The clock strikes midnight, we all hoot and holler, hugging friends and loved ones, wishing each other a “Happy New Year!” For a few seconds we forget about the past and haven’t started thinking about the future. We celebrate in the present, ringing in the New Year with the people we love.
The next morning, we hop out of bed and begin compiling our page-long list of New Year’s resolutions. If you are like me, it’s a list that says, “Stop doing this! Start doing that!” and at a point I have to cut myself off because this list could go on and on. By day 7, maybe 14 if I am lucky, I have started making excuses as to why each resolution was “too lofty” anyway:
“I like coffee, coffee brings me happiness and helps with my productivity.”
“I don’t want to go to the gym today. I’m sore from Monday and I think I should rest for the next week.”
“I’m tired this morning, I went to church last Sunday, I think God will understand.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
If I am being honest, this list doesn’t just happen for me on January 1st. I make a similar “Kiera Does Better” list at the beginning of every month, and often by day 20, I’ve somehow gotten off track and forgotten about the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the month. I am disappointed with myself every time I can’t remain disciplined enough to satisfy my monthly goals.
The “I can do this,” attitude that I had in the beginning of the month becomes, “I can’t do that” by the end.
One particular “Kiera Does Better” list was initiated in May of my senior year of college when I decided to make a list of goals for my summer of freedom. Somehow, in my excitement, “Start running,” turned into, “Train for a half marathon!” Within that month, I had signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon, completed my first training day, and immediately regretted the decision.
I walked into my boss’s office, and admitted to him that I had signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon, had just tried to run a mile, and failed miserably. It is important to understand that he is a super marathon runner and I had told him many, many times before that I hate running. I can imagine that he was probably a little puzzled when I told him that I had signed up for the half marathon. It isn’t often that someone subjects herself to 13.1 miles of doing something she hates. But instead of asking why, and trying to understand my madness, he said, “Great! Let’s build your training schedule.”
He helped me build a training schedule and although I continued to regret signing up for 13.1 miles of torture, week after week, he reminded me that through discipline, this challenge would be worth it.
There is a science to race training. Training schedules start small, running your least amount of mileage in your first week, and grow into running your most mileage about 2 weeks before race day, then tapering off a little the week of the race for extra energy. Training schedules are crucial for developing a routine of running and preparing for a long run, however, runners often hit a “wall” at some point in their training. For me, this wall was my 7 mile long run. I was halfway through my training, but I felt like I couldn’t push past seven miles.
My discipline wasn’t enough to carry me through the seven mile run. I read articles about running, I immersed myself in running culture. But it wasn’t enough; I had hit my running wall. So, finally, I did something that I should have done before I even signed up for the race. I prayed. I prayed and asked God for strength and direction.
My next run was the easiest seven miles I had ever run. From then on I started asking God to run with me every time I went out. I asked him to make himself known. I felt encouraged to tell others that I was training for this race in hopes that I could either be convinced that I was crazy, and feel supported to quit, or that they would encourage me to keep going. Thankfully, three of my friends decided that they wanted to join me. Running is hard, but I had told too many people at that point to give up.
My training plan now included more than just the number of miles I was running per week. It included bible passages to keep me on track and talking to runners at church for motivation. My Google search history was filled with bible passages to help me with discipline, and bible verses about running.
I surrounded myself with people who supported my goal. I went for runs with my best friend from high school, who was always a runner growing up. She and I would meet up during the week and tell each other stories from college, catching up on the last 4 years of our lives apart on our morning runs. When I moved back to Philly, my roommates and I would plan morning runs together that ended at Wawa so that we could pick up our favorite pumpkin spice flavored coffee.
Six months later, November 19th rolled around and it was time to perform: Time to accomplish the goal that I had spent six months training for. It was hard. I wanted to give up. But each time I felt weary, I said a short prayer, “God, please help,” and I would repeat Philippians 4:13 as many times as it took to make it through each mile, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Too many times, I yelled to my three friends in front of me to finish without me. But instead of leaving me in their dust, they promised we would finish the race together, my prayers answered.
I crossed over that finish line, the moment that I had been visualizing for six months, and I cried. I didn’t think I could do it. But I did; I did it surrounded by the support of the people God placed in my life to make sure that I accomplished my goal. James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” My relationship with God flourished in those six months as I persevered and learned to rely on Him. God continues to work with me through perseverance to build maturity and completeness.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith . . . No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained for it.” Hebrews 12:1-2, 12:11
I think this was the first intense goal that I accomplished from a “Kiera Does Better List.” Since then, every goal that I put on this list is accompanied FIRST by a prayer, THEN a plan. When we pray on our goals, we ask God to support our training plan and invite God to actively work as a catalyst in our life. My “I can do this” attitude has been transformed into “We can do this,” with God leading the way.