I used to think the marathon was an absurdly long way. That didn’t stop me, however, from being drawn to it.
I remember taking a one-credit class in college focused on resume building and future career preparation. I never really bought into the high-powered corporate ambitions I was supposed to crave, but I do remember writing down “run a marathon” on a list of personal goals.
I don’t think it’s an absurdly long way anymore, possibly because I’ve made online and in-the-flesh friends who have run 50 mile and Ironman (140.6 mile triathlon) races. They aspire to things like 24 hour endurance challenges.
I will say I get it. Even if the training gets long and unforgiving, there’s something deeply special about the camaraderie covering endless miles creates. I’m certain this becomes more true the longer the race gets. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to carry on a proper conversation during a 5K, but I’ve made lasting connections during each marathon I’ve run.
Back in junior high 3200 meters (the dreaded 2 mile) seemed like forever. I never would have dreamed I could run a marathon, much less become a marathoner who covered the distance multiple times.
I need to remember to give thanks for that. Every finish line represents another day I am able to run.
Something else also emerged as I’ve been reflecting on the accomplishment and disappointment of marathon number three.
My own weakness has never felt so apparent to me as during the last half hour of this race. I was broken.
My legs weren’t going to carry me to my goal time, and I was beyond disappointed. Why was I letting it slip away?
It’s so easy to look back and think I should have had the mental strength to will my legs faster. All the training should have made my body strong enough to push through the pain.
Could have. Should have. Would have. But with these thoughts I miss the point. It’s not about my strength or lack there of. It’s about a bigger strength. The strength that formed my body, sculpted my mind, and keeps my heart beating everyday. Divine strength.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 KJV
God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Does that mean God caused me to miss my goal?
Can He help me through the disappointment so I emerge better because of it?
I think so.
In reflecting on all of this muck in my head, God brought me some peace in my weakness. I’m human and sinful, and for the rest of my life I will continue to mess up. Not just in running, either. :-) This reality affirms my need for Christ all the more.
It’s never fun to admit failing, and other people usually don’t want to hear about it. We share our smiles and healthy suppers on Instagram or twitter while we casually push away the fights we’ve had and the bitterness we carry.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to dwell on the positive and push past the negative, but sometimes we need to own our weakness and realize we can’t do it alone.
God cares about the small things – every sparrow. He is present in every aspect of life, big or small. In my worst moments, that’s when I really need to remember to invite him in.
At the end of the marathon, my dad was busy capturing smiling photos of me, the finish line, and my medal. JR was taking photos too, and he got this gem.
I promise I wasn’t really pouting this much! At least not audibly… I think it was just a tired moment, but I was feeling a little this way on the inside. It’s not glamorous, but at least it’s real.
Somewhere in the future, when I do achieve my next big goal, I’ll know it’s God strength working past my weakness that brought me to success.