Why? So That…

I had an interesting experience this week.

I interviewed for a job.

Not to change jobs, but more to add something to my already rather full plate.  But even though my plate is already quite full, when an opportunity comes up that has been on my mind for quite some time, I would be foolish not to go for it.

As I applied, I put it all in God’s hands.  Truth be told, from the moment that this particular position came to mind, I have left it in God’s hands.  Because, even though this would be a really cool thing, I know that if it isn’t in God’s plan for my life, then it will not happen.  And I will be ok with that.

To be honest, knowing that I’m doing my part to be willing, and leaving the rest up to God has given me a sense of ease and peace throughout the entire process.

So here’s the deal:

I suck at interviews.

Seriously.

Historically, I just have not been capable of presenting myself in the best way possible.  I get nervous, and even more awkward than normal.  And it’s just a flop.

I walk away feeling dejected, because deep down, I know that I just blew it.

So, to say that a great deal of prayer happened before this interview is an understatement.

My prayers basically went something like this:

God, give me the words.

And guess what?

He did!

But that’s not even close to the best part.  Because, I walked away from the interview knowing that I wasn’t the best candidate.  Not that I wouldn’t be amazing.  But I know that I am not the best candidate that they are interviewing.  I’m far from the most qualified.  I don’t have the experience.

There is a 99.99% chance that I will not be getting this job.

But I walked out of that interview with a huge amount of satisfaction about my part of the interview.

And we’re finally closing in on why this was such an amazing experience…I promise.

The person who interviewed me is someone I have known nearly my entire life.  She was one of my teachers growing up.  And I have worked with her, and for her now for almost 3 years.  But even with such a long history, she didn’t know me all that well.

She laughed at the fact that she asks everyone the same questions, to keep the playing field even.  She asked me to tell her about myself.  And as soon as I started talking about myself, and some of the things that I did after high school, her jaw hit the floor.  So in asking the question that she felt foolish asking, she found out a lot more about me.  In a really good way.  She didn’t realize that I had moved half way across the country.  Or why I made the decision to move back home.

She definitely didn’t realize that one of my most memorable moments growing up came during one of her classes.

But here is the really cool thing…

We talked about my motivation for applying for this job.

Which led to my motivation for doing many of the things that I do.

And that specific motivation has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why do I do the things that I do?

What is the outcome that I hope to get from doing the thing that I do?

To the point where I have written the following on my desk calendar at school:

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I did this so every single time I look at this, my own personal motivations come to mind.

Why?

Well it certainly isn’t money.  As I stated in my interview, if money were my greatest motivation, I would go down the street and work at McDonald’s because I would make more money.

Would a larger salary be nice?  Yes, yes it would.  To add a little more cushion to bank account.  So I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for some help and support.  Yes, that would be fantastic.

But I do love my job.

So what is my motivation?  Besides the fact that this is where God has placed me for right now.

The “why” that I bring to work every day, the “why” that I take with me to youth group every week, is that I want to be able to give the kiddos that I work with something that I didn’t have growing up.

Yes, I had amazing parents.  I had youth group.  I had people that care about me.

What I didn’t have was the self-confidence in myself.  Nor did I have a firm understanding of who God was.  Or who I was to God.

So that…

So what is my expected outcome?  What is my goal?  What purpose could I possibly have in doing the things that I do?

I want these kids to be able to stand firm in their faith.  I want them to turn to God when times get tough.  Not to turn their back on their faith when life gets real, and things get hard.

I made bad, really stupid mistakes growing up.  I made bad, really stupid mistakes as an adult, too.

I want better for the people around me.  So they don’t go through the same struggles that I went through.

Because I truly believe that even though used the free will that God gave me to not just turn my back on Him and run away.  I lashed out.  I swore up and down countless times that there couldn’t possibly be a God.

I was dumb.  I was selfish.

Even though I did a lot of things that God isn’t thrilled about, I believe that He can turn all of those mistakes around, and use all of them for something positive.

And it isn’t just that he can use all of those stupid mistakes.

He is using them.

 

I Did a Thing

Running has been a hugely important part of my adult life.  I found my way back to God because of running.  I found self-confidence because of running.

I have ran 4 marathons, 4 half-marathons, 1 amazing Army Ten Miler, and a few shorter races.

And during my last marathon, I was about 5 miles in, and my thought at the time was that this was stupid.  I had already proven I could run a marathon, multiple times.  So I no longer had anything to prove.  I made the decision to take some time off of running, and a year later, I had just started running a couple of times, and then broke my ankle in 3 places.

My ankle makes me look like I’m turning into Wolverine.  And I’m kind of ok with that aspect of it.  The pain associated with it, not so much.

But there isn’t much I can do about that.

My knees are another matter entirely.  I have known for many years that we are on the “when not if” timeline of my knees needing to be replaced.

For the past several months, I have been walking.  A lot.  It’s all Cheese’s fault.  And I really thought that I had come to the place where I was ok with not running any more.  Just with walking, my knees ache.  And how much more damage do I really want to put my knees through.

Turns out, I failed at following my own rules.

Buy.  Good.  Shoes.

For my birthday, that hasn’t happened.  Yet.  My mom took me shoe and bra shopping.  The bra shopping is a completely different story that I just can’t get into yet.  But shoe shopping is always an awesome time.  You MUST go to a shoe store where they actually know what they’re talking about.  When you enter the store, and you can physically tell that the people working are also runners, it’s a good start.

I’m not the shoe salesman, so I’m not even going to get into the details of the differences in shoes.  All I’m going to tell you is find the shoes that fit you best.  That are most comfortable for you.  Brooks have always worked well for me.  I have ran all of my marathons, except the first, in Brooks.  I LOVE my Brooks.

My mom, on the other hand, hated her Brooks.  It’s all about what works best for you.

Did I mention I love my Brooks???

Anyway, I got new “walking” shoes for my birthday.  And it’s made a HUGE difference.  Embarrassingly so, my now retired Brooks were many years old.  I ran my last marathon 6 and a half years ago.  I was still walking in the shoes that I ran that marathon in.  Not a good idea.

So no wonder everything hurt.

After I started walking in my new shoes, I had a yearning.  A yearning to run.  Because truth be told, I desperately miss running.  Not really the feeling like I’m going to die while I’m running kind of thing.  I miss what running does for me.

I started by running a quarter of a mile.

And it felt awesome!

The next time, I decided to run the last mile home.  Cheese thought it was the best day ever, and couldn’t understand why I was running so slow.

Tip: If your dog is a sprinter, like Cheese, do NOT run at his or her pace.  Run at the pace YOU NEED TO RUN.

Had I ran at Cheese’s pace, I would have passed out after about 10 feet.

I might not have even made it that far.

But I ran a mile.  And beyond that, I ran a mile at an 11:30 pace!  Which isn’t fast.  But then, I have never been a fast runner.  And when I haven’t ran at all in a couple of years, I’m more than please with an 11:30 pace.

So, then I did another thing.  Last night, I ran almost 2.5 miles.  Not all at once.  I walked, than ran a mile-ish, then walked some more, then ran another mile-ish.  All adding up to almost 2.5 miles.  And I ran them at an average of a 10:30 pace!!  Granted, I felt like I was going to die for a little while.  But I did it!!

But beyond actually just being able to run that far, something else far greater happened.  I, my mind, my body, everything, remembered why I love running.  I had a smile on my face!!!  While I was running!!  That hasn’t happened in FAR TOO LONG!!!

I know that should I continue to do this, I need to do some serious strength training.

But I kind of already started looking at the calendar for how far away this one 1/2 marathon is next Spring.  And to just see if it might be a viable option.  Maybe.  Just, maybe.

But for now, this pretty much sums up where I am in life…

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Life is a Marathon…

…not a sprint.

Running a marathon has turned into a vitally important part of my life.  And not just because the process of running a marathon is what eventually led me to rebuild my relationship with God.  But that’s a story for another time.

Our spiritual walk is a lot like running a marathon.  Maybe you’ve never ran a marathon before…so let me help you out here.  

A marathon is 26.2 miles.  The only distance of a race that can be classified a marathon is 26.2 miles.  That’s a really long dadgum race to run. And a lot can take place during that run.  

Our own spiritual walk can parallel a marathon as well.

Roll with me on this one.

First of all, all of the training, and all of the preparation is something that you must do yourself.  No one can do it for you. In order to be successful, you must do the training yourself. I’m not saying that you can’t have help along the way.  But you must put in the work to receive the reward at the end. And from personal experience, you can put in varying degrees of effort during your training.  But also know, the more you slack during training, the more painful parts of the race will be. Hello, consequences.

At the beginning of the marathon, there is a lot of fanfare, fireworks, music, etc.  Big things are happening! At the moment you cross the start line, there is so much adrenaline pumping through your body that you are positive that you are going to fly through those 26.2 miles!  And in our own spiritual walk, maybe not at the beginning of your walk with God, but maybe even at the beginning of a new chapter with your walk, there is excitement. You feel God like you have never felt Him before.  There is this big new plan for God to guide you through. And you are excited!! This is going to be AWESOME!!!

But then, that second step, though.

For me, running a marathon, my wall has always come very early.  Like, mile 2 early. You’ve heard about this before, right? That brick wall you metaphorically run into, and everything is awful and terrible and there is absolutely no possible way that you can carry on and this is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done.  Yeah, I hit that before mile 2. During a 26.2 miles race.

Because, once you get past all of the fanfare at the beginning, reality starts to set in.  Holy guacamole, you are running a really long distance. The spiritual walk can be the same way.  You can wake up one day, not long after you feel this call from God, and the reality of your life completely changing can overwhelm you.  Overwhelm you to the point that you absolutely cannot go on. This is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done.

It is at this point that some people just give in.  They quit. It happens all the time.

But what happens if you don’t quit?

You keep moving forward.  You keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you push past that wall.  You realize that yes, you do still have a long way to go. But it’s ok. You. Can.  Do. It.

During the race, there will be times that you run with people.  You talk, and pass the time. And it makes that part of the race a little easier.  Other times, you will feel completely alone. You have no one to talk to. No one to support you.  Or so it feels. So you’re just out there, all alone. Running. There are times where there is a big crowd cheering you on.  Everyone shouting, and cheering and supporting you. Even if they don’t know you. And life is so amazing, you feel like a rock star.  But then you keep moving forward, and the crowd thins out, and there isn’t any cheering. And you definitely don’t feel like a rock star anymore.  

But still, you keep moving forward.  

Mile marker after mile marker after mile marker are now behind you.  

And all of a sudden, there it is.  Mile marker 26. You have .2 miles to go!  

There is a crowd.  And you can see the finish line.  And you can see the people handing out the medals.  And right behind them, oh thank goodness you see the med tent full of ice packs!!  

And just like that.  You just ran a marathon.

Our spiritual walk can be tough at times.  You will meet people along the way that will support you.  And you will also meet people along the way that are going to try to get you to stray away from your goal.  Sometimes you will feel so supported that you just know there is no way that you can fail. Then other times that you feel so alone that you might as well just quit.

Some people are faster than you.  Some people are slower than you. Some are stronger.  Some are weaker. No matter what, you can support people along the way.  

But one thing finally hit me about running a marathon.  You might be running this race by yourself. But you are not running this race alone.  

There are other people on the very same journey that you are on.  It’s going to look different for everyone. But we are all running a race.

Just.  Don’t. Quit.  You got this.