It was 20 minutes before the gun was to go off signaling the start of the Chevron Houston Marathon. The forecast was not good – rain, 15-17 mph winds, and low 40s. On a side note, I like to race in the low 40s, just not in combination with high winds and rain. As we waited in the corral anxiously anticipating what the day would reveal, the rain began to dump on us dampening any last hope of outrunning the rain. As I looked around at the other runners and surveyed my own emotions, I realized this would be a unique day with plenty of lessons to be learned. Maybe, not the ideal, PR-setting day, but a day of growth for sure.
Distractions are a part of life. We can embrace them, be annoyed by them, or strive to ignore them, but they always seem to appear at the wrong time. No one plans for a good distraction in his or her life. They don’t pull out their iPhone and schedule a good dose of fear or doubt at 8:07 am. Distractions appear from behind the curtain unannounced, uninvited, and unwanted. Here are three things that I learned from one of the hardest races of my life that apply to all areas of our lives:
- Distractions Can Bring Focus – The distraction of being wet and running in the rain actually helped me focus on the next step in pursuit of my goal. I was not thinking about the 3-plus hours that I would be running or the 26.2 miles that I would be traversing. I was just focused on the next step in front of me. Step by step and stride by stride was my mantra, and it served me well in reaching my goal. In order to achieve your goal in anything in life, you must learn – sometimes “in the moment” – how to narrow your focus in the midst of distractions and focus on the next step in the journey.
- Distractions Can Reveal Faith – During the race, I was praying that God would carry me through this race. It was not like I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my training as well as the gear I was wearing to weather the “storm,” but it was in the midst of this distraction that I re-discovered where my real strength comes from. It is in the midst of a distraction – major ones like cancer, death, sorrow, broken relationships – that we discover the source of true peace, joy, and perseverance and how faith can help us conquer our fears.
- Distractions Can Fuel Fulfillment – While I did not reach my Boston Marathon qualifying goal on that particular day, I truly appreciated what I and thousands of other fellow runners accomplished on a day such as this. To look back and say, “I conquered that!” brings a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. When I look back at other times in my life when I have faced even greater life distractions than a little bad weather, I always appreciate the way that I grew from that experience, what I learned in the moment, and what resulted from that moment.
Your trajectory can tremendously change when you learn to discover that distractions are a part of life. Don’t be shocked when a distraction drops onto your doorstep. Stay focused on your goal, allow faith to conquer your fears, and look forward to the fulfillment that you will feel when you persevere through this moment!
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