I Have Run the Race

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7

I used to be a runner. Scratch that. I used to be a sprinter. The word “runner” conjures up the idea of people who lace up sneakers and hit the trail for miles upon miles. I did not do that. When I was young, I’m talking Junior High young, I was a sprinter. I ran the 100 m, 200 m, the 4x100m, and the 4x200m. I was fairly fast when I was 12. Fast enough to qualify for State but not fast enough to win. I have really long legs for a gal of 5’1″ (which I reached at age 12) and I have been blessed with my mother’s calves. My calves have incredible strength. Strong calves make for great sprinting.

I loved Track and Field in those days. I actually still love it. It’s my favorite Olympic sport to watch. I loved training and knowing that every practice out of the blocks would make me faster on meet day. I loved watching our coach stand at the finish line with her stopwatch. I hated when she said, “That’s not enough, Duckworth, you’re gonna have to give it more gas” and I lived for the times she’d say,”That’ll get you a win, Duckworth.” There were no other Tamara’s on my team but I loved that she called me “Duckworth” like I was a real athlete.

And there it is.

Like. I. Was. A. Real. Athlete.

I joined the track team in 7th grade. I went to all the practices. I had both home and away uniforms, plus a sweatsuit. I had my own spikes. I had blocks assigned to me. A set that they duct taped my name on the underside so no one would mess with the setting. I had two coaches who knew my name and took time every day to time me, train me, and help me grow as an athlete. I ran in races by myself and with relay teams. I won ribbons and trophies and was even in the local paper a few times. “Duckworth Advances to State” was an actual title. I have it in a shoe box in my closet so I can go look at it if I want. It’s a little yellow but it’s real.

So why all the doubt? Why did I worry that one day someone would find me out for the fraud I was? Why did I never accept myself as an athlete?

I had lunch with my friend Karen a few months ago. We hadn’t seen each other in ages but had reconnected through an online course in blogging. We met up one day to talk it all through. Our hopes, our fears, our doubts, our husbands….well, the husband part was just bonus conversation, but we discovered something funny that day. Not funny ha-ha. Funny sad. Each one of us felt strongly that God had put a burning desire in our hearts to write and speak. Both of us were writing and speaking. We both had blogs. We both had worked in professional ministry and done ministry on the side. We both had spoken publicly at events in front of actual people. We both had even been paid (on occasion) for these things. Yet as we sat at that table we discovered we both were very leery of calling ourselves writers and speakers.

“Hello, my name is Tamara and I’m a writer. And a speaker.”

It sounded like a lie to me. I couldn’t do it.

But I plugged away. I finished the course. I became more diligent and purposeful about writing. Even when writing was hard. Even when I wasn’t sure my words had value. I sat down, stared at the blinking cursor, and pounded out the posts. I did it because I learned a long time ago that if you never put your feet in the blocks you can never sprint to the finish line. And if you never practice coming out of the blocks you will probably fall flat on your face on race day.

Last month someone in our online support group for Clumsy Bloggers introduced us to the Write 31 Days Challenge. Could I do this? Could I write for a whole month? Every day? That sounds like something a writer might do and I’m not a real writer so probably not.

But you know that pounding that comes in your heart when you’re about to do something crazy? It’s that pulse rate rising feeling you get when your toes are on the edge of the highest diving board at the public pool and all your friends are watching. I had that. And I knew I had to sign up. I had to commit.

I’ve been plugging away all month; churning out posts day in and day out. I missed 2 days. But I wrote all the rest. I wrote because I committed to writing. That’s what writers do. They commit to writing.

Last week I met a woman at a thing and when she asked me what I do I looked her directly in the eye and said, “I’m the director of children’s ministry at my church and I’m a writer.” I didn’t flinch and neither did she.

Today is the final day of the challenge. I faced my fear and I wrote. Some of it was crap, I’m not going to lie. But some of it was good. Some of it was really good. I trusted in the call God gave to my heart and he has been faithful. He’s always faithful. My prayer is that he will continue to nudge and prod me, like a good shepherd does, so I will continue to press on towards the goal of writing and speaking. I want to continue to hone my craft; to be the best I can be, which is why I’ve joined another course. I want to continue to learn from those who have run ahead of me…those who have run a few races and have a few ribbons to show.

Thank you friends, for holding on tight with me this month. It has been exhausting and exhilarating and exhausting. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off, carb loading, and hitting the track again…next week. But I pose the question to you now. What is your thing? What is the thing you’ve been doing but you think you can’t do? What is the burning desire of your heart? Are you standing at the starting line of something big and denying that you are in the race? It’s time to run, my friend. Run like you have purpose and know that I will be at the finish line cheering you every step of the way.

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For a list of all the posts I’ve written this month, the good, the bad, and the ugly….you can click here.

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