Thursday, January 19, 2012

Not meaningless

I made it back home tonight after two days on the road. Noah had three appointments at the children's hospital in Salt Lake and one procedure. It is a three-hour drive each way and the weather has been crazy snowy. LONG TWO DAYS. I am super glad to be home (and so is Noah, who was a total angel).

First off, THANK YOU to all of you for your overwhelming support and encouragement in response to my Daring Adventure post. I had a moment of panic after I posted it, but I woke up the next morning feeling excited and pumped about the goal of running in the Olympic marathon trials, and have felt that way ever since.

I did get one comment (of course from "Anonymous") that I wanted to address. Here is the comment-

"I spent my 30's committed (consumed/obsessed) over running... training, competing, striving for PR's at all distances,... I spent so much time, energy (physical, emotional, spiritual) and money on my running. Now in my mid 40's, I eat well and still run 6 days a week to keep my body fit and healthy, but I am not consumed with my running. Oh, how I wish I could have back all that time, energy & money I spent on running throughout my 30's... I could have used that time, energy and money for things that last for eternity. When I die, the Lord will not ask how my training went or what my PR's were... in light of eternity, it is all so meaningless."

First I want to say, that if something happened tomorrow and I could never run another mile, I would not regret a single minute, dollar, or ounce of energy that I have spent on my running. Not one.

I enjoy running.  I would even say I love running. I love how running makes me feel. I enjoy racing. I love pushing myself to get better and faster. I love competing. I love training.

But, I am not consumed with running. I am not obsessed with running. My life is well-balanced. Busy, but balanced.

You could not find a more dedicated and attentive wife or mother than me. I don't know anyone with a happier marriage, and the relationship I have with Josh is my greatest blessing in life. I put a great deal of time and emotional energy into keeping our marriage happy and strong (and so does Josh, which is why things work so well).

I have 12 kids. I take time every day to connect one on one with each of my kids, and of course we have tons of family time. I do all the usual "mom" stuff of cleaning, laundry, cooking, driving, homework, etc. etc. etc. and I handle five therapists and seven doctors/clinics for my son with special needs, along with all of his extra care. (And because I am asked all the time, no, I do not have any help, other than my awesome husband). Being mom is a whole lot of work, but is also a whole lot of fun, and I am more blessed than I ever dreamed I would be.

I have an emotionally challenging job, finding adoptive families for special needs children. I have a church calling. I have treasured relationships with extended family and friends. I pray every day and read scriptures every day. My life is rich and full.

I do not usually write about religion on my blog, but I am a very religious person and wanted to address that part of the comment. I completely disagree that the Lord doesn't care about my running and that it is meaningless. I believe that God gave all of us individual talents and passions, and that He wants us to develop and pursue them. And I believe that when we follow our God-given talents and passions, great things can happen in our lives and we can have a great impact on the lives of others.

In light of eternity, I love my life. I am so very happy with my life. I am a work in progress and there is always room for improvement, but overall, I believe I am doing what God wants me to with my life, and I am proud of how I spend my time, my energy, and my money (the overwhelming majority of all three go to my husband and our kids). To me, and I believe to the Lord as well, it all has great meaning. Does the Lord care what my marathon PR is? Probably not. But I believe He cares about my talents and my dreams.

Running has given me so much. My self-esteem, confidence, patience, and health are all much improved since I started running. I have an inner-peace that I truly believe exists because I found a part of myself that had just been hanging out, waiting for me to discover it. I know that I am a better wife and mother since I started running. And I refuse to feel guilty about the small percentage of time, energy, and money that I put towards myself.

 So no, I don't regret a single minute, dollar, or ounce of energy I have put into my running. The only regret I have about running is that I didn't discover it sooner.

As I chase after my dream of running in the Olympic marathon trials, I am going to keep the same balance that I have in my life now. My priorities are in order. Since I do most of my running while most of my family is still sleeping, it will continue to have minimal impact on the day to day life of my family. At the same time, I will be showing my kids that moms can and should have their own personal talents, interests, hobbies, etc. and hopefully will be setting a good example about not being afraid to follow your dreams and set big goals,  and how hard work and dedication can help you achieve those goals.

37 comments:

Amanda@runninghood said...

Wow. Very well written. I bet this felt good to write...lots of reflection here I bet. Comments like that, although not ill intended or spiteful, definitely dig deep with me and if they sit with me long enough without being able to shake them off, I know that it is an issue important enough to write about or address. You did this very very well. You had me with every word. Amazing woman you are and sounds like you are living with intention, passion, and purpose! Way to use your gifts that God has blessed you with.

Annet and Kirk said...

Amen sista! God wants us to live our life with passion and enthusiasm and love and hope for the future - all of which you clearly do both in running and family. Clearly Anon doesn't realise this. I agree with Amanda that this would've felt good to write and I loved reading it.

Jared said...

Great post. You are right on. Keep up al these great things you are doing.

Lisa@The Daily RUNdown said...

I can't imagine how busy and fulfilling your life must be on a daily basis. I am constantly impressed by every aspect of you everytime I read your blog. I was wondering if you could do a post on your "average" day between running, kids, cooking, cleaning, work, etc. I think it would help everyone of your readers see that if you can make the time, we can too!

coach dion said...

I feel sorry for "Anonymous" because they are so is missing the point of life. I went out with a girl I wanted to married and after 5 years she dumped me, do I look back and say that was a wasted relationship? No it was a great relationship I didn't waste 5 years of my life with the wrong girl. It was the right girl for those 5 years. The same goes for my running, if it ever gets to much, then and only them is it time to back off, but for now I wouldn't be the person I am if I didn't run 7-13 times a week and race 40+ times a year.

I like it that you have one NB goal, and 4 years to get it right. Will you be a bitter person if all the "homework" is done and the logbook says this is the race and something goes wrong!!! I don't believe so, I don't believe you will look back and say I've wasted 4 years of my life.

What do they say: it's better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.

BUT you aren't going to lose, not with 12 kids to help you :)

christa said...

Great post. Follow your dreams, and continue to do all that you do.

Jill Will Run said...

Beautiful response. I agree, you were given these talents (running strong while nurturing your children, you should not set them aside, but grow those! I look forward to reading along as you shoot for the trials! Best of luck!

TMB @ RACING WITH BABES said...

You have such a great perspective. I am always in awe of all that you do. Continue being exactly who you are. It works for you and your family and that's all that really matters,.

Lacey Sue said...

Amen, and amen! I fully- 100% agree with you. First off- I am sorry you felt you had to defend your running, your faith or your family. This is YOUR life...to do with as you choose. God gave you talents, He gave you blessings, and He gave you free agency to use to pursue those things. I believe, with all my heart and soul- you are on the right track babes! Your family is the central part of your life- your running is what keeps your inner your happy and strong...not a darn thing wrong with that! Keep on running- the Lord does NOT consider your dreams and hopes and passions meaningless!!!!! He does NOT! Enjoy your life- it is a beautiful one, just the way it is!

Amy V. said...

I agree whole heartedly that we have all been given talents to use wisely. Some of us have been given talents that others find odd. I have always been teased because I love math and would do it for fun. Now all the neighborhood kids love me because I am always willing to help them. ;) I think your priorities are in the right order and you continue to inspire us to be better at whatever level we are at. God just wants us to be the best version of our self. Keep up the faith and good work!

Jen said...

Great post. I think we are all trying to find he right balance between the different priorities in each of our lives. What works and is right for one person might not work or be right for another. We all have different talents and gifts and I believe we are called to use those to the best of our abilities. It is quite possible for one person's dedication to be another person's obsession. You strike me as having the right balance with your priorities firmly in place. "Anonymous" brought up the religion aspect, you expounded on it, and I'd like to add to it as well. Aren't we supposed to be encouraging one another and lifting one another up instead of tearing each other down? If we do everything we do for God's glory and according to His will, then we won't fall into an obsession or out-of-whack priorities. It is when our motives are in the wrong place that we have trouble. You are an inspiration to so many, and I believe that brings glory to God. It sound like "Anonymous" has now found the right balance for her, and I commend her for that as well...but I'd also like to ask her not to tear someone else down because their balance wasn't the right one for her.

Her Name Is Rio said...

Well said...amen!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Amen to that!

I totally agree with you that the Lord has given us each a talent and to waste it, or not be the best you can be at it, would be inappropriate.

You are indeed a great mom and a huge inspiration to so many. If you can find the time to run and still take care of your 12 kids and find homes for others, you are on the right path of life.

Running to me is spiritual. I am better because I run. I am even better now that I am running every day. I am a more patient loving mom and wife since I am taking care of me too. That doesn't make me selfish but it makes me functional.

Have a beautiful day!

Jill said...

Great response to Anonymous's comment. I also love some of the other comments you have received in response to this post. And the great thing about our Heavenly Father is that He will let you know (if you are listening, praying, studying the scriptures, and trying to do the right thing, which you are) what YOU should do, what is right for YOU, not necessarily for someone else. Good luck with your goals!

ReneighRuns said...

Erin, you are awesome. Keep shining.

Denise Renner said...

This reminded me Chariots or Fire, and the quote: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

Run on!

Kami said...

Erin, I really appreciate your perspective. While I'm certain that the Anon comment was simply meant as a caution against obsession, I think you are absolutely right about pursuing our dreams and developing our talents. We all have to find our own individual balance in life, and it sounds like you are doing just that! This reminds me, once again, that we can't ever judge others. Good luck doing what you love--and writing all about it! :)

Nicole said...

Well said!

Jen said...

Great post. I think people forget that we each have our own experinces.....what might have worked for one person doesn't alway work for the other. You do what you need to do to create your experince and at the end of the day you create your own happiness.

emlizalmo said...

Oh Erin, this is so wonderful. I wonder a bit, if the anonymous comment came because they wish they still had that fire in them. Anyhow, I think the way the Lord feels about US and our hopes and dreams is exactly how we feel about our own children. If they love something, we love it just because they do. If it is important to them, it is important to us. That is how love works. I'm sorry you felt like you needed to explain yourself and how you balance your life. You are a busy, busy woman...but a happy one and one who has a huge impact on those around you...in your town and on the web. :)

Lizzard said...

You are fabulous! Good for you :)

Laura said...

I really appreciated this post. I feel very much like you-- I believe that my priorities are in order, and that running is something God has created me to enjoy and receive pleasure from! Yet, I still doubt myself sometimes and wonder if I'm taking too much time away from other important things. I probably would have been really thrown off by that comment! I resonated with your words, and really needed that encouragement that it is okay to pursue the things we're excited about, even when they don't have obvious family/spiritual value. Thanks for having the boldness to say so!

ConnieKay said...

Well said! I am struggling with balance in my life. I appreciate your honesty.

ConnieKay said...

Well said! I am struggling with balance in my life. I appreciate your honesty.

On the Right Track said...

So, so beautifully written...so well articulated...point so definately understood...to all of us...anonymous or not!

god's plan is in each and every one of us...knowing that takes awareness, seeking to find it takes aspiration, but believing it,living it... takes guts!!

you are an inspiration to us all!

thank you!

harris said...

Erin,
Well said. I find that running gives me time to think about things and reach out to God. Running kept me sane during the difficult times I had with both of my parents illnesses. I don't regret any time I have spent running and you should not either.

Caroline said...

Erin, well said. Perfect response. I have a problem with people who post comments and hide. Who comments and think or assume that they know everything about you.

Christina said...

Well responded! Why on earth would anyone regret accomplishments. A PR is an accomplishment - our lives are full of highs and lows at any age and to reach for a goal and earn a medal and clock a time that becomes a PR - accomplishment!

Addressing it from another perspective, women who are at home raising children and taking care of a household do not often have outlets beyond those areas for finding personal achievement and a sense of accomplishment. Running races provides such a significant sense of personal growth and satisfaction. I can't imagine one should ever feel as if it wasn't worth it.

The comment poster is perhaps suffering from aging depression? Getting older, a sense that PRs aren't coming so much anymore, can be devastating. To now say it was meaningless is more likely just coming from this person's own sense of sadness from aging. (I go through this now with my mother, the aging depression, so I see it often.) We will all get older, face a time when our bodies won't handle what they used to be able to handle. Sports figures go through their retirement and it can be very depressing. But, it should never mean that one's earlier accomplishments were meaningless.

lindsay said...

i don't see our "obsession" as a hindrance either. to me, it's something we love, so we spend time doing it. i think we all have a healthy balance of running and "real life". too bad "anonymous" feels they wasted years of their life.

i am excited for your long term goal! back at the 08 olympics i was like "man i wish i could run in the oly t's one day". maybe we will be there in 2016 together ;) you know, cause my 1/2 mile runs right now are really prepping me for that. haha.

Andrea H. said...

I haven't commented in a while but I wanted to say that I am not the least surprised that you want to try out for the Olympics.
Erin, you are always always graceful no matter what people say to you (speaking from personal experience through our adoption journey, lol:). You are so young but yet so wise. I would run to you in a minute even though much older than you. I find it sad when people comment anonymous. That says a lot about the person. Even though I have been injured for over 2 months and not being able to run, but you lift me up all the time and I cannot wait to get out there again. Keep on doing what you are doing because I know your drive will last not just into your 40is but until you die. And than God will say "WELL DONE, FAITHFUL SERVANT!"

TurboTurtle said...

All I can say is, AMEN, sister in Christ! You are truly an inspiration, and there is no way in this world you could have achieved what you have without God's help. I'll keep you in my prayers as you reach for this next goal.

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

so beautiful. every word.
thank you for sharing and for being so open, honest and real.
this post made me cry.
keep it up erin! you are so truly inspiring!

naomi said...

While you don't speak a lot about your religion on your blog, I read it because of your religion. I am of the same faith, and while I am not active, reading your blog makes me feel connected. I love your perspective, your response and your ability to balance your love for running with all the other things in your life.

Anonymous said...

Hi fellow runners. Anonymous here. I never said that running is meaningless, it is certainly not meaningless and as I stated, I still run 6 days a week. The post came about because of a dear friend of mine who passed away two years ago. He was an older gentleman, an avid runner and competitor/racer his whole life... till he literally could not run anymore. (Yep, the older/elderly gray haired wrinkly man lined up at the starting line.) Oh, what an inspiration he was to me for so many years, but never so much as the last conversation we had. I soaked in his wisdom as he talked with me just a week before he died. He said, "Running is good, it keeps you healthy and strong physically, mentally and spiritually. However, consider the amount of money that is spent on race registrations. As I reflect on my life, what I would do differently is to give that money to things that matter for eternity... families that need help financially to adopt children, food for families who are hungry, wells/filters for clean water in towns and villages,... so many things. Take a year and add up what you spend; it's gut-wrenching... and pray about what God would desire for you to use that money for." I was bawling as he was speaking. His words profoundly affected me then and they continue to do so today.

Ashlee said...

Amen!!! Every dollar I spend on running is worth it! God gave me the passion and talent for running.

Anonymous said...

It's great you can manage all you do. Your husband deserves a standing ovation as well. When I was 34 I felt this way too. I'm now in my 40's w/ 3 kids, horse, dog, husband who works 70 hours/week. So when our newest addition came recently I sacrificed one of my horses - so sad. BUT...I am the proud mom to an Ethiopian beauty and won't regret for a second the decision to simplify and find a home for my best equine buddy. Keep on going, girl! Good work!!! You make me wish I was 34 again :-)!

Holly

Muffin said...

Wow. Twelve kids. :)
Nice post. Great conviction. Best wishes.