Sometimes it feels like this.
Running, working, striving, trying so hard to reach the goal, so hard that you’ve never imagined this is what they meant when they said ‘Try, try again’ because trying is all I do. It’s all I know how to do, it’s not like I ever reach anywhere so I can relax and enjoy the inside of rest for once.
Running toward a goal becomes the thing we want. It takes over us, consumes our life like it’s our job, and sometimes it is, but whose fault is that? ‘It’s the way of the world’ he says, ‘just the way things are’. I’ve now spent most of my life trying to conform myself to ‘the way things are’ and here I am again, running toward goals that seem to get farther away the faster I run the harder I try.
So, I’m currently training for a Half Marathon… That’s right, a whole freaking CAPITALIZED Half…full stop…Marathon.
I don’t know if you realize how literally ‘yuuuge’ this is. That’s because, folks, and I don’t know if you’ve actually met me, is because
One thing God has not graced me in this life with (well haha, ha, one of many things, haaa, I mean… *gulp) is the beautiful graceful slender physique of a runner. See, I’m Scots-Irish heritage, and so that means that my national sport was probably wrestling [or at least maybe just taking an enemy’s head off in battle] – a least that’s what I’m left to assume when I look in the mirror.
But be that as it may, I am actually doing this thing called ‘training for the long haul’.
One of the most important things in life, to me personally, and -I’m learning, with some help- on the mission field, is to be fit: mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically.
Physical fitness is one of the core values of this current group of very fine individuals I’m currently privileged to do life with in this season, and so I run. Well, I was forced into running. Coerced into running? OK OK it’s the same thing. Anyways it was ‘strongly suggested’ that I run…or at least work out somehow. I mean it is one of the values and personal spiritual disciplines I try to follow, as a member of a globally dispersed group of contemplative activists called Axiom, but I digress.
See, the thing is, I LOVE IT.
I mean, I actually am coming to enjoy it, despite the pain, despite the god awful hour I have to get up to actually get it in before the day starts, before the ‘red hot fire demon‘ (AKA the sun) rises and makes this world unbearable.
But it’s really not that bad. Waking up early is preferred to staying up late. The mornings here are really a beautiful and special time of day, and it is a LOT cooler.
But that’s not the half of it (haha, get it? see what I did there)…
God is teaching me persistence in this season.
Right now it’s like this.
Perseverance. Persistence. Consistency.
These are things that I’m learning. These are things that are not easy lessons for me.
I think most people have trouble going, that they need that kick in the arse to get out of the inertia of the comfort zone and do something.
But for me, it’s the opposite. I don’t know how to stay.
“Imagine what you can achieve in ten years, if you consistently do something about your dream. You don’t even have to spend hours on it. It can be minutes every day. Small actions compounds.”
And so God is teaching me.
And so I am learning.
And so I have no idea what I’m doing.
This is where it gets real. This is where it gets raw. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. And wherever that happens smoke arises.
I expect there to be some smoke, some friction, as in all things new and important and necessary come to pass. But I also know that in this is the formation of success.
Success only comes through getting your hands durty and mud on your clothes. It only comes through dragging yourself out of bed everyday, usually way earlier than we would want to if left to our own devices, before the evil sky demon makes its burning presence known. No, success and things that go along with it require a burning of their own, one of desire and effort, among many other things. But the rewards are great. Or so they tell me.
Faith, Hope, Love.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.
You may recognize these as principles, Biblical yes, promises, of the true life, one lived in service to a Higher Being and in the way of others. Love is even mentioned twice here, and we all know that the most important things are repeated.
What is glaringly absent from this mix is what’s required to attain these gifts…if attainment is even the right concept (which it isn’t, I just took the liberty of using that as an ideological shortcut in order to prove my point). In fact what’s arguably missing in most of the common literature is what’s required to get us to the finish line.
One example I can think of that’s an exception to this rule is the Bible. It talks a lot of perseverance, often put into the terms of ‘running a race’, and the frame of reference is that of a marathon, not a sprint. Fitting, no?
But are perseverance persistence and consistency the same thing? How are they similar, or different? And what does persistence, commitment, and influence have to do with each other? Are these concepts related or completely foreign to each other?
More to come…
~To Be Continued…