I don't know how many times I have thought or said those words over the last four months of preparing to run this marathon. When I started out on this road, there were people (whose judgment I now question!) who told me that by the time I built up to being able to run 26 miles, it would be easy. HA! Guess what. Not always the case! Sure, there are days when what used to feel like a long run now feels easy. I ran 8 miles yesterday morning, and it felt awesome. That would NOT have been the case four months ago. But it is most certainly not always easy.
Let me give you an example.
This past weekend, I was scheduled to run twenty miles. It is my longest training run prior to the race. And I was so excited about it. I wanted so desperately for it to be an awesome run that renewed my belief in my ability to finish this race. I wanted to finish in triumph and be proud of what I accomplished.
That did not happen.
My twenty mile run on Sunday was my worst run to date. Worse even than that time I had to quit and start over. Starting at mile 12, I was in constant pain. My knees were killing me, my feet were shooting with pain and my mind was
telling me begging me to just stop.
But I knew I couldn't. If I stopped, then all of that hard work would have been for nothing. And I couldn't bear that.
So I kept chanting to myself that if I managed to survive this, then God would get the glory. Because I was far from glorious that morning.
And then, when I finally made it back to my car, I realized that my gps tracker had skipped somewhere, so instead of saying that my distance was 20.0 miles, it said 19.6 miles.
I lost it.
I know that four tenths of a mile is not far, especially not i comparison to how far I had already run, but I was supposed to be finished! I had done what I was supposed to do, and this torturous run should have been OVER. But it wasn't.
So did I stop or keep going?
I kept going. I ran until that stupid gps hit 20 miles. Even thou I knew it was farther than I planned to go, farther than I wanted to go, farther than I felt I should have had to go. I finished. I did not finish in my own glory. Oh no. I was in tears. I was hurting. But I did it. And God gets the glory for that.
As I was finishing this miserable run, God revealed some truth to me.
You probably already figured it out, you smarty pants, you!
What happened to me on that run was just like what I am currently living as we wait for our little birds to come home.
We walked into the adoption world knowing it would be difficult, knowing it would be long, knowing it would hurt and knowing we could not do it on our own. What I was not ready for is the extent to which each of those things is true in my life.
Most of the time, adoption feels impossible. I mean, really. Think about it. It's kind of insane.
So much of it is hard. The paperwork was hard. Tedious and hard. But the waiting. Oh, the waiting. This is where it feels impossible. This is where I hurt emotionally, spiritually and physically, and this is where my mind sometimes tells me to just quit, that surely the pain would go away if I just quit. But I know that is not true. As painful as this is, as agonizing as it is to know that my children are alive and on the other side of the ocean and that I cannot be with them, I know it is nothing compared to the heartbreak that would follow if I walked away. I cannot walk away. These are my children. My children.
And so I keep running. Sometimes, every single step hurts. But I can't stop. There are days when I feel certain that I just can't keep going. But I do. With God's help alone, I do.
And then I think about how I felt going in to my twenty mile run. How I wanted it to be easy (how I felt like it should have been easy!), how I wanted an experience that renewed my faith in MY ability to finish this race, how I wanted to be proud of what I had accomplished. Oh, how I roll my eyes at myself now that I fully realize the selfishness of those desires.
And as He writes it, He often sends me reminders of my role within His larger framework. My experience this past weekend was one of those reminders. He has brought us to this beautiful place, a place where we are wholly and completely dependent on Him, a place where we know with absolute certainty that He is in control.
And in this place, when we survive, He gets the glory.
"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18