm not against working hard, setting goals, or tracking progress.  Not at all.  These measures help us to stretch, grow, and see results.  I'm simply against confusing these measurements with my worth.

In my own life, I'm pushing back against the systems that feed into this confusion, those systems that urge me to think that bigger and more is always better.  I want to be aware of the subtle trappings, refuse to run the endless races of self-measurement and promotion, and avoid becoming enslaved to one-dimensional or inaccurate ways of seeing myself.

Because my worth can't be measured in numbers.

Let me repeat this: measuring our significance by numbers -- our dress size, how much money we earn, how many loads of laundry we folded today, how many people "like" our status update, how many times we exercised (or didn't) this week, or whatever other arbitrary mechanisms we set up to gauge our performance -- is fickle and futile.

Last week I spoke at two women's events, one large conference and one small mom's group, with this simple message: we're worth more than these measurements.  So much more.  Success in fulfilling our life purpose can't be quantified and reduced to a mere number, as if significance could be captured through such narrow metrics.

I'm humbled by how God gently and frequently reminds me of this lesson through ordinary moments, like a dead cell phone battery on a long run that forces me to appreciate a run just because I ran, not because of how far or fast I traveled.

It never was about the speed or distance.  The value was that I did it, that I laced up my shoes and ran.

We're worth much more than numbers can measure.  Today, let's not fall into that trap of thinking otherwise.

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  1. Oh yes! I needed this reminder Robin... thank you. I constantly measure my worth by numbers, by productivity and all I've accomplished in the race for more, to be better, to give more do more be more...

    The pressure I put on myself can be so damaging, paralyzing really. Those numbers are toooo powerful!! I must realize they do not equate my worth. I wish I could have been at one of your speaking engagements!! Oh I would have loved that. <3

    1. Chris, I totally understand! Like you, I always push myself -- in work, in parenting, in in pretty much every facet of life! It's great to have drive, but like you said, the pressure can be paralyzing. We can't give the numbers control of our worth, especially when we have a God who has so totally secured our worth just by loving us.

      I wish you could have been at one of my talks, too!! :)

  2. I'm a perfectionist and this is always always always a battle for me. I'm very selective about what I measure, because if I'm not careful I can focus too much on the day-to-day performance and less on the overall direction, which often can make me feel defeated. Great reminder!

    1. As a fellow perfectionist, I hear you, Gina!

  3. Nicely put Robin great share!

  4. Wonderful and wise words my friend!

    I recall listening to a recording of one of your talks and I recall you mentioning comparison/measuring in that talk.

    I needed to read this. I am guilty of getting caught up in the numbers... especially when it comes to blogging but those numbers often rob me of my joy because when is enough... enough?!

    Your post also made me think of my friend who was killed walking in a crosswalk last year. The driver was young and at fault but there were no other contributing factors. She was recently sentenced to a 2 year license suspension and a $2000 fine. Those numbers devastated me Robin. The life of a dear friend is "worth" $2000 - how can that be?

    Those numbers also kept me from forgiveness and bred bitterness in my heart... which is something I don't want to grow and cultivate. Those numbers kept me from seeing that on that this young girl who took my friend's life, had her life forever changed as well.

    I felt God place on my heart that no number would ease the pain I felt. $2000, $5000, $10000... no number would seem right.

    Thank you for this reminder my friend. Such powerful and convicting words to begin the week with....

    1. Oh, Jennifer.... it's true: there's no monetary "measure" that could account for the worth of your friend's life. How tragic. I'm so sorry. You're so right that no number would ease the pain of such loss.


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