(please excuse me if this seems like a much wordier version of “My Bracelet is an Oxymoron,” this is what I wrote for a class assignment).
Should it worry me that it seems common for people to ask me that question?
When my wife and I were engaged, the pastor who was about to perform our wedding asked us that question. I should explain that I have 5 kids and she has 5 kids and at that time, 9 of those 10 were going to be in the home with us. You could probably understand the question. I have to think there are times still though that she has to ask herself that very question.
The good news is that most of the kids have moved out now and she still puts up with me, so it seems to have gone pretty well.
Then, when a friend of mine found out I was training for a half marathon, he asked the same question.
He’s a pastor too.
I’m not sure which should concern me more: the fact that I’m getting asked that question so much, or the fact that pastors are the ones asking that question?
Our first assignment in class is to answer the same question. Maybe he didn’t quite use those words, though I do have a faint memory of it coming out that way. Not sure if I remember it that way because he really said it that way or because I have asked myself that so many times that my memory has blurred. I think his question was more simple: “Why are you doing this?” I’m thinking that when it comes to a nearly 50 year old 330 plus pound guy, the original question seems more fitting.
However you phrase it, it’s a good question. It’s one that makes me dig a bit deeper into my psyche. You would think that with me here constantly flaunting my psyche all over the place in a blog, digging into my psyche isn’t that difficult, right? The truth is I like to control which parts of my psyche I flaunt.
So what the hell AM I thinking? I think I’m thinking I want my 30’s back. And most of my 40’s, and probably more of my 20’s than I want to admit. Here I am, a month away from my 50th birthday, and so maybe it’s just me trying to get back to my 20’s again?
Wow. This is looking like one big mid-life crisis.
I don’t think so (or is that denial?). There’s more to it all really, stuff that comes down to these two lines I have on this running bracelet I wear:
Remember the Rain.
The Philippians 3:13 points to this verse “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Kinda makes you think the Apostle Paul (who wrote this) was a runner at some point in his life, doesn’t it?
So let me try to tie this all in with that comment earlier about getting my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. If you haven’t seen the video of Heather Dorniden wiping out in the Big 10 track meet and then getting up and storming from way behind to win, you need to see it. This is what I mean about getting those years back.
I’ll explain. (Finally, you say). I progressed (regressed?) into a very sedentary life in my twenties. In High School I could run 2 miles in 12 minutes. By my junior year in college I couldn’t complete a 1-mile run for basketball practice. I haven’t been able to run that far since (well, not until a couple years ago). I went from being too skinny to be allowed to participate in contact sports in high school, to gaining a tremendous amount of weight through my 20’s and 30’s. My overall outlook in life seemed to follow, where I viewed my life through my failures and beat myself up pretty regularly over this that and the other thing. It’s like that’s the point where I got knocked down. Okay, that’s twenty some years, I guess I was just really slow getting up.
Somewhere along the line I came to rediscover faith: particularly to understand grace and to really believe God is there to give us life, not to beat us down in it. That began a real, albeit slow, transformation for me. Many good things have happened since including getting my relationship back with my kids, finding an amazing wife, and beginning to see ahead to the kinds of things I want to be in life. That’s all part of my getting back up and storming back into the race. That’s where I think that verse really fits in to the analogy, that instead of being held down by what’s in the past I’m leaving that behind and pressing (pressing, storming, it’s all good) towards what is ahead.
So it’s not really this midlife crisis of trying to be young again. It’s more that this being knocked down is where those years of my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s went. I’m back on my feet now and I’m moving ahead. There is a reality that hits when you are approaching 50. I’ve read some things lately that the real key in moving forward is to stay active physically, stay active mentally, and have a sense of purpose. This is part of that. Honestly, I don’t dread 50. I find myself embracing it. Bring it on. This half marathon is part of that. I’m doing something here that even at 20 I couldn’t begin to imagine. It’s setting my sights on something ahead and going forward to prove to myself that I can do it. It’s my way of forgetting what’s behind, of not being defeated by where I’ve been in life, and it’s my way of pressing on towards what lies ahead.
So that’s the verse on the bracelet. The Remember the Rain is the answer to a second question on the assignment: what will keep me going when I’m not sure I can keep going? I wrote in the beginning of this blog about the time when I was walking in utter defeat to my car in a downpour because I could not muster up whatever I needed to muster to be able to run and get out of the rain. I’ll never forget that feeling, and I don’t ever want to forget it because I never want to be there again. Remembering the Rain and how it felt is the thing that will keep me going.