Earlier this summer, in the midst of my challenging marathon training, a conversation between me and my older children began as I lamented about an upcoming long run.
"Mom, if you are getting sick of running, why not just stop running so much."
This led me to share a wonderful analogy with them that flowed perfectly with the challenges they face as teen-agers.
I said, "I know I have the choice at anytime to skip a run, forgo a speed workout, or to even stop my training. But if I do, I immediately give up opportunities I may have had to reach my goal. If I quit or decide to do less than is expected, I may no longer have the ability to run my fastest marathon. By giving up or making choices that are not in "my plan," can make my "potential" in this race unreachable or even impossible.
I want to have the confidence as I stand at the start of my race, armed with the knowledge that although there will be challenges that lie ahead, hills that will be necessary to climb, vales that will require strength to descend, heat that will be beat upon me and long miles to be passed...I have done everything required of me to conquer and reach my goal.
Because I will spend hours training for this very race, I will know I have the potential to reach my goal. I will have the confidence to withstand the challenges I will face and the ability to not only finish strong, but to finish even stronger."
I proceeded to explain to them, "Here you are in the throws of your teenage life. In these few short years, you will face serious challenges and temptations at every corner. You will have the choice to keep with your challenging "training program" or to follow the crowd that tends to lead one down the easier path...a path that does not prepare and can destroy.
If you chose to work hard in your schooling, stay far away from the filth of the world and do your best to "never miss a workout" by participating in wholesome activities, attending church with an open heart and mind and spending time on your knees developing your relationship with your loving Heavenly Father...you will have the ability to conquer all and finish your race.
Sometimes we think the training plan we have been given restricts us, takes away our freedoms and even our choices. But in reality it does the opposite. A training plan strengthens us, teaches us and allows us to have the ability to finish strong. It isn't always easy and it may even seem unfair...until race day. You will be standing at the start of your race, surrounded by thousands of other runners, nervous but completely confident that you can accomplish your goal, because of that very plan.
And because of it, you can.