It took me all of five days before I started looking at races again. I saw in an email that there's a marathon in OKC commemorating the victims of the OKC bombing. Sounds like fun. I have a lot of friends in OK, and could see some people. I tried to sneak a peek at the finisher's medal. That led to a little web-surfing, which led to this website. Oh boy.
I don't think of myself as a materialistic person, at least not in the "gotta go get this new thing immediately" sense (though Lord knows, I could stand to simplify my life quite a bit). I don't really covet things. But I coveted these medals. I craved them. I practically lusted after them. It was a little scary, man. ;- )
This got me thinking--Why am I doing all this? Why do I want to do another half so quickly, when my plan was to do this one, finish, then get healthier before I do the next? Why do I want to rush into it?
The first answer is, I want that medal. I've played team sports before, in high school mostly. I've never been a star athlete. I've never really been honored in any way for athletic achievement. But the finisher's medal--it's not elite, but it's something. There's an element of "I earned this!" that's very cool about it. But the thing is, there was something else driving the desire for a medal. Something darker. Pride. (Not "the kind that my mother has, but the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.")
I've realized that I soaked up all the attention I've gotten for this. I really drank it in. And I still want more. I want that medal and I want praise from dozens of my friends and family members.
There's a way to appreciate all these things that is appropriate and humble and good. I know there is. But in the past week and a half, I caught myself sliding past that point down into the depths of using a finisher's medal and the attention of those in my circle to find personal validation.
That's not the source of my validation. My worth, my purpose, my balance is found in Jesus Christ. I'm here on this spinnin' rock to make His name great, not my own. And running can be a part of that--as long as I don't co-opt my running to become an altar to the greatness of me.
That truth is a hard pill to swallow, kids. Because, like I've said before, these are all good things. The feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of cameraderie and family, the joy of activity and healthy pursuits. These are all gifts from God, and can and should be enjoyed as such.
The temptation, as it always is, is to take these good gifts from God and twist them into something that gives ME glory instead of Him. That's what I caught myself starting to do.
So I came to a decision, and I wanted to tell you about it.
For the rest of this year, I'm not going to participate in any race alone. I'm sharing these experiences with others.
Mi amigo Trevor has already agreed to take part in the OKC with me as part of a marathon relay team. We're looking for 3 more people to compete with us. When we celebrate the finish, it will be the joined celebration of friends accomplishing something together.
Any shorter races I do this summer, 5Ks or 10Ks, will be with other people, like my dad or my sister.
And hopefully, if I can register in time, I want to do another half-marathon in the fall, as part of Team WorldVision, or another such organization, so that my participation will be about bringing attention to a worthy cause, and particularly the work of God's church and God's people in the world.
And hopefully, through these experiences, I'll learn to appreciate running and racing in right proportion, and see past them to the gracious Father who gives us all good things.
So what now? Well, I have to tell you, I'm getting the itch to get back to the gym--which is something I've never thought I would say. I actually WANT TO work out. I want to jump on the elliptical and sweat out a half-hour or 45 minutes. I'm starting to make better food choices, eat cleaner foods, and get more sleep. It seems like the next logical step is to get back to pushing myself physically to accomplish more. Hopefully, as a result, I'll start shedding the 200+ pound fat-suit I've been carrying around for the last decade.
So I still need your encouragement, not to lose sight of my goals just because the first big race is past me. I love your comments. And I could use your prayers, as I start pursuing total health with a renewed vigor. So thanks for your support and friendship thusfar, and stick around, because this page will be my chronicle of the ups and downs of this crazy ride.
Have a great rest of your week. And waddle on, you thunderin' herd!