I'm a runner. Not really, but I like to think I am. A friend of mine says we are "casual joggers". I enjoy running. I LOVE how I feel after a run. It's my cardio exercise of choice. Do I make it a priority? Well, no. Especially not at this time of the year. Would I like to make it a priority? Sure! . . . As long as it fit into my schedule.
1 Corinthians 9:24 says, "Don’t you realize that in a everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!"
As a Christian: If I go back up into that first paragraph and replace "runner" with Christian, there were times when it'd probably still be a true statement. Oh, sure, I've had seasons where I wanted to eat, breathe, and sleep everything Christ. I couldn't get enough. And then I've had seasons, recently as a matter of fact, where "life" took priority. Jesus just didn't fit into my schedule as a single mom working 2 jobs just to make ends meet. I just didn't have time to spend in the Word. The Word didn't pay my rent, did it? I didn't have time for more than a quick "get us home safe" prayer while driving on snow covered roads. Prayer didn't get the laundry and dishes done, supper on the table, and the girls each to their separate basketball practices, right??? Ever been there???
Was I "running to win", as the Scripture says? Nope. Even though I'm active in my church and am a Christian Women's Fiction author, it just wasn't my priority. If it fit into my schedule, perfect! Otherwise, I just didn't have time. Ugh! I wish I could describe how much I HATED just typing those words! But I'm being reminded little by little, step by step, day by day, with the help of some remarkable people, that life is a race. Everyone is running it, but not all in the same way. We can choose to run it one of two ways: we can focus on the race itself (our relationships, our job, our health, our money and possessions, our habits and hobbies) . . . or we can focus on the FINISH LINE.
What's wrong with focusing a lil bit on "the race"? Races are exciting and energized. They are a fun and rewarding event to be a part of. I get that. But, THEY END. They all come to an end eventually. Relationships may come and go. You may wake up one day and find you are unemployed or get a bad report from your doctor. The one thing that will never, ever end is Jesus' love for us and His gift to us of everlasting life. THAT, my friends, is the finish line and I promise if we keep our sights there, everything else will fall into place.
As a mother: So how do I apply this as a mom of 2 preteen daughters? With all the running I do taking them to practices and games, I FEEL like I'm in a race! Haha! And let me tell you, some days (typically mornings - just imagine 3 girls sharing 1 bathroom. Oh, Lordy, if my walls could talk!) I really fight the urge to quit this leg of the race altogether. Have you ever seen the YouTube video of the Olympic runner who pulled a hamstring during a race? Even though he was in excruciating pain he got up and tried to keep going. HE HAD TO FINISH THE RACE. Who do you suppose came out to the track to help him hobble the rest of the way? That's right. His dad.
I helped bring 2 beautiful girls into this race. They are brilliant and determined and bursting with all kinds of potential. And they can change the world if they so desire. (I'm only slightly biased. ;o) ) And just like that father was there to help his son, and my father in Heaven never, ever leaves me, I will always be there to help them "run to win". Here's the bonus: just like the act of running while in the race helps make your body stronger, guiding and helping and spending time with the very little people I helped bring into this race makes me a stronger woman. I can't quit on those 2 beautiful girls. As crazy as they make me, they are my whole world and they are making me better every day just by getting to be their mama.
As a teacher: This is just a little bit different because your students are not your own children and you typically have a classroom full that changes every year. They all have their individual needs and learning abilities. A teacher cannot give up trying to reach each one of her students. Some days it seems impossible. Believe me, I know. But every day that you care about another person's child, every day you keep him safe, every day you give her a little hug and tell her you're proud of her, is a day you've "run to win". And it has been my experience, similarly to my own girls, that by the end of the school year, I've learned and grown just as much from my students as they have from me. Teach them the race route. Encourage them to try their best and stay focused. And then let them take off! But be right there if they need you. I'm always amazed at what my students can do, usually going above and beyond my expectations. It's a pretty cool thing!
As a writer: Some days the story is just not coming to me. Like when you try to run and your legs feel like cement? It's like that. Some days it's great and my fingers are flying over the keyboard . . . and then comes the editing process and I realize what I thought was just genius work needs to get scratched. For me it's a long, learning process. Very much like a marathon. And very often I'd like to take a little break. Sometimes I have to because of work or the girls or any other "life" event. The key is to get right back in the race and to push just a lil bit harder. As a writer, I have to stay focused on the big picture, the finish line. And not just typing the imaginary "The End". As a Christian Women's Fiction author, I have to remember Who is the real Author of this story and Whose story I'm telling. Nothing I write is about me or anything I want. It is all about the big picture. The FINISH LINE.
And this time I'm in it to win it!