I don't know if I previously wrote about this, but one morning on this trip I was reading a book that talked about the people that receive no gratification from this world, but because of that, they only can get their satisfaction from The Lord. I confessed to my team that I don't want to be ugly, slow, ineffective, etc yet I want to find my exclusive contentment in The Lord...I know I am double minded. I prayed that God would help me to believe that he is far better than any worldly gratification can offer...i know, be careful what you pray for!
Going into the last race, Logan, one of the leaders, contemplated racing as well, but decided not to so that he could focus on serving the team by coaching and not be distracted by racing. We went to a coffee shop that morning and I challenged him by making sure that he wasn't racing because he was afraid that it wouldn't be up to "his" standards. I told him that no matter where you are in your fitness, you can still use a race as an opportunity to give your best effort and God is glorified by Your effort, not the result. I think of the little drummer boy that offers his best gift of simply playing the drums for baby Jesus and Mary. He couldn't offer the world's treasures, but he offered the simple gift of playing his drum; the gift he was given. Although I challenged Logan, I didn't think that my race would be a humble offering to The Lord. I thought I would run a pr based on my workouts and I would get to praise The Lord with gratitude for "success." But I guess that God has a sense of humor and although I challenged Logan with the charge of believing whatever you offer is sufficient, God gave me an opportunity to worship him in humility. The 5k was a mixed race, which I thought would be a magical experience because I thought the men would pull me along... Instead they pulled away in about 1 lap and I ran the next lap a few steps behind Amy Hastings and then I ran the next 10.5 laps by my lonesome. It took all of my energy to TRY to stay positive, to stay in the race, to fight the fatigue despite my gradually slowing pace. I am ashamed to admit how hard it was not to drop out. I begged The Lord that he would be glorified in my efforts, that he would enable me to soar on wings like eagles, that he would carry me between his shoulders... And he did, but not in the way that I would have imagined.
I finished the race. Really slow, about a minute slower than I wanted:17.12. I haven't ever run that slow. After the race, I literally lay on the track in real physical exhaustion. My beautiful teammates walked me back to my shoes and water. Kyal admitted that after he knew I was ok he thought it was pretty funny because I was walking like I was drunk- you can tell he is a pole vaulter:) I was devastated and felt stripped for the moment of any worldly gratification, as the author in my book had described. I went on my cool down in the dark, along a canal, alone with God, and I cannot describe the amazing comfort and desire to praise him despite my deep sadness. It began to lighting without the rain and I could only think of the song, " What can I do but praise you? Every day I give my life to you. I will praise you..." I wish I could better describe the amazing peace and presence I felt of The Lord, and I am so excited to say that I got a brief glimpse and belief that The Lord alone is enough and I literally can glorify him no matter what. My prayer was answered. God definitely has a sense of humor that I don't always appreciate, yet, ironically I truly do! I have much to continue to learn and believe in my heart, but there is a sense of freedom in believing at a little deeper level that performance does not reflect my value. Hopefully it will help me mentally to stay focused on running to the best of MY ability and not compare myself; why is it that I shut down when i am running alone far behind that pack rather than running alone far in front of the pack if my motivation is truly to be the best version of myself? Clearly I have much to learn, but I am so excited to have grown a tiny fraction. Heck, God says if I have faith the size of a mustard seed I can move mountains and that is pretty small, so watch out!
The next morning I read a psalm of David that I could totally relate to. He is lamenting defeat and isolation, but he basically says, what can I do but praise you? Check out psalm 42. People ask him, "Where is your God?" He begs God for his presence and yet he comes to he conclusion despite his downcast soul, and he says, "put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God." I could so relate. Despite my misunderstanding of the situation, my frustration of myself, and my frustration with God, I couldn't help but hope in him and praise him.
I am sorry this blog was so heavy, next blog will be lighter...I will share about my travels in Rome, but I wanted to try to share the processing going on in my head and to celebrate my small softening of my heart to believe that no matter what happens, Jesus Christ my savior is more than enough, and whatever I do, it should be to serve and glorify him with my best. I hope you can also feel encouraged to engage in whatever you feel passionate about and don't let fear of performance stop you from doing it. The result may not be what you hope for, but if you are doing it for The Lord, it will probably be better than you could ask or imagine!