And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn
Florence + The Machine, Shake it Out
When I was a little girl you would often find me hiding in the tree in our backyard–reading. I loved reading so much–it was like I could escape to a different world, a different time, a different me. But when a book got too intense, I would skip to the final pages to see what was going to happen. Because I’ve never been a person who likes surprises–I like to know what’s going to happen in advance. I like to be prepared–and even then, as a little girl I wanted to know, was I going to cry? Laugh? Mourn the loss of a beloved character? I wanted to prepare my heart for what was to come.
I’m in the final days before my first 100 mile race. Race doesn’t quite feel like the right word–because I will not be racing anyone. Not the other couple hundred runners. Not even myself. Because my only goal is to finish it–knowing I will be moving at a snail’s pace at some points–walking will be a must–no, race isn’t quite the right word. I’m in the final days before my first 100 mile test of will. Because what it comes down to is: Do I have the will power to cross the finish line? Will my body stay strong and injury free for 100 miles? And the truth is, I don’t know.
The ghouls have come out to play. They’ve been here for a while, and at first I chose to ignore them. Fear, worry, doubt, the You Can’t Do This-monster, the You Aren’t Strong Enough-demon, the voice that whispers to me: It’s going to hurt so much–they are all here. Dancing around in my head and my heart.
And the little girl in me wishes I could skip to the end of the book–to take a quick peek to see, what is going to happen? Will my heart be shattered? Will I cross the finish line that means so much more than getting a belt buckle? From the lessons I hope it teaches my children: That in order to chase a dream you must put in the hard work. And that despite what Oprah tells you, Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it– No. Sometimes in life you can give your all. Your best. And sometimes, it simply isn’t enough. But that isn’t where the story has to end. Sometimes it just means take a different route, set a new goal.
I’ve been training for 6 months but really, it’s been longer than that. I’ve been training a lifetime for this–from all those times I chose not to give up as a little girl, a young adult, a wife, a mother, a runner. Each moment in my life where I chose to go on, when all I wanted to do was give in–each and every moment has strengthened my heart and will and I know, I can do hard things.
And in this lifetime of training there have been moments where I have given up, taken a different path than the one I started out on, where I didn’t have the ending I had hoped for. But this lifetime of lessons has taught me so much–that the hardest moments, the saddest of endings, can make us so much stronger than we were when we started out. Those disappointing endings have come with the reminder that I am loved no matter what—not because of what I do or accomplish, simply because I am loved.
This is what I remind myself. When I get overwhelmed. Overstimulated. Over it. When I start to feel like I’m treading water in life rather than swimming with the current. The part of me that fought the current and eventually began to swim with it–that small part of me whispers: You can do hard things. You are loved, no matter what.
Women are doing it all around me. Braving the hard things in their lives. With strength and love.
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off
So instead of resisting the devils on my back, I open my arms and let them in for a bit. Because they are part of this journey. But eventually, I must let them go, so I shake them off and remind myself: I wouldn’t have signed up for this race if I didn’t think I had the heart to give it my all. And while I may not know the ending of this story, the biggest lesson I have learned is we are not meant to do life alone. I will lean on Him. My family. My friends. And all those who believe in me. And now? The unknown ending doesn’t seem so scary. I will wait for it to come and forever treasure this chapter in my life.
Never Give Up,
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