When we first moved to Texas, I remember this one specific morning taking off to run a couple laps around my loop. I got to moving and was quickly aware of my sloooow, heavy pace. Not a single step was easy, smooth, or fast. So at the very beginning of my run, I fell into a rhetoric of positive self talk that I was oh-so-familiar with, "It doesn't matter how fast you're moving, what's important is that you're out here and making forward progress. Trajectory. It's all about trajectory, not pace." I've mentioned so many times how running has acted as a conduit for so much learning in my life and in
the next 30 minutes I came to understand life and God better. I'd always been pretty unclear with the commands in religious contexts (whether in scripture or church meetings) to be perfect, yet with also understanding that the purpose of life was to come here as very imperfect people and get better. I was very confused about the gap between one's knowledge and one's discipline to implement said knowledge, and other things that related to that. Other things also being life and goals, etc. As I was pep-talking myself about things I knew to be true- i.e.: go forward the best you can even if it's slower than it used to be, move forward even if you don't want to, just move forward. I thought as life as a marathon and definitely knew that God could care less if we finish that marathon in 3 hours or 16. He's there waiting at the end, so proud. No prouder of the first finisher than the last finisher. All he cares about is that we don't give up and keep moving.
That parable, if you will, made a lot of sense to me. There are a lot of things in my life that I need to and want to get better at, whether it be a characteristic trait or other physical habits. Sometimes I am going to make fast and furious progress in an area before it slow's down to snail pace. It's very hard to be satisfied with a snail's pace when I was just sprinting and getting far fast. In fact, it's hard for me to be okay with going at a slow pace. It makes me fall into negative self-talk, how I'm not good enough, not disciplined enough, and too lazy. I'd been failing to remember trajectory. Am I on the right path going in the right direction? That's what really matter. Is it as exhilarating going slowly? No. But it's getting me where I want to be.
So, that was like part 1. Fast forward to about a year later. It's somewhere around May or June and I'm out running as I had been for many previous months. But all of a sudden I felt like I could barely breathe, after runs I was having major headaches and seeing double vision. Convinced I had a brain tumor or something (not sure I'm exaggerating....) I was googling my symptoms and found an article where the writer was saying many people had been writing in with similar concerns and that there was an answer...heat and humidity! She then showed a humidity chart that illustrated certain paces and then put that same effort level in different humidity percentages and how the same effort translated to much slower paces. And it all made sense! Last year I assumed that I was out of shape (and probably lazy and undisciplined) when really there were these unseen forces (heat and humidity) applying pressure and making forward progress harder and slower. It added an even deeper understanding to the previously learned lesson! There's often reasons why our progress pace is slowed (added obstacles, more responsibilities, less time, etc) and we rarely see the why, we only feel that we're failing. We remember the sprint portion of progress and realllllyyy liked that and feel that we should be able to maintain it. None of us would try to maintain a sprint pace for a long distance race, but it's hard to apply that to real life as well and be okay with it. I struggle big time with this.
Just a couple weeks ago, it also hit me what all this really was. And when this was the topic in Church today I knew I needed to write it down! All this lesson is enduring. I think I've always had a negative connotation with the word enduring. Like, it was a very tangible, miserable state of being. That's what enduring was. Now I don't see it like that. Enduring is just committing to forward progress even during the un-gratifying (not to be confused with miserable) times. It's learning to be ok when you have to downgrade from running to walking. It's finding the value of not giving up and staying present even when things are unpleasant. It's giving time for processes to take place. Enduring applies to a lot of things.
Anyway, this insight has been very valuable for me. It's helping me with things as small as getting through 3 hours of church when I don't want to or am super tired and know I won't get as much out of it as potentially available. It's helping me to keep towards goals as simple as cooking dinner at home more, and laying with the boys at night, and I could go on and on. It's helping me not beat myself up when I'm struggling in different areas. Some day we may have the luxury of seeing and understanding why certain periods of our life were slowed down, just like the unknown of the heat and humidity that is now so obvious to me and makes me completely shift my expectations.
Just got to keep on keeping on aka enduring and the bonus being that it's not all that miserable of a thing to do.