It may take awhile, but sometimes we just have to finish what we start.
|It was the evening before Sharon’s first marathon. She had worked hard to get to this point. The countless hours she spent running in the early morning were about to pay off. All of her friends and family and even colleagues from work would be there and they all had high expectations for her. The pressure was immense as she tried to relax in her bubble bath. She had run a good time this morning, one of her best yet, and she was confident that she would do well. All she could do now was eat a good dinner and get a good night’s sleep.
Her fiancé Sam, who she was set to marry in three months, peeked his head inside the bathroom door to tell her for the millionth time how proud he was of her and no matter how she did, he loved her for trying. Sharon blushed as she splashed water in his direction and waved him out the door. Everyone was expecting her to come home having made a good finish because it would mean great publicity for the local charity she was running for.
Sharon stepped out of the tub and dried herself off. She sat at her vanity and stared at herself in the mirror as she smoothed moisturizer on her skin, now a rich brown from the many hours spent running in the early morning sun.
Who do you think you are, she asked herself? You’re no runner. You just started running less than two years ago. You’ll never keep up with all those other runners who are so much better than you.
She closed her eyes and inhaled a slow, deep breath.
You can do this. You may not do as well as everyone expects but you can at least finish.
Her thoughts were interrupted as Sam called her from the living room. A package had come for her and he wanted her to open it. He thought it might be something from one of her many supporters and was eager to see what it was. She slid her lean body into her gray and white lounging pajamas and headed to the living room.
“What’s this,” she asked just as excited as Sam?
“Open it,” he said thrusting the package into her hands.
Sharon opened the small, brown, padded envelope and pulled out an unlabeled DVD with a yellow post-it note attached. It simply said, “For the superstar runner. Watch this.”
An overly curious Sam grabbed the DVD from Sharon and stuck it into the DVD player. They both watched intrigued as a young, teen aged Sharon stood at the starting line of a high school track. There were crowds in the stands cheering on the teams about to race in the 400 meter relay. The starter sounded as the eight runners took off. Sharon’s eyes widened as she watched her younger self sprint around the track’s first 200 meters at lightning speed, far ahead of the other runners, only to slow down to a crawl for the last 200 meters. She watched in horror as all of the other runners easily passed her by leaving her to drag herself humiliated to hand off the baton to her teammate. The young Sharon stumbled over to the field and fell exhausted into the grass. She sat teary eyed as each of her team mates finished far behind the other runners finally finishing the race in last place. The laughter from the crowd was the last thing she heard as she stopped the DVD.
A crimson faced Sharon stared at the floor in disbelief. There was evidence. Sharon remembered the race that had become symbolic of her life all too well. What she thought she had put behind her over thirty years ago was back reminding her what a failure she really was. The gentle voice of her fiancé broke the deafening silence.
“What happened Sharon? What did we just watch?”
“It was my first 400 meter run,” she whispered. “The coach just put me into the race and told me to run. Nobody had trained me how to run the race. They just told me to run. So I did. I didn’t know anything about pacing myself. I just ran as if everything depended on how fast I got around the track…and well, you can see what happened.”
“Well, you did your best. It doesn’t have anything to do with your life now.”
“But it does,” Sharon whimpered. “You don’t know this, but there have been millions of times in my life before we met when I set out to do something with great enthusiasm only to barely finish, if I finished at all. This is my life. Just one failure after another and this marathon will be no different. If we have seen this DVD just think of who else has…or will. I can’t run tomorrow. I’ll just make a fool of myself and disappoint everyone again.”
Sam moved closer to Sharon and placed his arm around her shoulder.
“Sharon, all of us have made mistakes and done something humiliating at some point in our lives. But we keep going. We try again. We don’t give up just because something didn’t happen the way we thought it should.”
“I don’t know Sam. If anyone else has seen this DVD I just can’t run tomorrow.”
Sharon stood up and walked toward the bedroom.
“I’m going to bed. I’ll just explain to everyone tomorrow that I injured myself and can’t run. They’ll understand that, I’m sure.”
Sharon tossed and turned for a long time and Sam stayed awake with her until she finally fell asleep around midnight. When he knew she was asleep, he whispered a prayer to the loving and forgiving God Sharon was always telling him about. His prayer was simple.
God, please help Sharon not to give up now. She’s come so far and I know you haven’t given up on her. Please help her see that none of her family or true friends have given up on her either.
Sharon awoke at her usual time the next morning. She stretched and sat up quietly on the edge of the bed. Sam was up and dressed and smiled cheerfully as he walked into the room.
“So, what are you going to do today baby? You had better start getting dressed if we want to be there on time.”
“I think I will go today, Sam. I thought about what you said last night. It very well may be that I’ve failed many things in the past but that doesn’t’ have to be my life now or my future. I have trained really hard for this and the only thing that matters is that I show up and finish what I start.”
“That’s my girl,” Sam beamed. “Now let’s get you ready.”
Sharon doesn’t remember what place she finished in the race, but she did finish…and with one of her best times ever. Everyone was so proud of her and she helped to raise a great amount of money and awareness for their charity. Sharon smiled as she cooked a victory dinner for her and Sam. She finally realized what God has been trying to tell her for so long. It doesn’t matter how you start and it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make. What matters is that you do your best and finish the things that you do start. That is all that the people who truly love you expect and that is all that God wants…that you just…FINISH THE GAME.
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