“I know I’m not where I should be.”

People often say this about their personal growth. I may have even said it myself.

It’s only natural, especially when we’re young, that we look to role models to help us discover who we are and what we want.

But when we idolize movie stars, sports figures and T.V. personalities, we see only the polished surface of people’s lives. They are so talented, so accomplished, so beautiful. They have money to buy everything they want.

And now, thanks to social media, we can all present polished surfaces. We produce and star in our own shows. We have the cutest dogs, the tastiest meals or the best vacations.

But when you see that old friend and hear about their job loss or marriage problems or health issues, you discover that, “Facebook doesn’t tell the whole story.”

And here we’ve spent all this time envying these people’s lives. How futile.

In my mid-30s, I decided to run a marathon. I’d been running two to three miles per day for years along with an occasional 5K race.

Running a marathon — 26.2 miles — was the most daring act I’d ever aspired to. In my mind, at least. I was not a goal-driven person.

I began training in the spring for a race in the fall. All those days over all those months, getting up early and hitting the road. It was hard. Each milestone was hard: 5 miles, 7 miles, 10 miles.

After the race, when I saw my dad, he said, “I can’t believe you did all that training.”

Finishing the race was rather anticlimactic. I was happy for the accomplishment, but it was the training that changed me.

The Cambridge Dictionary says futility is “the fact of having no effect or of achieving nothing.”

But there’s another kind of futility, more personal, a sort of restlessness.

In the novel, “Pilgrim’s Inn,” by Elizabeth Goudge, one of the characters ponders the haunting feeling of futility.

“This sense of futility … it’s nothing, merely the reverse side of aspiration, and inevitable, just as failure is inevitable. Disregard them both."

When I first read this years ago, it had a profound effect on me. The achievement is not the point.

"What can we expect when we aspire as we do, yet remain what we are?," Goudge continued. "Struggle is divine in itself, but to ask to see it crowned with success is to ask for that sign which is forbidden to those who must travel by faith alone.”

The struggle, the trying, the getting up when you’ve fallen … that’s divine. It made me remember the U2 song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

In it's lyrics, the person climbs the highest mountains, runs through fields, scales city walls, pursues all kinds of experiences, but still.

I believe in the Kingdom Come

Then all the colors will bleed into one

Bleed into one

But yes, I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Of my shame

You know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

And that’s as it should be. Because if we found all that we were looking for, and achieved all of our dreams and had everything we ever wanted, we would not have to seek anything more.

But if we keep up the struggle, day after day, we’re exactly where we should be.

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