That’s how many I’ve run so far in 2016! That’s my first milestone. Back in 2014 I set a goal of 100 miles. Unfortunately I fell short and finished at 88. 88 miles in 12 months. 7.3 miles a month. Ugh. For comparison I’m currently averaging about 34 miles a month.
And I have faced both norovirus and the flu in 2016. In your face 2014 Mike!
No. 2014 Mike was the man! He and his 7.3 miles a month may not have meant much to the “real” runners out there, but I wouldn’t be where I’m at now had he not gotten off his butt and hit the road. That first year I didn’t get a single bit of recognition from anyone (besides Kristan). No one cared. No one noticed. That’s no one’s fault.
The beginning of change is not all that noteworthy.
I kept at it. Some months have been better than others. I increased my miles by 110 in 2015. I stopped joking about “only running when being chased” and owned my desire to really be committed to this thing.
Then today, something big happened. A neighbor, who doesn’t really know me all that well, saw me as I was leaving my house. She called out from her porch right as I was ending my pre-run warm up, “You really run a lot!”. To her, a person who doesn’t know my lazy past, I’m a runner.
I wasn’t even feeling it today. It was cold and I was full from eating half a cheese ball leftover from the baby shower that went down in my house. Alas, I knew I had to run (you know, because of the cheese ball) so off I went. That neighbor gave me some big motivation as I took off!
3 years. It was really nice to have someone notice.
That’s the tough thing about changing your life. A lot of the time all the hard work you are putting in is completely unnoticeable to everyone else. Sure, if I shave my head people are going to catch on, but that is exactly my point – Unless it’s drastic and immediate it flies under the radar of everyone else. Ask someone who has lost a tremendous amount of weight, most people don’t start noticing until after they have dropped the equivalent of a 3 year old. Do you know how much work they put in before someone even finally asked them, “Have you lost a little weight?” This actually happened at church last week. I noticed that a guy was looking a “little” slimmer. When I asked about it he said, “Yea, I’ve lost 50 pounds”. FIFTY POUNDS! He was killing it for months and I had no idea!
That’s the physical stuff. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that any internal change is going to go completely unnoticed to all but your very closest friends.
Years ago I was so competitive that I would get frustrated if Kristan and I were both driving somewhere and she beat me there. Seriously. I wouldn’t tell her it frustrated me because I didn’t want her to know she married a crazy person, but yea. When it came to basketball or Halo it was worse. Monopoly…I almost lost friendships over Monopoly.
But God did a good thing in me. I was made aware of the need for change and I committed myself to it. Some things I just don’t do because I know I may not handle it well, but that’s wisdom I didn’t once have. Then there are some things that I’m able to navigate relatively without issue.
I’m not perfect, but 2016 Mike compared to 2006 Mike is like seeing a person who dropped 100 pounds. I’m a different man when it comes to competition. Unfortunately, because of the nature of that kind of change, no one sees it like I see it. No one will ever stop me in the middle of a game and say, “Mike, I have noticed how different of a person you have become…you should be proud of yourself”
That makes change REALLY hard. When it comes to following God and becoming more Christ-like, the reality is most of the change we will ever experience will be slow. Our lives are different as a result of time and discipline. We won’t get the “Atta boy” for most of what God does in us.
But you’ll see it. The benefits that matter, you’ll receive.
After all, it’s nice that my neighbor noticed my commitment to running, but I realized my motivation a long time ago: Kristan. Nolan. Asher. Me. Honoring God’s gift of life. That’s what matters. I don’t care about being noticed. I care about being around. I care about changing my life so that I exemplify health and commitment to those who are in my care.
The “Before and After” picture of your spiritual life may be a radical transformation and go completely unnoticed. Our embrace of change in our lives, however, isn’t for recognition. It’s a race we run to finish well, not for praise, but for God’s glory and our spiritual health.
This may be your first year of really trying to make something happen. It might suck. You’ll look back on the immaturity of 2016 and think, “Wow, I was so far from God when I got started”. That’s not the story you’ll tell. You’ll speak of 2016 as the first chapter of the story that led to something amazing in your life: Change. It doesn’t happen overnight. Time and discipline change your life, not decision. The decision to change matters, but what you do next is what will ultimately define you.