Finding Strength

The Long Haul

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about that concept of “sticking to my word”.  Maybe its even harder in today’s culture of microwave ovens, texts, and twitter that spreads world news in less than a second for us to be patient about those things which will not happen if rushed.  There are some things that take time and more importantly commitment OVER time.

You can order something on Amazon and get it delivered the SAME day.  But only if it already exists in your area.  Amazon is hiring people off the street to deliver items.  They are circumventing traditional delivery methods such as UPS and opting for seemingly a random UBER approach that allows people in the vicinity to pick up a package and have it delivered in record time.  We truly expect everything to be instant.  It makes sense then that we want complex problems to be solved easily and quickly, and if they’re not than we either don’t have the patience for it or we condemn it.

It is far easier to break something down than to build something up.  If a relationship is challenging its a lot quicker to burn the bridge and leave that person in the dust than it is trying to mend fences.  It’s easier to quit a hard task than it is to problem solve, trouble shoot, and keep trying things until you figure it out.

Growth simply takes time.  I’m not a scientist but I think it generally takes longer to grow something complex and grand like an oak tree than it does a wimpy blade of grass.  It took decades to build cathedrals and only days a mud hut.  Things that are grand in scale, complexity, and beauty usually take more care, time, talent, and ingenuity.  They also take more commitment on every level.

So what happens when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you get tired and want to give up?  What happens when you have a hard day and it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore?  So many people just throw in the towel.

I’ve been contemplating this with my life.  I’m in a hard place of living a state away from my immediate family.  I miss my children.  I miss my husband.  I want to restore my marriage.  But it’s not going to happen over night.  My husband is in the driver’s seat there.  If he commits himself to sobriety, we have a shot at getting past all of the hurts and pain.  But so far the longest he’s been able to go is a month.  And I get really excited when he’s on a roll.  I start to dream of our future life together.  And am filled with hope.  Then he falls and I’m deflated.

I wonder how long we can last in that cycle.  A balloon can only be blown up so many times before it loses its elasticity, gets thin and pops.  I don’t want to fail.  Is that pride?  Some have suggested so…

All I know is that he and I are in this for the long haul.  And it’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s the LONG HAUL.

Sprints are usually ran on a very clean. regulation track.  A sprint isn’t run cross-country because when you run fast there can’t be ANY obstacles in the way – or else you will fall.  Obstacles take time to jump over or maneuver around.  A sprinter has no time for unforeseen obstacles.

In high school I ran hurdles.  Those obstacles were trained for and expected.  You had to run that race like a choreographed dance.  My legs were so short I had to five-step.  That means each time I went over a hurdle I had to use my opposite leg.  I’m fairly ambidextrous by nature and found this to be easy.  What was not easy though was hitting the last hurdle and realizing the set up was all wrong and that last hurdle was actually one more step away than it should have been.  I went to leap on my fifth step and I went crashing down into the gravel and still have the scar on my knee.  No. Sprinters have to run on autopilot.

But the long haul will have many unforeseen obstacles.  Things will happen along the way to slow you down.  You can even fall in a ditch head first.  But that doesn’t have to mean failure. It’s a bump in the road. It’s something that has to be overcome so you can keep going.  You only fail if you quit.

I have days when I’m full of hope and really excited about what the future will hold.  I have days where I’m ok being alone and turn on the tunes while I sing karaoke in the bathtub just because I’m alone and I can.  Or hours reading a book quietly on my balcony because I literally have nothing else better to do.  And other days, the minutes creep by like hours and I’m a blob on the couch wondering when this time in purgatory will end.  Days when I feel wrecked with fear because I don’t know if my husband will make it into a sober world and live there with me.

It’s this ebb and flow of determination, drive, and the opposite reaction to that which is fear and trepidation.  We are human.  And as far as examples go…we can only keep trying to be loving, forgiving, kind, and patient with each other as Christ would want.  When the enemy starts winning by throwing his flaming arrows of discouragement and doubt we need to combat that for each other with encouragement and reminders that God has already won this for us.  He has gone before us and all we have to do is claim this victory, walk in the victory, and NOT give up.

But it’s not easy because the battle is real.  For goodness sake we are defying modern logic trying to save a marriage this way.  Are we crazy?  Maybe.  If we succeed will it be worth it?  Undeniably.

So I just have to keep reminding myself that this is not a sprint.  This weekend my pastor said the Bible tells us to walk in the spirit not run.  When we walk we give ourselves the chance to catch ourselves when we feel like we are falling.  Walking allows time to reflect, to respond, and to notice what is around us as we go.

Truly the only option for us is to walk.  We can’t defy time.  Growth happens minute by minute, day by day, week by week.  And if we don’t enjoy the journey we will miss out on the joys God has for us all in this life.

If you haven’t seen the movie “About Time” please watch it TONIGHT.  It does such a good job of showing how the worries we have in this life can cause us to really miss out on the joys of the journey…EVEN the ones that are hard.  EVEN the ones with obstacles.  EVEN the ones that take seemingly forever to accomplish.

And no matter what keep looking for the good in every one of your journeys.  Keep looking to grow.

Yesterday I celebrated the fact that I cleaned my bathroom.  No one was coming over, I just realized that for me, I deserved having a spic and span bathroom.  And then I smiled at the polished silver and mirrors.  It was something sweet that I could smile about despite bad news that was coming from home.  That was my good for the day.  That got me to the next day.  And one day I will look back on this long journey and I hope I will be able to smile sweetly at what the Lord taught me through it.

It is my prayer and my hope.  And this makes  me think how grateful I am to God for giving us TIME to get things right in our lives.  If our lives were a sprint, think of how many of us would fail?  Long races have more room for missteps, falls, and setbacks.  Perhaps in his infinite wisdom…of course, He knew this.  And this journey that we often curse…is really God’s greatest gift to us.

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