Giving it up to gain more back
“I’ve got to get back in shape,” William, my fiancé, muttered over his mug of beer in early December at the Sharp Edge restaurant and bar. Chrissy, his good friend and triathlete, was delighted. So was I. He had been running regularly about two years ago, but stopped when we began dating seriously.
“If you’re going to start running again, you’ve got to set a goal for yourself. I know you. You need to compete against either yourself or someone else,” Chrissy said, her manicured amber nails reflecting the dim light of the small chandelier above us as she drained the last of her water.
“I’m not that competitive,” He smirked.
Both Chrissy and I rolled our eyes.
Just then the waiter stopped by our table to offer dessert. Chrissy shook her head. I raised my eyebrows at William when he glanced my way and he politely refused. None of us needed any extra calories.
“Pittsburgh Half Marathon. May 6. I will help you begin training in January,” Chrissy declared.
“You remember what happened the last time?” William asked.
“But now you have me to keep you accountable. No excuses. No quitting,” I said.
He heaved a huge sigh, realizing he was outnumbered.
Chrissy high-fived me.
She has since helped him choose appropriate running shoes and assigned one mile the first week of January, and a mile and a half this week. Sunday he moved in slow motion. Monday he sucked down several doses of Ibuprofen.
William’s initial concern about the training was the increasing amount of time that will be required away from me. He warned me not to field complaints of “abandonment.” But I am willing to give up some of our time for the greater cause of encouraging him in this new goal. Perhaps the time he devotes to training will refresh his mind and therefore reap more relational benefits for me.
His decision inspired me to ponder Philippians 3:13 “ . . . but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul is using the metaphor of a race to describe the work, commitment and dedication it takes to live life as a Christian.
Paul gave his life to ministry. Christians assume it was worth it for him. William is giving up time with me to train. We assume his hard work will result in a healthier body. (Not a first place prize. I could care less how fast his time is.)
I myself cannot gain in one area of my life without sacrificing somewhere else. Yet, what initially feels like loss – in reality – is likely something hindering me. It’s a paradox.
What am I going to give up in order to follow closer after God? Or, to feel less overwhelming, what am I going to give up just for today? For me, it is as simple and maddening as sleep. But I’m sure my own journey is about to become more difficult, yet I have hope that my sacrifice will result in a more peaceful soul.