Again and again and again

The *very* few times I have made mistakes, people have told me “Well, at least you learned something,” as a sort of consolation. A few of those few times, that sentiment has been comforting. My mistake (e.g. being too open with a friend who used my vulnerabilities to manipulate me) resulted in sparkly fresh knowledge (just because someone shares their deep personal stuff with me doesn’t mean they should be trusted with my own deep personal stuff). GREAT! The wisdom doth overfloweth!

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I think more kids would stay in school if we could see the beauty of our knowledge! 

Most of those few times, that sentiment isn’t comforting at all. Because many times my mistake is to simply not act on what I have already learned. Somehow, the knowledge that I just did something when I already “knew better” isn’t quite as sparkly the second, third, 4,890th time around. The wisdom doth continue to overfloweth until Gallo choketh in a pool of her own stupidity and rebellion.

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Help plz

 

Sometimes I get pissed that despite my sincere prayers for freedom from my loopity-loop of failures, loopity-loop to failure I go. I think “I want to be free of this, and God YOU should want me to be free of this, I’m asking you to let me be free of this – yet WHAT IS THIS I SEE BEFORE ME?!” [wave wildly at my past and current mistakes as they pal around brazenly]

 But what if the repeated mistakes are evidence of God’s mercy?

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.                                                                                  -Hebrews 12:6

Imagine if you’re suddenly recruited to play basketball with the Hawks, even though you are entirely unqualified. You get on the court for your first practice. Someone throws you the ball, and you heave it towards the net. The ball flies straight over the backboard.

Then imagine if your coach came up and ripped the basketball out of your hands and said, “You suck at this, go sit down.” He then passes it to the star player, who dunks the ball effortlessly. Basketball has defeated you – your only way of making it through the season is to avoid all contact with basketballs and coddle your feelings of inferiority by yelling obscenities at the other teams from the bench. You’re still on the team no matter what, but you’re not in the game.

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Lameeeeeeeeee

But what if! Your coach watched you struggle during practice and, every time you took an awful shot, picked up the ball and threw it back to you and said, “You suck at this, but I’m going to keep throwing this ball to you until you learn how to aim. I want you to be in the game.” After missing the net for the next 142 shots, you are frustrated and beg him to transfer his expertise and talent directly to you. But he says, “Nope, doesn’t work that way. Try it again. Again. Again!”

 Is the coach being mean in the second scenario? He’s certainly not coddling you… And I guess one perspective would be “I can’t believe he keeps letting me fail over and over.” But is he really? 

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Maybe this is what we want God to be. Just ignore the bears not sure what that is all about lolzzzz

I think sanctification may be something like this. We want a magic coach wizard who will come and wave a wand and automatically make us amazing players. When he doesn’t, we assume he is torturing us, doesn’t actually want us in the game, or may start to doubt if we were really recruited in the first place. But what if our endless failures are the consequence of him giving us endless opportunities to get it right?

Maybe this sports analogy is a little too much cheese for you all, but this analogy has been a real source of encouragement for me. Especially when I find myself in these deja-vus-des-insufficances. Maybe God isn’t being a jerk – maybe he’s offering me the opportunity for mastery. Maybe he knows something about my abilities that I don’t. So he gives me the opportunity to.. vanquish! Again. And again. And Again.

I hope so.. I want to play 😉 

 

An analogy, if you will.

tired-runner

I’m running a marathon. Why? Well, many years ago I earned many accolades for a 5k that I ran, and I do love my accolades. So much so that I decided I should be an ultra-runner. I knew that to do an ultra-run I had to run a marathon first, and so I signed up with much rejoicing.

From mile 1 of this marathon, I started to panic. I wasn’t ready. I had barely trained, and I learned quickly that the strategies to run well in a 5k were not going to work well for a marathon. Even more unsettling, the other racers made it clear within the first mile that they had trained well and were in much better shape than I was. Somehow, I struggled through like a rubbery-legged fawn and made it through the first few miles. Around the halfway point, I even received a little confidence boost from realizing I was still more or less keeping pace with the other runners. Some runners had already dropped out, and I felt a little special that I had decided to stay in.

Miles 13-25 though, were a bit horrific. At several points, I stopped running completely. Once I even ran in the completely wrong direction, until my exasperated marathon trainer grasped me by the shoulders and set me back in the right direction.

Almost every marathon runner considers stopping at some point, but I have considered it multiple times within every mile. I tell you, it is psychological torture. What makes it worse is that some runners that began at the same time as me, or even one to two hours after me, have already joyously crossed the finish line. In the meantime, craggy seasoned runners keep on running up next to me and saying “You feel bad now? Just wait until you begin the ultra-run! This marathon will seem like a light jog to your mailbox!” Others have told me that no one cares how I run this marathon, as long as I cross the finish line. It’s how I run the ultra-run that matters. While I get their point, that’s hardly motivating for me while I’m still dragging myself through this marathon.

You may be thinking, “Poor thing, she probably has a crappy marathon trainer.” But that’s not true. My marathon trainer is amazing. Other runners envy me. He makes me feel guilty because the guy frickin’ loves to run so much, and he really wants me to share that joy. He never asks me to run faster, because he wants me to want to run faster – to experience the pure joy of running. He says he can’t imagine doing anything else besides running.

But I can see myself doing almost anything, including several things that don’t involve running at all. Running isn’t my passion anymore. I don’t know if it ever was. I’m starting to wonder if I just enjoyed winning trophies at the end of my 5k, but I’m not sure if I actually enjoyed the run. I always cringe a little bit when people automatically assume that, because I’m currently running a marathon, my all-consuming passion is running. They like to say stuff like, “But of course you’re an amazing runner! You’re in a marathon!” But that doesn’t really mean anything. You’d be surprised at how relatively easy it is to sign up for a marathon even if you’re not qualified. It really just comes down to who is willing to put themselves through that torture. So please – stop assuming that 1) I love running and 2) I’m good at running. It makes my bad mile-times that much worse. I’m not being modest – I’ve been running for a while and, trust me, I’m not someone for a newbie runner to model their training plan after.

Now I’m on the last mile. People are yelling “Sprint! You can do it!” but all I want to do is crawl to the side, curl up in a ball, and die. I’ve firmly decided I never want to even attempt an ultra-run. I’m happy for those that do, but it’s not for me. I like the general idea of people out there running, and I’m thankful for the fortitude this marathon has given me for whatever I attempt in the future. But, I don’t feel any compulsion whatsoever to be a part of any future runs. If my marathon is really all about the ultra-run anyway, why should I care about finishing this marathon at all? I don’t plan to use any fragment of cardio capacity that I gained through this marathon for anything else I take on. Is it for the trophy, then? I don’t even really want the trophy anymore, because so many other people with this trophy are actually runners who completed this marathon for the joy of running. They trained, they persevered, they deserve it, and they’re rightly an inspiration to others. If people see my trophy, they will assume that I’m one of them, but that’s not really fair. And when I insist otherwise, I’ll just seem demure.

Maybe I should forget about the ultra-run, forget about the trophy, forget about feeling guilty about having no joy in running, and just focus on reaching that next tree. When I get there, I will try to find some lovely rock in the distance to run towards. At this point, the finish line is less about accomplishment and more about looking forward to being done with running. So I WILL finish this damn race, if only for freedom from the race.