Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Never Let Up, Finish Stronger Than You Started~ April 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Earlier this week I attended a track meet where two of my children competed. As is often the case, an everyday life event proved itself to be an opportunity for a learning experience.

Allow me to set the scene.

Our boys team is on the track for the 1600 meter race, also known as the mile. Four repetitious laps around an oval track could drive anyone mad but three of our athletes quickly take the lead and settle in to a comfortable pace. The number two spot is held by my Peyton.  Their training takes over as they huddle together for the first three laps, competitors close behind but not close enough to make them sweat. As they enter the final 200 meters, our top distance runner pulls away in a beautiful sprint easily securing his spot as top dog. Rounding the final turn, Peyton still holds 2nd with his teammate literally on his heels. Neither one quickens their pace, content with their respective 2nd and 3rd place finishes. With their eyes rightly focused on the finish line, they fail to hear their opponents footsteps as they fall deathly silent on the rubber track. I, along with every other fan for our school, start to scream at the boys to kick it to no avail. Fourth place sails past them just before they step across the line to take 2nd. My mom and I lock eyes knowing what is coming. Even from a distance we can see the vibrant red creep up Peyton’s neck to his face as he realizes the mistake he just made.

Slowly Peyton makes his way to me, shrugging off every congratulations that is extended, exuding such obvious rage that his friends quickly retreat. I brace myself for impact while contemplating how to deal. Do I go into mommy mode and coddle him, making excuses for his faux pas or do I slip into coach mode and use this as a teaching moment? Through gritted teeth he says, “I didn’t know he was so close! I didn’t even sprint, I had plenty left!!” Very calmly, choosing my words carefully, I responded, “You should never base your performance on someone else. You give it everything you’ve got, regardless. Don’t you ever let up and always, always finish stronger than you started.”

He paced for a bit and we talked with his teammate who ended up in 4th about the importance of finishing strong and finally, he calmed down. I can safely say that they both learned their lesson.

Reflecting on that conversation, I can easily see where this lesson can be applied to other areas of life. In the workplace, whether that be in or outside of the home, in our family, our community, our church…literally in any area of our lives…we should never fall into comparing our efforts to those around us. If we would all make it our priority to do our level best at everything we do, then even if we fail by the worlds standards, we will have succeeded. It isn’t about what so-and-so does or where you measure up in the big scheme of things. Life is about knowing that you’ve laid it all out there, being the best possible version of yourself every step of the way. By moving forward in this manner, you can rest assured that you will definitely finish stronger than you started.start finish

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (1Co 9:24-27 The Message)

 

 

~Chin Down, Eyes Forward, Arms Moving~ April 15, 2014

Last night I attended a track meet in which two of my children were participants.  Track meets can be fun to watch.  If you have 5 hours to spare, I highly recommend you attend one.  This particular meet was kinda rough as the skies had opened up just at the start and completely saturated the track, sand pits, runways….and bleachers.  Boo.

The kids were troopers though and went to work.  The majority of the runners participate in multiple events.  My two are distance runners meaning their events included the 1600,800 and 4 x 400 relay.  A total of 1.75 competitive miles.  As you might imagine, while the night drags on…and on….and on, they get a little run down.

Exhaustion sets in and it’s as if the weight of their heads is too much for their necks to hold up.  They give in to the pull and let their heads drop back, mouths wide open, sucking in air.

The sound of competitors feet, hard and fast behind them, tempts them to look over their shoulders to see just how much they are closing the gap.

Event after event, their bodies start to wear down and their once perfect form starts to deteriorate.  Their arms swing wildly as they approach the finish line one more time.

Myself and the fellow momma bears, (and 1 nana), scream frantically from the stands “Come on!!  You can do it! One more lap!!  You’re almost there!!”

But one coach on the infield caught my attention.  He was standing about 50 meters from the finish line and every time one of his kids would come by, this is what he would say, “Chin down, eyes forward and keep those arms moving front to back.”

Words of wisdom.  And I’m not talking about strictly for running.

Life gets tough and the burden of it all weighs you down.  You drop your head in defeat.  You start looking backwards, thinking the past was so much better than the present.  You decide you just don’t care anymore about doing things the “right way” and you start flailing.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

When you’re tired of trying and feel like giving up, that’s when you need to buckle down.

When the enemy is nipping at your heels, attacking you in every aspect of your life, keep your focus.

When it seems you’ve given your very best and it’s all for nothing, don’t lose your form.  Keep doing what you know to be right and true all the way through to the finish.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

That is how we will win the most important race we’ll ever run.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT)

champion

One more time:  CHIN DOWN, EYES FORWARD, ARMS MOVING.