Monday, January 10, 2011

Livin' on a Prayer

My husband brings me a cute little pink 13.1 magnet signifying to the world, or at least those I pass in my car, that I am a half marathon runner.

Beaming as he holds the pink car magnet, he intends to thrill me. His thoughtful generosity meets my blank stare with a sarcastic sigh.

Why should I be proud of running a half marathon, I ask aloud. Completing a half marathon is bittersweet as I had planned to run a full marathon this year until cancer interrupted my training.

My husband launches into the stats: Based on the fact that 1% of the population has run a marathon and twice as many running the half on our race day, maybe 2% of the population has completed a half marathon. I should be proud to be among 2% of the population. The pep talk bandages my wound as I savor the pre-race moment; we both know I’ll finish.

His report stirs something deep in my soul. No matter how much I accomplish, it is never enough. The thought twirls through my mind as I bee bop the first mile of the race, Bon Jovi crooning in my head. Whooah we’re halfway there…

Never satisfied with my own accomplishments, I always expect more even when at mile three I think I might freeze to death. The thought permeates my sweat-soaked head at mile six when I’m not sure I even want to finish and as my wind-stiffened knees walk toward my finisher’s medal the thought is still there.

Behind the hype of finishing, I wonder why it isn’t enough.

This revelation shapes my current goals and causes me to lighten up on myself and release grandiose ideals.  Writing for at least an hour a day, completing one organizing project each week or doing anything outside the scope of mothering on any given day even though most of my children are in school are lofty resolutions of the past. Today I mother my children, care for my family and take care of my recovering body as I spend time with my Jesus. Writing, cleaning, training for a marathon are all bonuses. As freeing as the truth can be, it also hurts.

Running a half marathon is hard. I rail at the thought. Being my own harshest critic, I want to not only run a full marathon, I want it to be easy and I want to enjoy it. This thought that the half is not enough and it is so difficult dashes my hope. Hard truth slams into my soul.

Running a marathon is hard.

Recovering from cancer is harder. I want to wake up the day after treatment and start life right where it paused. Since this time last year, trying to get everything back to normal is my goal.  Yet one reality stares me in the face—things are anything but normal.

My goal morphs into creating a new normal. This normal includes a mom who is weary and forgetful, a more relaxed house and some really early bedtimes.

As my car sports my new magnet, I realize something big. I need to lighten up, have realistic expectations, be happy with baby steps and celebrate every mile marker even if I need to rest at one a bit.

A fellow cancer survivor encourages me to give myself an entire year before I expect to feel normal again. This advice inspires me to walk slowly instead of racing toward the future. Now when I think of that half marathon, I get excited because it means I’m half way there. I hear God singing,  Woooah we’re half way there livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear—livin’ on a prayer.


Mining for Diamonds said...

I can relate to a lot of those feelings of high expectations and "never enough". I get like that when I play violin...perfectionism can be a curse sometimes! I met another fellow violinist who just really moved me by her total joy and abandon at playing...such freedom, even when she made mistakes! And yet such excellence! I discovered I was missing out on the sheer JOY of the music, by getting so bogged down in whether or not it was "perfect". Lesson learned!

I bet we are very close to the same personality type. When I discovered my type, I learned SO much about myself. Those who are "idealistic" (which is the category I'm in)tend to be very hard on ourselves and demand perfection and have high expectations. God has had to do some major adjusting in me these last few years of releasing some things that are not perfect or as I think they should be in order for me to feel at peace and balance. I pray that you find much joy, peace, and freedom in your "new normal!" said...

I think you're onto something here!

I used to feel so down when I didn't accomplish what I set out for myself. I even would read my Bible for X amount of minutes and kept watching the clock to be sure I'd done the full time... probably missed most of what I was supposed to be learning! :)

Really, when you look at Jesus and how He lived his life on earth, He never rushed around in my kind of frenzy. He is still our example.

I have to have goals too, I would be a little lost without them, but how those goals fit into "Be still and know that I am God", and other such verses... that's my challenge and probably yours too.

Being aware of that, and the pitfalls of 'too much'... those are important things to realize, and help us to form new goals that may be more real. Balance... in all things. Sometimes I love that word, other times it is a life changing challenge!

Good for you!

Emily said...

This is a very touching post that I think so many of us can relate to. I think most women are too hard on themselves and have higher expectations of ourselves than anyone else.

One day I was talking to a friend who was lamenting she couldn't do it all. "What is my problem?" She asked. I asked her, if I were saying the exact same thing to her and listing out all the stuff I had to do, and that I couldn't get it all done, would she ask me what my problem is? She said, "No, I'd tell you to relax. You've got 4 little kids, a husband, a home, and a life to live." So I said all of those things back to her. And now, I'm trying to take my own advice. If my friend called me and said all of the things I think to myself, what would I say to them? And I try then to say it to myself. Thanks for the reminder!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I think you're doing great... what an inspiration! I am a runner as well, but haven't in 4 months, almost 5. I just can't, but I will, and seeing what you've accomplished here makes me want to do the same.

I'll just be happy to keep pace with my kids again. 4 miles will be fine with me.

Keep to it, sister. Keep to your healing. Thanks for letting me into your world.


Melanie said...

I get it but still...I ran a 1/2 marathon a few years ago and I still feel good about it...even though it wasn't the 26.2.
Remember "don't be talkin' ugly to yourself."
I'll bet you would cheer me on and be "proud" of me if I ran another 1/2. Extend that same graciousness to yourself...the wife of your husband, the mother of your friend!

Melanie said...

Actually, in re-reading your post, it looks like you have already started the "grace to yourself" part. Yay!

achildoftheking said...

Lisa, this is mind blowing. I love how God is working in you and how HE's using you.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

I also have another blog that may bless you: It's fairly new. But, through my trials, God is using me. One day I'm going to make it to a She Speaks conference.

HE's my pilot. I go where He goes.

Praise HIM!

Elizabeth said...

Dude, you beat cancer! What percent of the population can say that?? I love you too much to see you put yourself down like that. On the flip side, your relentless pursuit of the next big thing reveals how God created you to seek Him supremely. He is the best. And He gives the best to those He loves. I thank God I'm blessed to see the love He has for you both in you and in how you love others. Thank you for being the selfless servant you are to your family, your community, and your God. I love you, sweet friend.

Kim said...

Oh, Lisa,
I can so relate. Sometimes reviewing my to do list would make me tired. I used to pride myself in all that I could get done in a if I make it through work and come home for a walk and still be singing praises to is a good day! I am two years into my journey with cancer and still battle the fatigue...but taking comfort of this time to just rest in Him!
Congrats on your 1/2 marathon!

LisaShaw said...


Thanks for sharing your heart sis...I'm praying for you as the LORD's hand is with you and I think it's awesome you ran a 1/2 marathon!

Praying all GOD's best over you!

Love you.

Unknown said...

I can relate -- I remember standing in line at the packet pick up for my second half-marathon, thinking wow, look at all those people doing the full. I should be able to do that. What a slacker I am.

So, the next year, I did the marathon. And I think, wow, there are people that do extreme running --like 45 miles, or IronMans, or....

See, I realized that if I continue down this path, of never doing enough, I will never have joy. I will never be satisfied. Somehow, I have to learn to do what God has asked me to do and let the rest go.

I mean, really, 45 miles? Come on! :)

So glad you came today. You completely blessed me!

Amy Sullivan said...

So glad you hooked up with Jen and the girls today. I've been to your place a number of times, and always enjoy your posts.

I am so hard on myself so this post totally hits home.

Tiffini said...

YOU inspire me...I can't even wrap my head around having cancer. Yet - there you are getting up each day and a mama and wife...working through the hard things...You are amazing. You are brave. Grace...xoxo

Sandy @ The Scoop on Balance said...

I love what Elizabeth said: "Dude, you beat cancer! What percent of the population can say that??"

What more can I say that has not already been said through e-mails, my blog and the other comments? I'm just so glad we are walking this pace together this year.

And I love you.

Natalie at Mommy on Fire said...

Oh, Lisa. Such sweet wisdom.

Yes, your hubs is correct - 2% is a small number and yet I hear your pain in the interrupted plan.

I love your heart in recognizing that it is indeed about baby steps, baby steps...

You are running a marathon though it may not be the one you had intended to run right now.

Which will make when you DO run that full marathon someday even sweeter...

Still praying for you...