Often times, after a race, my mind is scattered, trying to collect memories, rejoice freely, learn mistakes.
And, it’s usually not for a week or a few weeks that I start to think about all that just happened, a blur of competing and all that comes with it.
Sometimes I feel relief. Sometimes I feel joyful, like I’m on a high from racing and putting my hard work into a race. And, many times, I feel disappointed, too.
As I was reading “Savor” by Shauna Niequist this morning she wrote in simple and meaningful words, her journey to completing a marathon. And, she asked at the end,
Have you ever run a marathon, or fulfilled some other physical goal that pushed you beyond what you had thought you could do? What did you learn from the process?
And, my pen met the paper as I wrote out simple thoughts, but ones that hold the weight of me.
God really lit a fire in my spirit. But, it has come with many ups and downs since then.
Racing a marathon lit a fire in me that can’t be burned out. But, the marathon is something I hold close to my heart. And, when races don’t go as I hoped or my training points to break throughs, but none happen, I feel a little bruised and disappointed.
Often times after races, I look forward to blogging, but hold off, until I can rap my head around things. It would never be my heart for my thoughts on my race to sound negative or disheartened, so in my disappointment post-races, I often think about how I can convey my thoughts in a graceful way. The ups and downs of racing and training aren’t negative. They are like growing pains. The process can be painful but the results, someday, will show all the hard work and all the grinding of marathon training, of focus, of dedication. God calls us to different seasons, and sometimes I feel like it should be different or it should make more sense. In my own hopes, hard work should pay off sooner. I hope for things that I don’t speak, trying to trust in God’s process, and not my own. But, the disappointments still come and the bumps in the road some days seem like mountains.
What I hold true on all days is God’s vision and purpose. It’s not one I can always see clearly or understand, but it’s what drives me forward on the disappointing days and on the successful days, too. God creates us with unique desires and purposes and I believe, He has a vision for each of us.
The planner in me strategizes endlessly, critiques continuously, and worries often. While I trust in God’s vision and plan, many days my prayers are: “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.” I am dedicated in training, courageous when I race, and bold in my beliefs, both in my faith and in God’s plans for my running career. But, often times, I need to read:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So, do not worry.
Do not worry about a less than ideal race.
Do not worry about the college you will choose.
Do not worry about approval of people.
Do not worry about other’s criticisms.
Do not worry about your future career.
Do not worry about finances or retirement.
So, do not worry.
We have a Savior to save us from worries. Whether it’s worries wrapped up in your career, or about your kids, or (for other professional runner’s reading this) less than ideal races.
Do not worry and trust. Trust God’s plan. Trust His Vision. (Words I repeatedly pray and have a hard time living out.)
My favorite poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver plays in my mind often,
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
What will you do with the life God has given you?
I’m going to do my best to race with joy, embrace the challenges, and worship my Savior. God gave me (and you) a precious life to not spend worrying and critiquing. Instead, see His vision and His plan for you which is nothing less than precious and wild.