Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The one with the running achievement

Thanks to a great deal with Late Rooms I find myself writing this blog whilst sitting in the lounge of a rather nice hotel.  After a great night's sleep, and a delicious breakfast, I left the boys watching Marley and Me in our room and slipped quietly away with my laptop and book (Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith).  Having engrossed myself in the book for over an hour, I now feel inspired (and awake enough!) to write this, my eighth blog :)

You may suspect by the title that this blog may have something to do with running?  Well, you would be correct in this assumption.  For, yesterday, I donned my gym gear and running shoes and ventured into the hotel's gym.

My rationale for this absurd behaviour (after all - this was supposed to be a relaxing weekend and I have not been to the gym in over six months!) was three-fold.

Firstly, as 'free use' of the gym came with the hotel package, I somehow felt I needed to take advantage of this, even if it wouldn't usually form part of an ideal weekend away for me.  (This need to make the most of everything offered during the stay also runs into breakfast, where I just have to try everything laid out at the buffet!)

The second reason for entering the gym (and actually using it) lay in the fact that over the last few months I have noticed my jeans getting a little tighter.  I have tried to blame the washing machine and the tumble drier for this, but I think it is about time I start facing up to the fact that it might just be possible that I have put on a few unwanted pounds.

And thirdly, and probably the most persuasive reason for me entering the gym was the reward of enjoying the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi afterwards :)  Oh, how I love them!

So - between 3pm and 4pm yesterday I enjoyed (endured?!) the gym experience.

I have never found running particularly easy.  Even during my fit seasons running has always been a challenging exercise for me.  At the gym, I would be more than content to stick to all other CV machines and totally ignore the treadmill.  However, the gym isn't supposed to be easy right?
So, upon entering, I made my way straight to the treadmill and began my warm up walk.  So far, so good.  Now to up the pace!  A slow jog for a few minutes.

After the initial embarrassment of watching my ipod jump off the shelf on the treadmill, onto the runner (pulling headphones out of my ears) and then zooming off the back and shooting across the gym floor, I actually began to enjoy the experience.  I also achieved a lot more than I thought I was capable of.  You see, I initially set myself a target of two minutes jogging (I really AM unfit!), but as I neared the two minute mark, I felt I had a little bit extra to give, and convinced myself I could make three minutes - then four - then five .... until I had surprisingly managed to jog for eight minutes.  Amazing.  And yet, ten sounded so much better.  So, forgetting my aching legs, and laboured breathing, I told myself I could do an extra two minutes.  I could do it, I could do it, I could do it!  I did it!  Yes!  I had ran for ten minutes, when I only thought I was capable of two.  Breathtaking! (in both senses of the word!)  Go me!

As I lay in bed last night, tired and content (albeit a little bit achy) I contemplated my running achievement.  Why did I set myself such a low target originally? Why did I convince myself I was unable to do any more?  Because, this was all I knew I was capable of.  I didn't think I was fit enough to push for anymore - and I didn't want to fail at trying.  I don't like failure.  And yet, I am beginning to realise that this fear of failure often results in not even giving things a go.  And this, in turn, hinders my development.  If I only ever challenge myself to a two minute run, this is all I will ever achieve.

But I want to continue to develop - physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally .... do you?

How can we avoid developmentally stagnating?

Having considered this a little, I am beginning to conclude that it is down to belief.  Belief in oneself, the belief of others, and the belief of God.  Let me explain ...

During my run yesterday, I told myself that I could do it.  I encouraged myself to go that little bit further.  I set myself realistic (SMART) challenges that I thought I could do.  As I reached these targets I began to see I was capable of a little bit more.  I believed I could do it.  Belief in one's own abilities is vital if we are going to stretch our existing boundaries and try for more.

The belief of others is also a contributing factor to our personal development.  Although my running achievement yesterday was down to my believing in myself, there have been several times recently, I have been able to achieve far more than expected, due to the belief of others.  Two months ago I received an email from Moorlands College, asking if I would be prepared to give a short testimony of my time with them during my Graduation ceremony.  To some, this may not seem a big deal - but to me it was huge!  Thoughts instantly flooded my mind - 'I am no good at public speaking', 'I don't have anything interesting to say', 'I will speak so fast no-one will even understand me', 'Other people are far more suited to it'.  I pounded myself with negative thoughts, until I allowed a different perspective to enter my mind.  College had chosen me.  Out of all the students they could have asked - they asked me.  That surely had to mean they believed in my ability to perform the task being asked of me.  If they believed in me, then perhaps I could do it after all.  On the 15th October - I ascended the steep steps to the pulpit in Christchurch Priory and shared my testimony to over 500 people.  I pushed my existing boundaries and realised I was capable of more :) 

And finally, when we truly understand how much God believes in us, we will be encouraged and empowered to achieve all he asks of us.  We can step out and achieve in the assurance of his love, his acceptance, and his belief in our abilities.  Wow.  How amazing to have the God of the Universe believing in us.  This in itself should be enough to encourage us to see things differently - if God believes in us, shouldn't we also believe in ourselves?  If God asks us to do something - he knows we can achieve it :) 

This has turned out to be a long blog - but such a challenging one.

Maybe I can challenge you to reach new goals, simply by believing in your own abilities a bit more?  You can do it!

Maybe I can encourage you to express your belief to others more?  Never underestimate the importance of your belief in people.  Your belief may be just what they need to achieve something amazing in their lives.

And more than anything - maybe I can encourage you to consider how awesome it is that God believes in you.  Yes you.  :)  What a difference this should make in our lives!!

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