We would all agree that 2020 has been rough. I feel like each time I start to catch my breath and establish any sense of routine, something happens. I get knocked down, lose my standing and have to gasp for breath. I have felt this way on all levels. We have the obvious: Covid-19, civil unrest and division in the government – just to name a few. Then there are the more personal things. I have an anxious kid who lost out on her last few months of elementary school, who often expresses her grief through anger directed at me. I’m an active extrovert who is also autoimmune. I’ve struggled with not working and being at home, yet not wanted to expose myself unnecessarily to an unknown disease.
But oddly enough, in the midst of it all, I have thrived in ways that I never had before.
My plan (which as 2020 has taught us, could easily be derailed) is to spend the next several weeks talking about how we can thrive through this season of uncertainty. I am going to share a few things that have worked for me. I’m going to get practical. I’m going to get spiritual. It may feel like I’m all over the map. But at the heart of it all is this simple question –how can we thrive in this season of uncertainty?
So where do we start?
We must live with the end in mind.
I have heard it said that all important life lessons are learned in Kindergarten. For me, I have learned most of my important life lessons through running. I was a cross country running coach for several years. Before the races would begin I would always remind my runners, don’t start out too fast. At the end of the race, you will not remember how you started – you will remember how you finish.
You may cringe at the idea of running a block, but take a moment and join me. Imagine a group of runners at the starting line. The gunshot goes off and the runners are off. Most of the girls stay in the pack. But there are a few that are ahead right from the beginning. You recognize a few of the girls that are leading the pack, but there are a couple newbies – girls you haven’t noticed before. At about mile 1, those new girls are still ahead of the pack, but you notice that their form has changed. They are winded. They are gasping for air. They begin to slow down. By mile 2, those new girls are no longer in front of the pack. But you notice someone new coming up from the rear. They aren’t in first place, but are definitely breaking free from the pack. By mile 3, that girl that came up from behind is nearing the fastest runner. The crowds are cheering loudly, cheering them on to the end. What will those girls remember from that experience? They will remember how they finished, not how they began.
We don’t remember how we start the race, we remember how we finish.
Do you remember social media in March? Wasn’t it beautiful? It was full of words of encouragement. Every other post was about how we are in this together. People were posting ideas about how to keep your kids entertained and sane as we sheltered in place. Encouraging words were shared with abundance. I was so proud to be a human. I felt like we were actually in this together. When is the last time you have seen an encouraging post similar to those in March? There have been times when I want to post something along those lines, but it hasn’t felt right. I’m not confident that those words are true anymore.
Friends, we started this race well. But at our current pace, we are not on track to finish well. And just like a running race, when we look back at this time, we will not look back and remember how we started – we will look back and remember how we finished.
We need to ask, “How do we want to remember this season?”
Back in March when this all began, I posed the question “How do you want to remember this season?” I think it is a good time for all of us, myself included, to revisit that question now that we have spent some time in the trenches. In that post I shared a few things I wanted to remember about this time. I wanted to remember it as a time that I had the time and energy to do an intense 90 day workout program. I completed it, the whole 90 days. I shared that I wanted to be more present with my kids. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done better. There are a few other things I shared in that post that I am working on and things that I have yet to accomplish. But because I was thoughtful about this season, in those moments when I feel knocked down and struggle to catch my breath, I can look back on my progress and feel proud. I haven’t just survived this season of uncertainty, I have thrived in ways I never have before.
As I share these things, don’t be deceived, this has been a tough season for me in many ways. But I’m learning that it’s not just one or the other – surviving or thriving. There can be areas in our life where we barely make it, yet in the same space we can be growing and thriving in ways that we have never done before.
There is good news. It’s not too late.
It’s true, we have already started the race. Maybe we started off a bit too fast and are finding ourselves having to pause and take a breath. It may not feel like it, but the good news is that the race is not yet over. There is still time to catch your breath, adjust your pace, imagine the finish line and finish strong. We not may not win, but in the end that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that when you cross that finish line, you can hold your head up high knowing you did the absolute best you could.
And I don’t know about you, but that is what I want to remember about this season.
Because there is more,
4 thoughts on “Thriving not Surviving.”
Lisa, I’m not a runner but really appreciated the analogy and encouragement to finish the race. My husband lost his job, and our oldest son, a high school senior, felt his senior year was stolen. Yet, through all of this we have stayed focused. My husband was able to help me publish my first children’s book, and taught our youngest to ride his bike. Both sons have grown closer to each other, and I notice precious moments all around. We keep running, moving forward, thriving, not just surviving. Maybe I will try actual running after all.
Thanks for your comment. I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s job, hopefully he can find something soon! It helps so much to remind yourself the good that has come from this season. Those are all great things! Congrats on your book! Blessings!
This is great advice. I have been very cranky lately but have given up a lot to God. I keep trying to control things but I have to let go and let God. I’m still working on it just like a lot of others but this post really encouraged me.
Thank you, I am so glad you felt encouraged! Blessing to you in these uncertain times!