It’s that time again. Ever since I graduated college, I made a vow to myself that I would run a half marathon every other year to stay in shape. And this is the year that I run another half marathon. Now I didn’t always run 13.1 miles. In fact, in high school, I swore I would never run longer than 200 meters. In track, I could run short distances and medal, but I couldn’t fathom why anyone enjoyed running more than 1 mile.
Flash forward four years, I started training for my first half marathon. I bought athletic clothing, sports drinks, and energy chews, and read many articles on how to train. Being my first half marathon, I didn’t quite know what to expect. On the day of the race, the train was late picking up many of the runners, prompting many us to stretch on the train. When I got off the train, I wanted to relieve myself before starting the race. However, we got there as my heat window was about to close, so I made a dash to the start line. For the first nine miles I was cruising, then I hit a wall…and I had to pee. If you have run a race before, you know that stopping to pee can mess us your pace and overall time. But when I thought I had nothing left in me, I was able to finish strong and complete my first half marathon. Two years later, I ran my second half marathon. However, I like to think that now I have ran a full marathon because 1/2 + 1/2 = 1.
This week, I went on a 4.5 mile run during lunch. I had to keep my gaze fixed on the ground in front of me to subdue my rush to finish, and my disappointment of the short distance I had run. It was in that moment, that three words that I’ve been struggling with, came to mind: focus, contentment, and gift. When I had run (either during my training or during the race), my focus was always toward my destination/end goal or at other runners. The problem, I realized, is that when we look for the end or envy the pace of others in the race, we can get discouraged. You can probably think of a time in your life when your focus was on an end goal (ex: the dream job, graduation) or on other’s milestones (ex: marriage); how did that make you feel when you didn’t “stack up”? It probably made you feel inadequate or that the race you were running in life wasn’t at a fast pace like others. But there is good news. Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us to run the race with perseverance, and to fix our gaze upon Jesus. When we put our all into the things that we are passionate about (specifically) and life (in general) and fix our eyes on Jesus and not others, we will succeed.
Contentment closely follows where/who we place our focus. Much like running a race, we can get discontent at our pace; we think that we should be running a 9-minute mile instead of our current pace of 11 minutes per mile. Likewise, in life, we can easily become discontent with our lives when we compare it to others. Sure, we could have more possessions, but would that really make us happier? We could be dating instead of sitting at home being single, but there is good in both relationship statuses. I believe that in order for us to be content in any situation, we have to realize the gift that we have in that situation. So in being single, you can use your free time to help others or to focus on your dreams. As a mother, you can use that role to raise great children. As an artist, you can use your craft to inspire others. And the list goes on. If we are always focused on others, we will not recognize the gift we currently have, nor will we be content with our current situation.
I hope this post has encouraged you, even a little, to recognize the gifts in your current situation. If you would like more verses or resources, if you also struggle with contentment, feel free to reach out to me. And if you liked this post, please share it with your friends and family.
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As always, thanks for reading!