When You Decide to Stop Taking the Easy Way (Part I)

One month shy of my 43rd birthday, I did something I’ve never done before. Ever. Like, in my whole life.

I ran a race. An official 5K, with thousands of other people. And I actually ran the race (well, jogged—but in my world, the two are the same). And I actually finished. Not in record time, but under 40 minutes, which was good enough to put me almost in the top half of participants.

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I go to a church of marathon runners. On any given Sunday, if the pastor asked the congregation how many had run some kind of ridiculously long race, hands would go up all over the place. These are the kind of people who have as their life verse the one about running the race, keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus, with the great cloud of witnesses cheering them on. You know the one I’m talking about.

Let me be clear. I am not one of them. My favorite part of that passage is the phrase about God being the author and finisher (or “editor,” as I like to think of it) of my faith. (I’m a writer, not a runner. Of course that would be my favorite part.)

Let me clarify some more, in case you’re not getting this. I don’t run races. I have a bad foot. I’m slow. I don’t like to run outside. I’m afraid of doing things I don’t think I can do.

Ouch. Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. The uncomfortable story behind the story, so to speak. It wasn’t just all those physical limitations that have kept me from doing something I’ve always wanted to do.

It was fear.

It’s silly, really, this tendency of mine to avoid hard things. Silly, but life-long.

It’s not like I’ve never done anything difficult. I was an honors student in high school and college. I’ve written two books published by bona fide publishers. I completed the paperwork that resulted in two successful international adoptions. None of that was rocket science, but it did take considerable effort.

But too often, I took the easy way. I made decisions about what I was and wasn’t going to do based on whether or not I thought I could do it. And if it seemed too hard—if I didn’t think I could—I didn’t.

It’s something I’ve been forced to admit to myself and to others lately. It’s come into sharper focus for me as I observe people in my house who do not shy away from hard things, who do not give up at the first sign of struggle, who do not allow fear to rule. I greatly admire these dear ones who possess such tenacity, even as it exposes a character flaw in me.

But here’s the thing. There’s something about this incriminating piece of self awareness that literally explodes me into action: the thought that my daughters might pick up this debilitating pattern from me.

Not on my watch. Not if I can help it.

It’s not about me and my fears anymore. It’s about them.

So when my younger daughter Molly recruited me to participate in her school running club last fall, I could hardly say no.

There’s more to this story…look for Part II later this week.

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photo credit: Noeluap via photopin cc


6 Responses to When You Decide to Stop Taking the Easy Way (Part I)

  1. Lois, you did it! I began running nearly 4 years ago, and I had a huge fear of failure. I’m still SLOW, but I keep plodding along because of all the things running has brought to my life (great friendships, for one).

    I completely identify with your fear of doing things you may fail at. (Guilty here.) Through our weaknesses, He shows His strength!

    I’m so glad you started a blog and are willing to be open about your fears and foibles. I look forward to reading more and reconnecting. I’ve missed you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Suzy, I run mostly on the treadmill these days, and I’m still slow too. But you are so right: When we are weak, He makes us strong. So glad for that! And so glad you are here.

  2. kristen kreie says:

    Hi Lois…its Krissi Ebeck or Kristen Kreie, one in the same. Great blog! Congrats.

  3. Mary McCully says:

    First, let me say that being afraid is not a character flaw in you, my friend! I won’t accept that. I propose changing that to the opposite: brave. Sometimes being afraid launches us into challenges we never thought we could do! I speak from experience. Here is my list:

    Waterskiing – 3 years to get up on skis! Shortly befiree I stopped skiing, a was able to slalom (one ski)!

    Snow skiing – from first chair lift to heights I never thought I could handle; I skied down a mountain run that looked insurmountable. Never got beyond green runs but considered that great success for me!

    Running: Never thought I could run more than a block. Started with a block and through the months and years, almost completed a half marathon ! By age 42, I was running 5 -7 miles on the weekend.

    Now, can’t run any longer at age 72. So I have mounted a bike! Oh, goodness, how much courage it took to get on that thing after 20 years! Afraid? Sometimes…like tight turns and tunnels and big hills. Once again, have learned so much! (Balance, turns, timely shifting of gears, no shortcuts through grass!)

    I love the challenge and realize how unfragile I really am!

    All of these AFRAIDS have turned from just that to CHALLENGES.

    What wonderful opportunities to thank God for body, soul, and mind that carries me through each one. What wonderful opportunities to praise Him as I go! And, we learn so many things about people and His creation that we would not know had we not stepped out!

    Keep going, Lois! We are so proud of you, and so will your girls!

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