when you're running a lousy race

I've been sulking, just a little. Pouting, a tiny bit. Yesterday, someone that I truly love and who truly loves me simply asked, "Could you just choose not to be grumpy?" And in that moment I couldn't, or I didn't feel like I could. I'm feeling the strain of a long run, carrying too much with too little for too long. 

Today as I speculated about the size of my laundry pile, I cursed myself for letting it get so out of control. Then I was reminded that part of the reason it was so big was that I thought I'd have last weekend to sort it out and conquer it easily. But with a last minute change of plans, I ended up riding shotgun in a Honda Odyssey headed for beautiful Colorado. And so the list of things that were on the agenda for the weekend are still there- on that list and in those piles. 

As I regarded the laundry, a funny little internal dialogue came about, as if Hope and Despair were conversing right in my own mind. It went something like this:

Hope: Well, its just laundry. One load at a time and it will be done.
Despair: Sort of. I mean, its never really done.
Hope: Still, the end is in sight. 
Despair: The end of what? There is no end to it. The finish line is not the bottom of the laundry basket. There will always be more laundry.
Hope: Shut up.
Despair: No, you shut up.

That's basically how it ended. A toss up, I guess. 

Still, as I piled laundry into a basket and began to haul it downstairs, an important thought struck me. This season of my life is not really about a finish line, not defined by completing tasks in any permanent way. Success isn't about how close or far I am to the finish line- its about how I'm running.

My attitude...am I gracious, graceful, grace-filled?

My posture...am I humble, serving, selfish, willing, aware of anyone else running beside me?

My health...am I rested, caring well for myself, drinking deeply of Living Water?

My stride...am I pacing myself well, thinking of the long haul, running with the end in mind while keeping the present at heart?

Some days I think, "I just want it to be over." Whatever it is (the day or the homeschool morning or the season of toddlers or conflict with others)- it is never conquered best by counting down to the end. Though it is wise to keep the end in mind (goals or values or the vision of what I'm striving for), you cannot only keep the end in mind. You have to run for the present.

And most of all, I fall prey to the idea that the point of this whole race is to finish it. That idea is as ridiculous as saying that the point of writing a book is to fill pages with words. Its not the word count or the magic "The End" that matters, it is the story that is lived in those pages that matters. So here I am, in my own story, trying to find joy in the current chapter. 

Its a funny thing, how these daily attempts to live the most mundane life have cosmic consequences for my soul. To do the little things with grace, to survive the dailiness with it's laundry and dishes and lost library books and dusty windowsills. And somewhere in all that, to be found smiling on little people and singing at the breakfast bar and laughing at silliness- who would have thought that would be the great challenge of my days?

But it is. 

I've decided to put down some things I'm carrying, to maybe walk a mile or two, to find a pace where little feet can skip beside me instead of be dragged along. I don't know what that means, really. I don't have the faintest idea of what to give up or give away or give in to. But I do know that I'm tired of pushing for a finish line that keeps pushing right on with me. I want to stop the notion of finishing and embrace the call to just run well

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