I’m not sure when it was. Maybe a year ago, maybe two.
She said those words. And I knew they were true.
“You’ve been sprinting through life. You’ve burned yourself out.”
I can’t deny.
Life’s a marathon. And I’ve been sprinting.
First it was tennis, tennis and more tennis. I played morning, noon and night, it seemed. I’m pretty sure I burned out long before I was aware. I knew in my heart that winning wasn’t my goal, so I snapped at the coach at an inopportune time, then kept on playing as big as I could. I played once or twice in college. That’s it. My heart was never in it from there on out. I haven’t picked up a tennis racquet for 16, 18 years.
Then it was flute. Now that I’m a mom of a not-always-excited-to-practice band student, I’m convinced I practiced like a good girl should. I never second guessed the proper amount of time I should put in to perfecting my art. I just did it. It worked for me. I must have loved it, or I wouldn’t have done it. I did band. I did lessons. I did private lessons. I did recitals. I did solos and ensembles. I won awards. I was honored for my achievement and my art. I even did wind ensemble through most of college, even when I didn’t have to, even when I was one of the only non-music majors. And when my best friend asked me to play flute at her son’s baptism, I did. I hadn’t played for three years, and it felt good. I was better than I remembered. Yet, after that day, I didn’t pick up a flute for another 12, 13 years.
Things changed a little when I became a full-fledged adult, a full-fledged wife and mom of one, two, and then three. The race venue changed. But I hadn’t.
I went to graduate school. Let’s just say I burned out before I even finished. My mom can attest to that fact. But I pressed on anyway and got that master’s degree.
We did young married couples’ bible study. With good friends, GREAT friends, for five years straight. Nearly every single week we met, traveled across the metro to another young married couple’s house. We bundled our son, and when our daughter came along, we bundled her too. I loved it and we did it for five years, but after a while, this beautiful bible study thing started to feel a little like a burden, a commitment that wasn’t working as well as it once did. The constant bundling up and heading out with two little ones on cold work and school nights was feeling like too much for this family to bear once a week forever. Yet I knew “good Christians” attended weekly bible study, wouldn’t complain or feel burdened, and would never consider a break. Then we moved. The increased travel to and from was too much more than it already was. We knew it was time to say good-bye to that not-so-young-anymore married couples’ bible study. So we called it a day.
I told her I wanted to run for city council. Perhaps I thought I was superwoman. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I wasn’t superwoman at all. Yet, I offered myself for an open seat on the planning commission anyway. The fit for my gifting and personality? It worked. Fine. I did my job and I did my best. I read every note. I studied and understood as best as I could. I sat in that seat for three years, one whole term. But I knew, this city government stuff wasn’t for me. Plus, I had elsewhere to focus. I’d started sprinting in a new direction.
Wife. Mom of two, then three. Private practice owner. Speech-language therapist. And planning commission.
It wasn’t enough.
I added non-profit board member to this sprint through life.
But at this point, I must’ve known in my heart of hearts. I needed to be CALLED to something rather than just DO it for the sake of doing it. Because all my sprinting was beginning to take a toll, and I hadn’t even begun to identify the problem yet.
So I thought and prayed over the opportunity to join the non-profit board for NINE months before I finally agreed to do it. A series of events led me to believe, very clearly, that I was being called to join the board. So I did. For three years I served diligently as board member. I gave 110%. And my God-given gifts were utilized. To this day, I believe God had called. I obeyed. And it was a beautiful thing. But when my three-year term neared the end, I knew it was time to go. I was growing weary. I knew it was time for fresh faces to step in. And since I started my term on the board, I’d also begun this blog. It was time to focus my efforts here, where I was feeling a strong call to be.
This isn’t the end of my sprinting story. There are parts I’ve left out. Intentionally. Because I’m not ready to tell the whole story yet. And I’m sure you get the point, anyway.
What I’ve written is vulnerable enough for today.
I’ll leave the rest of this story for another day.
This is the only thing I really wanted to say.
I’m no longer willing to sprint through this marathon called life.
It’s time I admit this, now.
It’s time I confess this, now.
Because sometimes life feels short, but more often? It feels like a marathon.
I’ve done things by “the book.” I’ve sprinted with all I have towards the finish line. But if God has me running a full life? I’m not quite half through “the race.”
I’d better start pacing myself.
I’d better start focusing on the things God’s called me to do instead of the things that would be good to do.
I’d better start living instead of sprinting.
So today, I slow myself. Intentionally.
I commit to living slowly, thoughtfully, and gracefully in this writing space. I commit to keeping my heart engaged. I commit to feeling connected. Always. I commit to listening to God’s call for every step. And I commit to staying and doing the hard work even when the journey feels bumpy, unsteady, fully unknown. I commit to giving myself grace and freedom to be and write like me, even when the voices tell me I should change, quit, be realistic, more practical, whatever. Burnout isn’t an option in this place. It just isn’t.
I commit to living slowly, thoughtfully, and gracefully in my living spaces. Yes will no longer be my default. No will be an option. And maybe will be just that. Maybe. We’ll see. I need to stop for a break, clean up the rubble, gather unnecessary things I’ve lugged on the sprint, and toss them out once and for all. For more is not better. And faster’s not always effective. So let me stop, please. Then I’ll pick up the pace, this time slower, with more intention.
I commit to living slowly, thoughtfully, gracefully for the loving faces. Because I’ve loved, but not enough. I’ve been vulnerable with a few, but guarded with most. I’ve lost all trust when all I really want to do is gain, and more. I’ve wanted to connect, but I haven’t known how. I haven’t had time to sit, haven’t had time to be, haven’t had time to linger, with you. A part of my heart has grown cold along the sprint. Cold, believing everyone’s sprinting, that nobody has time, that everybody has their own agenda and nobody’s interested in real relationship anymore. What if most of us are sprinting? What if we’re all burning out? What if we just need to slow down and linger longer, and that’s all we really need for our hearts to burn brighter and lighter again? So I commit. Whether I’m bad at it or not, to slowing and lingering. For the sake of connection. With you.
Life’s a marathon.
I might even have to stop before I pick the pace back up to a jog.
But you better believe this.
I will sprint no more.