Focus on the Goal: Daily Discipline
This year during Lent I focused on the verse from Hebrews 12 that tells us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” This verse was mostly spurred by my One word choice for the year, PERSEVERE, but also due to the fact that I was training for my first half marathon. I’m a novice runner, to say that least. I’ve run in the past, but took many years off to deal with health issues and have a baby. I’m not quite sure why I thought it would be a good idea to set my goals high and sign up for a half marathon, but I did it! This was a first for me to train and run a half marathon. I began training months before the race date, which proved to be a feat in itself with 4 kids underfoot and less than ideal training temperatures. When race day came I felt ready and I ran with perseverance the race that was before me. I focused on the goal of completion with little expectations of too much else. After the pain and fatigue wore off and I was relishing in the euphoria of my accomplishment it didn’t seem too far stretched to think that I could smash my PR the next time.
After talking to a few seasoned runners I quickly realized that although my training worked to prep me for race day, I skipped a very important step to prep more for developing a habit of running. I put a lot of emphasis on the long runs, scheduling them on the weekends, arranging childcare and keeping hydrated for them. But I failed to be disciplined in the short daily runs and only got them in when it was convenient. It seemed so easy to talk myself out of a majority of the short runs, which made me lack in the overall mileage accrued during a week. I was talking to a family member who had recently run his first full marathon. He said in the 2 weeks after bringing a new baby home he failed to do the short runs and found himself dragging on the long runs on the weekend. He told me, “The daily runs are key to maintaining your endurance so you can get more out of your long runs on the weekend.” This really got me to thinking about how training for a half marathon is a lot like training for this race of life.
If I’m mostly relying on my long runs to train for the race then I’m not properly training for strength and endurance. I’m setting myself up for burnout and defeat. This is the same in my spiritual life. If I’m solely relying on Sunday Mass to get me through then I’m setting myself up for a spiritual life that lacks real strength and endurance. I need to be disciplined in the daily metanoia of returning my heart to the Lord. I don’t have to make this as strenuous as my long runs. I can do short spurts of bible reading, spiritual reading and always prayer. I can pray a rosary or simply state my intentions for the day and ask for guidance. Or I can make my daily trainings a little more intense with Daily Mass or a Holy Hour spent with the tabernacle or Eucharistic Adoration if available. When I’m daily turning my heart to the Lord then I’m able to get so much more out of my “long runs” or Mass on Sunday. Mass becomes engaging, and I’m quickly realizing my relationship with the Lord is so much more personal and vibrant.
Just like scheduling my short daily runs it is very easy to talk myself out of my daily metanoia of returning my heart to the Lord. I find myself sleeping through my alarm, changing the laundry, making a phone call or doing a daily chore. These all could wait until after I was done, but it’s almost as if I’m stalling. How much more important is my spiritual life! Why do I not make it a priority and schedule my time? Just like I schedule my Mass times each week and make them a priority. This race of life takes Discipline; I have a goal of Heaven. I have to set my sights on that goal and always keep that in mind so that I can stay focused and disciplined to run this race marked out for me.
How are you running your race? What does your daily metanoia look like? Community is so important to growing in our faith lives together. When we see each other running this race of life we need to encourage each other along the way. We can grow in wisdom from those who have ran ahead of us, and share the knowledge we gain with those we are currently running with.
Let’s persevere in running the race set before us, because the benefits of perseverance far outweigh the sacrifice and discipline required. That way when we reach the finish line we will have no regrets and we will be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2Tim 4:7
Be sure to find me in the Facebook community. I’d love to hear how you’re running your race and what your daily metanoia looks like!
Natalie Gifford is a Catholic Convert with a passion for Jesus and for reaching the church with the initiative of the New Evangelization and helping women grow in faith and community. When she’s not leading women’s bible studies or immersed in a good read you can find her doing her most important job of loving her husband and raising her 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls) There’s a great Mother Teresa quote that says “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” Natalie has set out on mission to help women grow in their relationship with Christ so that out of that abundance of love and grace they can go home and love their family. It really is so simple. Will you join her in becoming a world changer?