For the last 6 months I have been training for the Marine Corp Marathon which will be held in DC on October 26, 2014. My training has included a lot of ups and downs. As I was zipping past the MLK and Lincoln memorials, I realized that there were a ton of parallel moments between running and our faith journey. Below I have listed 5 things you must know about your faith journey.
Trust that your journey will be a successful one
Looking at my 18 week training schedule, I thought to myself, “how in the world will I be able to run 4 times a week, log tons of miles and still have enough energy to do complete a marathon?” I really just had to take a risk and have faith that the training would work.
The first and most difficult step in a faith journey is trusting the process. When we embark on new territory we may be fearful or discouraged by what will be needed to achieve our goal. In this stage, we must simply take a risk and trust the risk we are taking. No matter what the challenge is know that God is with you and you will make it towards your goal.
Don’t look back
When I was training with groups I would often look back to see who was behind me and how far away they were. No matter what, every time I looked back I would stumble on my steps. When we are moving towards a goal, looking back at our past situation will only distract us from moving forward, causing us to stumble on steps in front of us. For example, if you are embarking on a new career or a new relationship, focusing on your past hurts or challenges in those arenas can place a halt to the work or situation that really needs your attention. Leave what’s behind you behind you and continue to take steps forward without looking back.
Pay close attention to the steps in front of you
When I run, I like to focus on a point far away which provides a distraction for all of the things I’m passing around me. I thought that this would provide a distraction for all of the steps I was taking to get to that far away point. This strategy was going good until I tripped so bad- as if I slipped on a banana peel. Splat! I hit the ground hard. After I dusted myself off I began to run focusing on that point again and then SPLAT! I hit the deck literally like 20 steps later. I realized I had to a pay close attention to the steps directly in front of me.
In your faith journey it is guaranteed that there will be bumps in the road. If you are looking too far ahead you are liable to trip and fall on your face. Pay close attention to the steps directly in front of you so you can see those bumps, prepare to brace yourself or even better, prepare to leap over them.
Run your own race do not try to keep up with those around you
I am competitive, so it is natural for me to try to outdo someone, especially in sport activities. As I have been training though, I realize that it is not wise for me to try to outdo those around me or even overexert myself to keep up with their pace. It never failed, whenever I would run too fast I would eventually have to stop and those who I thought I was competing with kept moving.
You are on a journey with God. Although people are moving in the same direction around you, you must realize that their journey is not the same as yours. Those around you may even have the same goals as you but your steps (including the time it takes) to get there will be very different. Run your own race never try to keep up with the Jones.
There will be ups and downs, despite the downs keep going
I have experienced everything in training over the last few months. I’ve had a mental breakdown almost to the point of tears during a 12 mile run which had been my longest to date. I have bruises just from the wear and tear on my feet. I have considered quitting multiple times. I’ve had horrible runs where I’ve caught spasms causing me to stop. Despite all of the struggles I can feel myself getting stronger, and my faith in my ability to finish this race is getting stronger. The bad situations during this journey have made some of my runs remarkably easy. I can never know what will happen on any given day but despite whether my previous run was terrible or great I will keep taking steps towards my goals.
It is a guaranteed that during your faith journey you will face ups and downs and feel like quitting. Despite that cycle, continue to walk with God one step at a time towards your goal. You will be surprised that the tough times you faced at some point on the journey will at times make upcoming obstacles seem easy to overcome. You have made it this far, KEEP GOING!