Are you tired of running? Some of us are running at a hurried pace, longing for a break or at least a light shining at the end of a long tunnel of commitments and juggled priorities. In a culture that is ruled by balancing schedules, multi-tasking, tiredness, and time-oriented people…I think it is good to pause and ask ourselves:
What are we running toward and what are we missing in our hurried rush to get wherever there is?
I am a “get-it-done” type of person. A chronic achiever that feels accomplished when my to-do list shrinks and I’m being productive. I love to set goals and strive after as many things as I can and I don’t usually like to say no when things pop up. In college, I once ran a half marathon on a complete whim because some friends asked me the night before the race if I would join them. Without training and because of my invincible mindset (and maybe some pride), I said yes and completed the 13.1 miles the next morning without even stretching or worrying at all. I wanted to see how fast I could finish it and add it to my list of things I’ve checked off.
Well about three days later, after a few basketball practices and barely any stretching involved…I woke up and couldn’t move my right leg. My IT band was so tight and locked up completely that I wasn’t physically able to bend my knee at all. I was in the worst pain I had ever experienced at that point in my life and that last minute decision I made put me on the sidelines of my senior basketball season for over a month. During that time, I had to take the elevators, use wheelchairs, have massage therapy, take rehab with trainers, and stretch all the time. It slowed me way down and my pride didn’t like it one bit.
That very painful, humbling experience caused me to reflect on a few things about the pace I was going and why I was striving so hard to achieve things. What I was running toward was a sense of worth, to be able to prove to myself and others that I can do anything that anybody asked me and I could juggle it all. It was hard for me to sit still long enough to wait on the Lord and hear from Him first before I “go” and “do”.
I realize now that when my pace speeds up and I try to take on the world, I start to live life harder and faster than I should and I miss out on what God is really calling me toward and sometimes I even stop seeing the people that are running alongside me.
As an athlete or coach, I’m sure you can relate to the grind and how it affects you mentally if you go too long without a time-out or breather.
There is a big enemy trying to run us into the ground and that is the lie that we are not worthy unless we are striving and doing and conquering goals. These are some reflections that I have to continually remind myself of in the midst of a performance-based world:
1) We have to remember whose we are and that we are deemed worthy by a loving, Heavenly Father.
One of the incredible, mind-blowing things about God is that once we have surrendered our lives to Him, He adopts us as His sons and daughters and there’s nothing we can do to increase His love for us. It’s the only kind of love that’s maxed out, unconditional, unending, and unfathomable. He doesn’t need us to achieve anything for Him. In fact, there is nothing we can do to mess up or get in the way of His perfect plan that’s already set in place. He actually wants us to participate in it with Him! He’ll do the work in us and through us if we just choose to rely on His power, not our own. If we remember that Christ accepts us just as we are, we can relax and rest in His glorious achievement on the cross.
2) We have to pace ourselves so that we can lift our heads up and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Sometimes you just need to pause and give yourself grace and permission to get away from people, commitments, obligations, and all of the distractions to just be still and sit before the Lord. Psalm 46:10 says to “Cease striving and know that I am God.” In the same way it is necessary to train for a half marathon so you don’t get injured, it is necessary to spend time with God, getting to know Him, and resting in His saving grace. Then you can continue on and maintain the endurance needed to finish strong everyday. It is not selfish to take care of your soul! I promise you that you will be the most productive, best version of yourself if you invest in your relationship with God first and make Him your priority. Start by letting Jesus have access to your schedules and to-do lists and hopefully soon, it becomes a rhythm of listening and following.
3) It’s not a competition, so look around and notice that God has given you teammates to help you and support you.
When we’re feeling weighed down and struggling to keep going, it is an amazing opportunity to let others in to help you. It’s even more amazing when we realize this before we crumble and we intentionally build friendships and do life with others on a regular basis. God wants us to know that we’re not created to handle everything on our own and the comparison game that we play with others is not from the Lord. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. The more that we can focus on caring for others, the less we will focus on our own cares and worries. Community is a gift straight from God, but yet takes incredible effort. The truth is that we are stronger together and there are specific people on our journeys that we can completely pass by if we don’t slow down and let them see the real us and get to know the real them. Your “teammates” exist to make you better and push you toward your goals when you’re ready to quit. Developing deep, authentic relationships will not only sustain you, but it will make the course a lot more exciting and meaningful and it will add value to your life.
From an overachiever’s viewpoint, these are just some strategies I’ve learned to help myself be more efficient and more fulfilled. 🙂
Written by: Jenna Bolin
Jenna is on staff with Athletes in Action Women’s Basketball in Ohio.
Three simple joys
— My daughter’s laugh
— Visiting the ocean
— Working out
One Favorite verse
— For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7