Saturday, March 19, 2016

Finish Well

"Here they come!" see the two runners coming over the for first place...huffing, puffing, giving everything they have, every last ounce being poured into each step. Finally, one inches past the other and finishes the race claiming victory and first place. Then the other thousand-plus racers trickle in continuously for the next several minutes to hour. The last racer comes in...just as determined looking as the individual who came in first. She's huffing, and puffing, and giving everything she has and pouring out every last ounce to finish. Some may say she didn't finish strong...that she didn't put it all out there...but does strength, speed, and ability define the way you finish? Do these things ascribe value to the way she finished or who she is as a person? Finishing well and finishing strong are not the same thing. While the person who came in first may have felt extremely strong and invincible this last finisher may have felt incredibly weak and exhausted...yet they both finished well. 

The whole concept of finishing well has been on my mind a lot today and in these last few weeks. They say comparison is the thief of joy. I know this to be true. The unfortunate part is I keep comparing myself today to where I was at last year. As those thoughts begin I easily become frustrated, discouraged, angry, and disgusted. I thought I finally had this whole weight-loss thing down. Losing weight is easy. Consume 500 less calories each week in your diet and you'll lose a pound a week. Consume 1000 less calories each week and you'll lose 2 pounds each week. Add exercise to that and you're on a fast track to quick weight loss. That part is easy. Life in addition to all of that, however, is not. 

 When September came around I left labor and delivery, went back to my beloved med-surg floor, and became assistant nurse manager on my unit. While all of this has been exciting and a huge learning curve it has also made my diet and exercise complete chaos. I thought working 4 - 10 hour shifts each week would give me more time to workout and eat better, yet, I feel like it has done the opposite. A lot of it probably just has to do with the stress of learning a new position and making the time to workout and plan meals. I'm just going to be honest has kinda slapped me in the face and knocked me out for a round. 

Running my 5k today I just wanted to quit. I wanted to be done and throw in the towel. Thankfully I had a cheering squad by my side running at my pace encouraging me each step of the way. Nearing the finish line Erika, Elise, and Tracy were all waiting to finish with me! I'm not a tough love kinda girl. I'm a sensitive girl who is easily discouraged by the thoughts and voices that say, "you can't do this!" So, when David took the time on the run today to share how the past couple months have been hard for him when it comes to running...when on his last half marathon there were times when he too wanted to quit and throw in the towel, when he felt discouraged that he had taken steps back from where he had been (due to an injury) it was encouraging. When my group of family and friends sprinted to the finish line with encouraged me and reminded me that I'm not alone on my journey. It's easy to get stuck inside of a box and remember that you're not the only one who struggles. We all have areas that need improvement...some manifest themselves in physical terms: weight, temper, etc...others show in ways that are invisible to the eye: depression, anxiety, etc. One thing we all have in common, however, is that we will all finish one day. Our time on this earth is short and what matters is how we finish.

I feel like Jesus keeps bringing to my mind the reminder that He finished well. Beaten, bleeding, bruised, and mocked he didn't have much strength...He even asked for a sip of wine before taking his last breath to moisten His lips so he could speak. After taking that last sip He yielded up His spirit. He finished well. I think the reason He is reminding me of this is because finishing well doesn't always look like strength. It sometimes looks like sorrow, defeat, death...but what makes the finish one that can be described as being "well" is the time between the first and the last breath. I think Acts 20:24 shows us what finishing well looks like, "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

So I guess the long story short is I'm being shown that finishing well has to do with walking through each moment. Walking through the ups and the downs. Enjoying the moments when there seems to be endless time and energy to focus on diet and exercising. Persevering when there seems to be no time at all. Asking for help when you become overwhelmed and feel like you're drowning. Allowing yourself to feel emotions, to laugh, to cry, to hurt, to wonder. Walk through it. Life never stops happening. I'm frustrated with where I'm at with my weight...but I'm walking through this season and I'm going to finish well! I will persist, endure, and press on...I will finish well!