I am a dreamer. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you I am an idealist, optimist, an ever-believing person of hope. I believe in New Years’ resolutions and setting goals. I believe in taking big, scary risks and little ones, too. I believe that the one kid who just can’t do it right day after day, that today just might be his day. I believe in toddlers potty training and in couch potatoes running and in addicts changing. I believe in you, and I know a God who does, too.
Believing makes my heart beat a little faster, and I hope my believing in you to do both the boring and the big things will cheer you up and on in your work today.
Today is a special day for me. It finds me feeling an extra kind of positive. Today, I cross the finish line of my first marathon. I may or may not be meeting my goal time, and I may or may not be smiling. However, I type about my finish with confidence, knowing those details don’t really matter. Today, I celebrate a dream completed and the discipline it took to get there.
Isn’t it strange that both the mundane tasks of life and the goals we only dream of can equally intimidate us? Sometimes, when I think of grading my stack of 100 seventh-grade essays chalked full of all the grammatical errors, I would rather do just about anything else, yet when I tell myself it’s finally time to tackle that dream that’s been simmering in my heart, fear comes and points at me like an eighth-grade bully, and I continue the habit of which I am champion: procrastination.
Some times the goals I set or even the daily work that must be finished (e.g. those essays I was just talking about) seem so overwhelming, burying me in anxiety and shame that I don’t have what it takes to get the job done. What is it for you? The unending laundry? Driving teenagers to sports practices? Opening up God’s word? Getting up in the morning to start the day? Or something bigger, like giving up something you know isn’t right in your life, or following a call of God that seems nothing short of ridiculous?
This past year, I have been aiming to replace procrastination with discipline, which is perhaps why I chose to prepare for a marathon. My dad has been coaching me through taking things one day at a time, to think to myself, “What can I do today, right now?” Letting go of my own, often lofty, expectations for myself, as well as the fear of failure, and living in the grace and opportunity of today and the faithful help of my good Father.
Running a marathon is nothing life-changing or super spiritual, but it is in this process, I have learned so much about the joy of “learning to love what must be done.” Joy in the choosing of hard work. Joy in the going to bed early, to wake up early, to put in the time necessary to achieve a goal. Joy in the “I fell on my face yesterday, but today is a new day to do it right.” Joy in the process of it all.
And a process it is. In my marathon training, I skipped some days, I didn’t eat as well as I should have, and the Lord knows I never touched a weight or did a sit-up. But I did not embark on this journey to get in shape or lose weight. I did it to give myself an opportunity to practice discipline, and the journey has shed light on other areas that don’t seem so scary to tackle now.
Both the small tasks and the big dreams of our lives share the common ingredient of discipline. So whether you find yourself buried beneath piles of laundry, on Day One at the gym, or going back to school when you thought your chance was long gone, get up today and learn to love what must be done. And when your friend starts tackling something and you quietly simmer in jealousy wishing you had the courage to face the day, cheer her on, tie up your laces, and take the next step for you, whatever it is. Our Father is ready to cheer you on, too, as you learn to journey in discipline through this life.