Running a Good Race

Twin Cities Marathon 2010 009Motherhood is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I ran my first marathon 5 years ago this fall. In the midst of training for the Twin Cities Marathon, I started to compare running to my journey as a mom, and now, 5 years and four marathons later, I still see the correlation.

I have learned that I can train as hard as I want, but I will never fully be prepared. How can you prepare for the unexpected?  I can study the terrain, but there’s always going to be that bump in the road that I didn’t see on paper. And it may get simpler with each race – I may have more clarity with each race – but the journey to the finish line is never the same.

Thinking back to 5 years ago, what did I do to prepare for my first 26.2 mile race? I associated with runners who have already been there who could give me words of encouragement and advice. I followed the game plan to build my endurance – the payoff? I finished. Did I finish perfect? No, but I finished strong.

The same thing goes for parenting. As mothers, we need the association of moms whom we see as positive role models who have already been there. They’ve traveled that road and paved the way. They can train us, teach us, and give us a game plan for success.

We also need the association of moms who are in the same season as we are. They know exactly what we are going through at each stage because they’re going through the same things. They can give us a shoulder to cry on, make us laugh, or encourage us to keep going. They will become our best friends. A shared experience always brings people together.

When I crossed the starting line of the Twin Cities Marathon, I was engulfed with many emotions: fear, nervousness, excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.

The first couple of miles seemed easy — The same happened when I became a mom. The first few weeks I enjoyed the honeymoon stage of motherhood. I was so in awe of my precious gift that I saw no flaws and thought that the road would be simple.

Around mile 5 or 6, it started feeling mundane. It started sinking in that I still had a long way ahead of me. However, the crowds of people cheering me on made it fun – In the same way, after weeks and months of tending to baby’s every needs, I began to feel like I was in a rut. It seemed like the same routine day in and day out. I was tired from a lack of sleep and feeling like I didn’t have time for me anymore. But then a mom would say a word of encouragement, or my beautiful baby would giggle, and my joy would be renewed.

By mile 13, the halfway point, I realized running a marathon was a huge commitment. I started seeing the endurance and toughness that it takes to go on – being a mom is no different. I started to feel challenged by my boy’s tantrums or stubbornness. I saw that I needed to be emotionally tough to handle challenges that being a mom brings. If I don’t know my purpose, I can stress and feel like a failure.Twin Cities Marathon 2010 001

By mile 18, I started questioning my ability to go on. Negative thoughts started creeping in. I began playing the comparison
game with all the other runners who seemed unaffected by the pain. I started to think I wasn’t strong enough to be a marathoner — There are times when I question my ability to be an effective mom as well. Sometimes I compare myself to the mom who looks like she has everything put together – she appears well rested and fashionably dressed with makeup on and well-behaved kids right by her side. But then I have to step back and realize it’s not fair to me to compare someone’s best with my worst. And then a little voice softly whispers, “I love you mom,” and it melts my heart.

By mile 23, I started to breathe a little easier. I knew the pain was temporary now. I started to believe in myself and could see the end – I think we all have those days where we breathe a sigh of relief or a little prayer of thanks when a stage our children are in comes to a close.

At mile 25, the adrenaline took over, and I began to sprint with a smile on my face. I was thrilled that it was almost over, that I was about to accomplish something great. I crossed the finish line at the State Capitol with tears streaming down my face knowing my hard work paid off – There’s always a finish line.

I know a mother’s job is never done, but there is a point of victory at every stage of the journey. It’s the little rewards: their first steps, their first word, their first A on a report card, their starting spot in the basketball game. The ups and downs are all worth it knowing you’ve done all you can to raise your children to be men and women of strong character. I see the finish line as all the “I love you’s” and “thank you’s” and hugs and kisses that you get along the way, but ultimately, the finish line is letting them go to affect others the same way you affected them.

I think of Paul in Philippians when he says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

You’re in the race of your life as a mother. Stay on the course and finish strong. It’s always worth it!

Walking in Love,

Gabe

Advertisements

Quiet the Noise

I had a bad day. Everyone has them, those sneaky moments of weakness that if you don’t control your emotions can lead you down a spiral of negativity. I’ve been going deeper in my faith, learning how to trust, but sometimes I am tested to see how strong I really am. This was one of those days …

Quieting the noise in my head seems near impossible. I can’t even describe what it is. How did it get so loud? How did it get so uncontrollable? Where did I steer wrong? I was going strong. I was having breakthrough after breakthrough. My confidence was soaring. My faith was getting stronger.

It’s almost as if, out of nowhere, a giant blockade ended up in my brain and made everything go black, regressing all my hard work. Then I heard myself start questioning God. Why is this happening? Why does my next breakthrough seem so far away? What do I have to do to get past this? Why this struggle?

Trying to find joy in the midst of my circumstances is overwhelming. I keep telling myself it could be worse and that it won’t matter five years from now, but those reassurances just don’t seem to help. I wallow in my pain when I should take my eyes off my circumstances and look outward. I struggle to find joy when I have so many blessings around me. I so badly want to get back to that place I was at — that place of peace. I want it more than anything right now. I was a better wife, mother, friend, and person. How do I get back there?

I need the noise in my head to go away. I need to quiet the noise so I can hear God’s whisper saying, “Hold on a little longer. I’m right here, and I have big plans for you. I need you to trust me and walk with me, so I can lead you to the promised land. I never said it would be easy, but I am right beside you and won’t let you fall.”

 

The noise in my head is unbearable;

It’s overpowering my thoughts

It won’t quiet down or stop;

It’s making my brain go blank.

 

The noise in my head tells me

I’m not worthy;

The noise in my head says

To quit where I’m at

The noise in my head gives me

Every reason to give up on myself.

 

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can hear God’s gentle whisper

I need to quiet the noise,

So God can work in my life

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can love who I am

And who I was created to be.

 

When I try and quiet it,

The noise just gets louder

The noise screams in my ear,

You’ll never be good enough!

You’ll never amount to anything!

 

The noise tells me not to trust anyone,

That I have to do it on my own

The noise tells me that others don’t care

Or understand What I’m going through,

So why bother them with my feelings

My feelings don’t matter

 

Then I hear the gentle whisper

That says to me I don’t have to be good enough

I don’t have to have it all together

I only have to be willing,

And trust in what is good and right and true.

 

I slowly rise and get back up

I brush the dirt off my legs

I tell the noise it has to stop

Because the only voice I will listen to

Is God’s quiet, gentle whisper of truth.

 

Am I alone in these feelings? I don’t think so. I think others have had this same mind/body struggle. It’s hard to put into words the deep emotions that arise when I let the lies overpower the truth. So I had a bad day, and maybe you did too, but we have to remember that God is good all the time. He wants what is best for us, but we have to keep the noise out. We have to be willing to trust. We have to be willing to listen for the whisper. Because of this, I will brush myself off and get back up. Tomorrow will be a new day, and it will be a good one because I choose for it to be.