Finishing the Race

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!”   -Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own
This was a good week for University of Kentucky basketball fans like me and my pastor, Br. Fred. We’re smiling here on Sunday – him with his Kentucky tie and me with my U.K. jumper – before the championship game, showing our support for our team. This group of young men embraced the idea of hard work and becoming a team in order to reach their goal of winning it all. That didn’t happen overnight. Most of the players were born with outstanding athletic talent and abilities but that didn’t guarantee they’d be winners. They had to spend countless hours running and practicing and shooting a basketball at a goal in a gym somewhere. It was not easy, but they persevered and eventually reached the championship of college basketball. Many other young players worked every bit as hard perhaps without winning the “big” game. Sixty plus teams began the tournament, but in every game there was a winner and there was a loser until only one team could say they won it all. 
That team happened to be the team I cheer for this year and that made the tournament lots of fun to watch. Twenty thousand fans welcomed the team home after the tournament. I was not one of those. I’m more the stay at home and cheer kind of fan. But if they had come up one game short or several games short, the arena would not have been crowded with cheering fans. 
Basketball is a team sport and a spectator sport for fans like me. But many of the “games” that challenge us are individual races we must run on our own. My daughter and her husband came home last weekend to run in a half marathon. Around two thousand other people did the same. Most ran with an individual challenge to run a good race with no expectation of actually being the first runner over the finish line. My son-in-law crossed the finish line around 240th, and he was feeling great about that accomplishment even though a couple of hundred runners ran faster than he did. My daughter was way back in the pack, but she was excited because she was able to run the whole thirteen miles and didn’t have to walk up the hills. Individual challenges met.
Writing a book is something like a marathon. It’s not something that you’re going to be able to do in one quick sprint. It’s something you have to bear down and show up at your keyboard over and over to keep spilling out words to tell your story. It’s a challenge that requires discipline to keep keeping on even when things aren’t going well. Most writers write many words before they hold their first published book in hand. But they persevere and keep writing, keep improving, keep running the race. 
I’m doing my best to persevere in that way now with the book I’m working on. To keep pulling words out. To keep telling my story. To keep running my race. In the Bible, Paul compares himself to a runner several times. In Philippians 3:13 he says this. Of course, my brothers, I really do not think that I have already won it {the prize}; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. (Good New Bible) 

While Paul is speaking about running his spiritual race and living for Jesus, the thought of that verse works so well in many of the “races” we must run in life. Forget what’s behind and keep our eyes on the prize ahead. For my writing that means I need to focus on my goal of telling this story and not on the stories I’ve written before or the books others have written. Write my book. Tell the story I have to tell. Finish my race. And when all the words are written then I can take the advice of Lewis Carroll. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”  

Do you set individual goals to help you finish your race?  
Thanks so much for reading.