How many of us want something right now, without the chore of having to wait or struggle for it? Have you ever given up on a dream because it will just take too long or you feel like you aren’t making any progress? Our society grants us so much instant gratification and when results are delayed, discouragement sets in.
I’ve always loved the saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I now begin the task of eating another elephant.
This week I started grad school, and I’m already second guessing my decision to obtain my master’s in Construction Management. Thoughts like “It’s going to take so long,” “It will cost too much,” “I don’t think I can do this” resound though my head.
Having achieved my bachelor’s last year, it now feels like I’ve hit the reset button, like it’s a do-over. This time it seems more daunting. I have to go at a slower pace due to memory, concentration and pain issues with my anti-cancer meds. The side effects come and go, and I find it frustrating. I want to dive in and chase this degree with the same intensity as the last one. The mountain seems higher this time.
Some of you face your own mountains. Maybe life’s been hard lately. Don’t give up, even if you have nobody there to cover your back and you’re all alone.
Let me relay a story:
My boss participates in Spartan races. These are obstacle races that are anywhere from 3 to 26 miles long. At one race that he participated in last year, the course was around 10 miles long. It happened to have rained heavily the night before. At these Spartan races, they release the competitors in waves, based on age and gender, and my boss’s heat was one of the last ones to go.
My boss told me that at about 2-3 miles into the race, there was this colossal, steep hill. Because of the heavy rains and due to all the competitors that had ran in the heats before his, this hill had turned into a muddy, sloppy mess. My boss and others tried to run up it during their race, but they couldn’t, it was too slick, and they all kept sliding back, making no headway. It didn’t seem like they would get past this challenge.
The only way they could make any progress was by crawling, grabbing at sticks or rocks, what grass was left, or by just clawing into the ground. By the time they made it to the top of the hill, they were covered in mud, bruised and battered, with fingernails broken, and knees bloodied from the struggle. They persisted in going up that hill, knowing there would be more obstacles beyond, because this was fairly early in the race.
In the end, my boss never gave up and he finished the race. It certainly wasn’t his best time, but he was determined to finish what he started, and happy to have completed the challenge.
Sometimes life is a lot like that Spartan race. We don’t make much progress and we’re on our knees grasping at anything, desperate, just trying to make it through that part of life. Don’t give up, don’t settle for the mediocre. In the end, that patience, persistence, and struggle pays off. You are only racing against yourself, so just hang in there a little longer and you’ll make it.
Right now, as I begin school, I’m tired and I just want to quit already, and sink into nothingness. And for me, my new race has just begun. Gifted with a stubborn streak, even when knocked to the floor, I still crawl towards my goals. Yeah, I may lie there for awhile, but eventually I’ll continue to creep forward, despite the difficulties.
Eph 5:16 states: Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days.
How I look at that verse is this: Run your race (patiently) toward those things that your heart desires. Don’t give up. We live in an evil world with distractions and temptations that can waste your time and keep you from the finish line.
Many of us won’t cross the finish line in our various races in life with our fastest time. Maybe we’ll have to crawl while others run. Some people may finish their races easily, while some of us are battered, bruised and bloodied at the end. Despite delays and setbacks, if we persist, we will have the gratification of knowing that we tackled our mountains and eventually finished what we started.
Come, my friends, let’s feast upon some elephant.