Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
We were actually pretty stunned.
JT and I. My running partner.
We ran the Chosen Marathon/Half-Marathon yesterday, an event that raises money for international adoption. The funds raised through the race are given to families who are in the process of adopting internationally to help offset the astronomical costs involved. We ran it last year, before JT and her husband AT brought their adopted son home from Ethiopia. And we ran again this year, celebrating that their son is now a part of all our lives.
Back to the stunned part.
Training for last year's race, we used a 10 week, arduous schedule. I carefully printed off the schedule, marking each training event with a little check as I completed it, keeping track of mileage and times and days. Last year's race was tough. We were well-conditioned, but we hadn't run the course before. The weather was warm and muggy. We were still figuring out our hydration and nutrition.
But we finished with a good time.
Training for the race this year was more difficult. We used the same schedule, a familiar cadence keeper to our goal. But this summer was much, much hotter. We pushed jogging strollers for several of the training days with squirmy preschoolers, making the hills even harder. Some of our longest runs we had to complete without each other, travel schedules and failed transmissions upsetting our calendars. There were a few boxes on our training schedules that just didn't get checked. There was the longest run before the race when I was running sick and our time was terrible. There were the challenges of JT's newly bigger family, kids in more activities, commitments and events squeezing our training into little boxes of time. Our goal this year was just to finish, to enjoy the run, to celebrate adoptive families.
So we were stunned. Stunned when we chopped several minutes off of last year's time. Stunned when we realized that we had run much faster than last year, felt better and each still had energy to go on to have full days yesterday. Stunned. I suppose in some ways we felt we hadn't 'earned' it this year, hadn't checked off all those little training boxes with the same kind of perfection as last year.
But we had race grace.
We weren't just training this year. We were building on the experience of previous years, of the years we've run together and the years before we knew each other. We were building on the experience of having done this very difficult race course the year before. We were building on the disciplines and challenges and nutrition and hydration wisdom we had learned.
Kind of like life.
Kind of like faith.
There are challenges and seasons that, looking at it on the map, seem overwhelming, particularly when we aren't sure we're up for it. We have seasons of daily Bible reading, powerful prayer, perfect church attendance. We feel that we've earned the strides we make. But then there are those seasons that we try but we feel we fall short.
But the beauty of diligence and consistency, outside of perfection, the daily attempt, the continued training, even when the schedule doesn't seem to qualify you for teacher's pet, is that it builds. It still builds. It's the little efforts, the short runs, the training that isn't so gorgeous and the day when all seems right~it all still builds.
I got a taste of that kind of grace yesterday. And while last year's race was a wonderful experience, there is something about this year's that has a special blush to it. Our delight was greater, our giggy-ness higher. We knew full well that this year's training felt tougher, looked uglier...and yet, we received race grace.
What joy to know that's the way the finish line will feel when we reach eternity.