Friday, June 19, 2009

Why try...

I stepped on the scale again, hoping that this time the numbers would be smaller only to be greeted with the same number I had seen the day before. "Well," I tried to encourage myself, "at least it isn't getting larger." You know what happens next. I try to better the next day only to find that this time the number goes up again. I can almost hear that nagging voice inside me say "Why try?"

We have all had those moments when we try to do our best in some area only to meet failure - again. For me, that battle has shown up lately in the area of my weight and more importantly, in my fitness level. Just a few years ago I was feeling great, I had dropped about 20 pounds, I was running daily, and I felt like I had the energy to take on the world. Then life interfered, which it has a habit of doing, and slowly I stopped running and the weight came back, bringing a couple of friends with it. I found I was saying "I'm tired" a lot, my clothes no longer fit, and my headaches were returning as well. I was not happy with me. So I decided it was time to lose the weight and get back to my former level of fitness.

At first, I tried to start back running. I soon discovered that my body was going to kick and scream every step of the way. Not only could I no longer run as fast as I did 2 years ago, now I was even slower than I had been when I first ventured into running. Where I had been running 5 and 6 miles, now a single mile was a chore that never seemed to end. I gave up.

Next, I started counting calories and actually watching what I was eating! What a concept. Now here is the part where I'm supposed to say the weight started coming off...but it didn't! It seems those 20+ pounds have grown quite comfortable on my 50 year old frame. Once again, that little voice inside said, "Why try?"

Why try? Good question. For many, no matter what they do they seem to meet discouragement. We've all known people like that. They try and fail and give up; try, fail, give up. It's a short cycle for some because they soon figure, "Why try?" We've all BEEN people like that. So what is that something makes a person "Fall seven times, get up eight" as the Japanese proverb says? What takes them beyond "why try?"

What could make someone like George Washington Carver, who wasn't allowed to attend college because he was black, sit outside the classroom just so he could learn? What would make someone like Ben Carson go from a zero average in 5th grade to turning his life around in such a way that he later became a world renowned brain surgeon? What could cause someone who has lost a leg to an accident to push past the pain to retrain themselves to run so that they can complete a marathon? You know all these people had to have heard in their hearts, "why try".

I'm not sure what that something is, other than hope..belief that there is something more for them if they are willing to try.

When I first started running, there was a friend who "coached" us and she told me I had to start calling myself "a runner". I didn't want to claim that for myself....I just didn't see it. Others around me were much faster, much more athletic, much more able. Consistently, she told me, "You are a runner." I don't know why she believed in me, but she consistently encouraged me and challenged me beyond where I was. I still remember the race when I wrote by my name, "I am a runner." I didn't win, but something inside me changed that day. I started calling myself as a runner, and eventually I listened and believed. When I was unable to believe, she seemed to believe for me. She helped me hang on and not give up.

Maybe that's a part of the key. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 10, "Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up." Notice that when two are walking together the phrase used is "if they fall" and when one walks alone it is "when he falls." This walk of life isn't meant to be walked alone. It is important to surround ourselves with people who encourage us...not just those who say sweet things, but those who push us to become what we can be. That "iron that sharpens iron" that is talked about in Proverbs 27:17. We all have a need for someone in our lives that can push us to believe in the gifts God has given us...someone who will push us to TRY.

Why try? Because something deep inside says "Yes, you can." This isn't just about weight loss or fitness, this is about life. It's about knowing that while I may not control everything around me, I can decide each day to pick myself up and go beyond where I did the day before. I can look for ways to not only be encouraged, but to encourage those around me....and at times to simply encourage myself! I know that at times I will fail, but when I do, I will start all over again. It's about deciding that for today, I will not only try....I will believe.

See you at the races!

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