The person I have the hardest time reasoning with is myself. I can work to convince my inner self not to try for something; but when that something is genuinely is something I need, I can’t get it out of my heart.
When I hear that something echoing in my head when I fall asleep, when I notice that something whispered in quiet moments of prayer, when I see little winks that point the way subtly to that something on my heart: this is when I know that something deserves honest consideration.
Something like moving back to the East Coast from the midwest after leaving years ago.
Like trying for another baby after losing Darla.
Like signing our first mortgage in the middle of a blizzard.
Like trying to run the Boston marathon.
And in acknowledging those somethings as goals, it is critical for me to respect that trying for something big doesn’t mean I will succeed. Giving my all doesn’t mean I will reach that goal, now or ever. Each moment we give to a dream we feel called to matters; some moments matter more than others, and honest efforts add up to different results each time.
Today, I am running the Boston marathon for my first time. I qualified in the past, but the timing wasn’t right. The year I would have run it last was 2015 when I was 37.5 weeks pregnant with Gracie on race day. With my hospital inaccessible due to race traffic, I was trying not even to sneeze that day. Running wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t fail at running it that year; it just knew it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t my time.
Still, the idea to run Boston never left me. In Spring of 2018, I decided to try and qualify again. A summer of long, hot running gradually amounted to the miles I needed; in September of 2018, I qualified again. However, due to the popularity of the Boston marathon, qualifying alone does not equate to running the race. Qualifying times are determined by age and gender. Depending on the size of the field of entrants, there is often a cut-off time set that is even more aggressive than the qualifying times.
This year, the requirement for admittance was to exceed your qualifying time by 4 minutes and 52 seconds. I surpassed mine by 4 minutes and 53 seconds. This means that I am running this race today thanks to 1 significant second.
This time around, my best was just enough. But being admitted to run this race was not anything I could have predicted; the best I could give was just enough this time. It could have easily not been this way. Countless other times in life, my best was not enough. I think back to jobs I haven’t gotten, classes I didn’t excel in, writing pieces I have had rejected: in these cases, the moments I managed to give to a goal fell short.
I’m thankful for each failure I’ve had because I like life a lot right now. In coming up short, sometimes we discover a new path. We find a special strength that was buried. And at the very least, we are left with a writing piece that we thought was pretty good and we can now use elsewhere.
If we desire to forge ahead bravely and boldly, we live out our choices and chances the best we can. There is humility in recognizing that God may have something else lined up for us, and falling short might not make sense now. It’s important to check that our plans line up with His. If we get out of sync, life doesn’t work. Knowing that we are loved, valued, and needed for more than we can grasp in our own minds takes the sting out of flopping.
We won’t fail if it wasn’t for us to begin with.
And so when we feel it’s right, we try again; perspective from disappointment gives us an edge we couldn’t get otherwise. I wouldn’t be running this race today if I didn’t try again, piecing together a lot of yucky summer runs on little sleep, accepting that it was my best at that moment. I am strongly advocating an attitude of humility and curiosity in failure.
I don’t know how I will do today, and candidly, I don’t care. It is part of my story to run this race, and that’s all I know right now. Our lives are a melody of moments, strung together purposefully into something beautiful. Some notes are loud and meaningful, some are nearly silent, filling the gaps until our next breakthrough.
Moments make a life.
Failure is part of it.