I’ve got a problem– I lack the ability to properly pace myself. It’s astonishing that after years of competitive athletics I haven’t mastered this technique. Physically when I’m in great shape I don’t seem to really acknowledge the issue. However, the evidences of a lack of pace in my life surround my day to day activities.
On todays run I found myself going from gut busting ridiculously ambitious speeds to an embarrassingly and dramatically slow one within seconds. You see, sometimes my brain gets a bit ahead of the physical ability of my legs in their current condition. I take off feeling like I’m in a much more desirable shape then I really am, hold the pace until I’m fatigued, and then crash and revert to what feels not much more efficient then a walk.
The thing is, as I went through this speed pattern today I was reminded I tend to live my life the same way. And not just life, I mean, I do it when I eat too. Usually at the movie theatre I order a large buttered popcorn because you get “free refills”. (Is it really free when I just paid a ridiculous $8 for a tub of popcorn– errr don’t get me started!) If I get there early enough to catch the previews I plop down in my seat, recline back and go to work on that popcorn by the handful. Shamefully I eat my popcorn as if I’m starving, when the reality is the movie usually is immediately after dinner. I just can’t help myself! It’s there teasing me with all its buttery soaked goodness and I have to indulge. A few minutes in to the movie I head back to capitalize on my refill. Halfway through the refill my tummy starts to churn from all the butter and I realize that perhaps I should have paced myself better. Ever been there/done that?
I do the same thing with dessert, which I absolutely loathe. It’s actually quite unfair. I try to take the time to appreciate it but taking little bites of something so savory takes much more self control then I can often muster. Somedays it feels like I watch my calories and eat conservatively all day, but when a dessert is in front of me I inhale it. The problem is, I just can’t pace myself!
In life I battle the same weakness. When working on a business project I can’t seem to spread out the obligations and time commitments over several days or weeks. I become consumed with it until it’s done, often missing sleep or precious moments with my kids because I am pre-occupied. Take right now for example, I started writing this before dinner and I should really stop right now and feed the hungry whiners. However, because I can’t pace myself– I’m going to finish. (smile)
As I raise my kids I realize most of my days are spent all out successful or ridden with mommy guilt and failure. There are few days spent in-between. I am either charging through the tasks of juggling housework, playing with the kids, preparing meals, bedtime, etc at high and efficient speeds or failing miserably as I fall behind. I’m pretty certain life isn’t meant to be lived this way.
I understand there will be times when circumstances and commitments will require me to sprint through days at a time. But I also believe that a much more peaceful way to live would be in finding a comfortable pace, an acceptable balance so that I can enjoy the “run” and stay consistent. I’ve found I am happiest when I’m running at regular intervals– physically, spiritually and metaphorically. Life isn’t meant to always be taken at peak speed and when I attempt it before I’m ready I usually end up exhausted and miserable.
As I was running today I also thought a bit about my spiritual inconsistency. There are times when I am excited about what God’s doing and willing to follow Him regardless of the costs. In those moments I find I am sprinting ahead before I am really trained, capable and prepared. Those spontaneous sprints usually are followed by moments where my eyes are on my own circumstances and I get absolutely exhausted. My pace is ineffective and to be honest at times I just want to quit! I realize I need to live my spiritual life a bit more evenly paced too.
The thought that came to me today was how Jesus is very literally my running buddy. At times in my life I get stuck in contentment and complacency and He will gently help me bump up the pace. But– if I don’t keep up, He doesn’t just go dashing ahead of me! (thank goodness!) Then there are those sprinting moments, and even though He knows maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, He stays by my side and runs alongside me. I’m thankful to know even when I can’t seem to “find the pace” that I always have someone willing to run with me.