When you wake up each morning, what is it that you long for? After getting your teeth brushed and perhaps a lunch or two packed, and checking your to-do list, what do you want? REALLY?
You might answer that a lot of different ways, but I’m betting on one thing. You long to know that you’re achieving something significant. I’m with you.
Maybe there’s a goal you’ve gone public with, or one that you’re afraid to say out loud. It may be big and long-term (like starting your own business with kingdom values, or becoming a lawyer who will help advocate for the least and the left-behind, or raising godly kids.) Or it may be smaller, but still valuable and significant to you (like losing weight or hitting a certain score on the GRE)
Big or small, overtly spiritual or not, our goals and longings can be used by God in eternal ways. Our dreams are tools He can use to form our character.
Most of you remember that I had a goal last year to run a half marathon with Team World Vision in order to draw attention to the need for clean water around the world and raise money to dig a well in Zambia. I’m so grateful that I was able to accomplish this (praise Jesus!).
But in the process I got injured and have been dealing with various forms of tendonitis ever since. SOOOOO FRUSTRATING!! What about all the “next things”?? The “GREATER THINGS”?
Have you ever had a set-back in a goal or something you’re longing for? And you want to say, “JESUS!!! Come ON!!”
Well, running is just a tiny example in my life. As hard as it was, it gave me great joy. It helped me achieve something for a greater good (clean water). It gave me a sense of accomplishment. And the experience taught me a lot about spiritual formation.
So this year-long set-back has been maddening. I’ve worked hard. I’ve been to the dr. and physical therapist a bazilliionty times. I’ve had some false starts as impatience got the best of me, but my goal was to begin again September 1st.
September dawned beautiful, dry, and 75 degrees. I had no excuses, but I confess, I was scared. I was back at square one. Have you been there?
The “what if’s” plagued me, not just about this little run, but about All Of The Things.
What if I’m just not good enough, healthy enough, strong enough, determined enough to achieve __________________?(fill in your own dream)
Well, it was ugly and painful, short and slow, but I finished and I cried with joy and texted my wonderful running partner (daughter Katy) as I stumbled home.
Confession: I wanted to quit after ONE BLOCK. How the heck did I go from running 13.1 miles a year ago to wanting to stop after one block?!!
My little starting-over run doesn’t matter so much but I share it because of how God used it to remind me of some stuff when it comes to our dreams and discouragement. I’m “preaching” to myself here! There are other goals I have right now where I’m super discouraged and it’s hard to stay motivated, so here are three things I’m trying to do:
1. Set new goals. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations. Sometimes God is doing a different work in you than you want. I hated continually adapting and down-sizing my goals as I tried to heal, but even that was formative. Now my goal is just to run a 5 mile Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving. That’s MY goal, but I need to keep being open to God’s refinement. What new goals might you set? Which ones might need to prayerfully be tweaked?
2. Do the next thing. The finish line isn’t the victory, the next thing is. What’s the one next thing that you can do? That’s a victory to celebrate today. What’s that one next thing you can do?
3. Your playlist matters. Honestly, I think we underestimate the power of what plays in our head. At the end of a recent run I was totally ready to throw in the towel, but then I put on my running playlist and “Can you Do This?” and “Roar” propelled me forward. Do you have a theme song for your dream?
Beyond the music that motivates you, think of the voices that keep you putting one foot in front of another. Who’s a partner in your dream who you can count on to encourage you? This response from Katy will keep me going for awhile. Find someone to cheer you on.
What’s one longing or goal you want to pursue? How can you apply one of the 3 things above to get on track? Let’s encourage each other!