During the NCAA Championship Game between Kentucky and Kansas, my friend’s brother was flexing. No, really. He was telling me how hard he’s been hitting the gym and asking me to feel his muscles. I was thrown off, as you might imagine. His serious response, however, resonated with me. He said that he wanted results; that it wasn’t worth putting in the work he was putting in if he wasn’t getting results from the work. He needed acknowledgement that progress had been made and his effort was worth something. I assured him he was getting his desired outcome and we went back to watching the game.
But even after the game ended, his comment lingered. Too many of us can relate to it, even if it’s in a different area than fitness. Jobs. Marriage. Sports. School. Friendships. The list could go on. We live in a world where we want results to validate us, we even expect them. Why wouldn’t we? Ever since kindergarten, someone has been reporting on our progress. So validation begins to sink in as a necessary byproduct of our goals. If we accomplish them, others should notice. When we don’t see results, or others don’t acknowledge them, we take it as a sign of failure. Somehow, it’s better to quit than to continue running aimlessly without desired effects of what we are trying to achieve.
I know we can all think of something we have put the work into, without getting our desired results. I had a mentor at a job tell me I worked harder than 80% of the other managers… but somehow, even though I was outworking the majority of the people there, my performance still lacked the production that the formula said it should have. Similar evaluations could probably be found for all of us. Gym plateaus or lack of results… relationships that end up being one-sided… classes in school that aren’t our cup of tea. I know I cannot be alone in this.
But how many times do we self-sabotage? We fail, just before our success? We think our results are taking too long? God must have forgotten about us…
I’m reminded of Florence Chadwick. I heard about her a few years ago. She is the first woman who swam the Catalina Channel, a 21 mile swim. She’s remembered, not just for being the first woman to do it, but shattering the 27-year record in the process. However, if you know her story… it might encourage you to press on. After 16 hours of swimming, and a half mile left til shore, Chadwick gave up on her first attempt. The dense fog made it impossible to see the shoreline, so thinking she was going nowhere, she stopped just shy of completion.
Sometimes, we get so worried about the finish line of our goal that when an obstacle is in our way, like the dense fog, we lose sight of our goals. We cannot see how close we really are to the dreams that we want. That’s why Paul refers to our walks with God as a race; one that needs endurance and resolve.
For Florence, two months later, she tried again. This time, breaking the record, even in the same weather conditions as before. The best part about it? Chadwick isn’t in the record books for being the first one to fail, she’s in the record books as the one who finished. There will be times, we don’t understand. Trust me, I’m right there, I get it. We work so hard, think we’re doing everything we need to be doing… yet, just like her first attempt, we cannot see the shoreline and give up. My friend’s brother reminded me this is a struggle we all face. Whether it is our fitness, our finances, our family… we all have goals that seem to be lacking the results we want.
Hold tight. Persevere. You might have been training for a 5k, but you’re in the midst of a marathon. Don’t give up. After all… it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.