April Fools #10: Just Look Up

Editor’s Note: This article by Sarah Lee is a good reminder to us that our successes, or “PRs” are not “ultimate” things… in other words, they cannot determine our value. Culture emphasizes great success, rather than excellence. We are tempted to feel invalidated when we don’t reach our goals, even if we gave our best.

I write this blog entry after having a few track races that did not go as planned. I felt like I did not accomplish my goals at these races. For those who are reading this and do not know me, I am a runner. I am working (very) hard at become more competitive with my running. Right now it’s track season. Yes, adults can run track. I had one big PR (PR means personal record, aka, ran a faster time than I ever had before) in the 5000m in the beginning of the season, and after that PR I have been running slower times. This is quite frustrating, as one would imagine. When I ran a huge PR in the 5000m at the beginning of the season, I was so excited. However, I quickly forgot that I had run such a big PR when my future races did not go as well. Each time I get slower I feel a sense of my goals fading further and further away. If you do not run, just think what it is like to feel a sense of failure in your job, parenting, or your marriage; the list could go on and on.  We can all relate to that nagging sense of failure. Many times I get stuck in the moment and forget to look up from the details and focus on the big picture.

As I was thinking about this situation, I was reminded about feeling stuck in the forest on a run about six weeks ago. I was running through the Nisene Marks Forest, which is in Northern California, near Santa Cruz. The forest is beautiful and is such a wonderful snapshot of God’s beautiful creation. It has one main trail down the middle and then many side trails that extend off from the main road. At one point in my run, I decided to go off on one of the side trails, but as I was trying to get back to the main trail I started to get turned around and couldn’t find the main road. As I was running along, I was looking down trying not to fall on roots. When I stopped running and looked up, I realized the main trail was right through the trees. I was so relived.

This scenario is such a great metaphor for life. Sometimes we get stuck in the details and forget to look up. As I was thinking back on this scenario, I started to realize the many ways I do this in my own life with many situations and my goals. Just this past weekend when I ran a race that did not go as intended, I was once again finding myself forgetting to look up.

Going back to my story from the beginning of the blog, if I look at the big picture, I see that this is just one track race and one track season. Hopefully I will run a new PR in the next track race and next year’s track season will build on this one. I still have a few races left in this track season. Not accomplishing what I set out to do still leaves some frustration, doubt, disappointment, and sadness at the moment. However, when I look at the big picture, I can see things more clearly.

More importantly, we all need to think about the big picture God has created us for when he placed us here on earth and how we will deal with setbacks along the way. God created all of us for a purpose. This is what many Christians call a “calling.” We are all called to different things. For some it may be running while for others it may be a business career. I believe God finds great joy in watching his children live out their passions and callings. The good news is that God knows exactly what will happen to each person long before we enter the world. This does not means that we should wait for God to drop something in our laps before we act though. We need to look at the big picture and act on what God is calling each of us to do.

For those reading this who are Christian, if we believe Christ’s death on the cross is the only hope for us to have eternal life, how does this change our life? This should vastly change the way we live each day.  Last night at church, the pastor reminded us that everything we do should be done for the Lord. I should dream big and go after my goals and life calling, however, at the end of big picture is Christ. At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I glorified in the way I acted, trained, and interacted with the world. I want to finish the long term race strong and in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Goals are good, but the process should be one that will glorify our mighty savior.

When you get stuck in the moment, or feel a sense of failure, don’t forget to look up and focus on the big picture of what is calling you do. Just look up, the main road is right ahead.

Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Lee

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