I was exhausted. Dragging. Flagging. Tired. Grumpy. EXHAUSTED.
I went to physical therapy and I somehow got myself through the workout. Then, from there, I dragged myself to the pool. I was wiped. I didn’t know why, but I was so tired. I was actually emitting strange groaning sounds as I lumbered through the locker room. An older lady laughed at me.
“How far are you swimming today?” She asked.
“Two miles,” I replied. That was my goal, after all.
“Wow,” She said. “Two miles!”
She was the fourth person to whom I had confided my goal for the day. Person Number Four. I kept thinking that if I kept telling people that I was going to swim so far… that I would somehow find the energy to swim so far. But it wasn’t working. I was still exhausted when I got into the pool.
I started to drill… but I felt like I was drowning. So I stopped drilling and just swam a warm up. I was completely out of sync… everything about me was as awkward as a twelve-year old boy asking out a thirteen-year old girl. I could not find a rhythm that I liked.
I finished my warmup and paused. Maybe if I went faster, I would find myself. Maybe if I just got my heart going. That didn’t really work. I took mental stock of myself. I didn’t think I was sick. I had eaten enough that day, so it wasn’t lack of nutrition. I had swum 15 miles over the last 7 days. That was probably it. I hadn’t done that for a while because of my shoulder. I was probably just feeling that. If this workout was only an easy couple miles, that was okay. Just swim, I told myself.
But it’s the hardest thing to just swim when you feel awkward. And for a few of those laps all I could think about was how much I just wanted to sleep.
So… I eeked my way through some pitiful laps and I decided that I would do my butterfly set. There was nothing “fly” about this butterfly, let me tell you. It was ridiculous. But I had so much fun worming my way across the pool! … Before it started to hurt and burn and be awful.
Again… I just wanted to sleep. Zero gumption.
I paused at the end of the butterfly set, only a quarter mile away from the end of Mile Number One. I was just fatigued. I didn’t want to go any further. Just do the 18 more laps and call it good, I told myself. 18.
So I started the 18 laps. While I started, I began to think to myself about all the people I had told that I would swim two miles tonight. I began to think about this blog and all the times I had written about being tired and overcoming that feeling.
“Am I a liar?” I asked myself.
I remembered Apostle Ball’s words when he decided not to buy clothes he desperately needed because he was holding true to a covenant that he had made. I was challenged by the sharpness of his declaration, “I am making my word like Yahweh’s.”
All of the excuses washed tangibly through my body as I was recalled of that phrase. I was tired, I was awkward, I was having a hard time. Just tired. My friend had offered me some advice, too, that I suddenly remembered, also.
“Don’t give up before the first hour is up,” he had said. “The first hour is always the hardest. Then it gets better.”
I kept swimming, calculating, deciding. I was about 8 laps in when I thought to myself that I could do it. I could do Mile Number Two. It seemed so far away at the time of my thinking I could do it. So I told myself that I would just swim and not stop at 18. I made a choice. I had said two miles. I was going to swim two miles. The hard part was convincing myself to actually do it.
I found my groove, right after the one hour mark, like my friend had said that I would. And from there, I kept it up… lap 18 came and I did not stop.
Something in me complained something terrible, but I told myself, “Just 18 more.”
Just another quarter mile. It went quick last time. You can do it.
My awkwardness faded to just ease… a tremendous relief. I kept going. Slow and steady. When that 18 laps faded, I told myself not to stop. If you don’t stop, you will make two miles. And you won’t be a liar. And you will have kept your word. Kept your word to those around you, kept your word to yourself, and to Yahweh. Just don’t stop.
And I didn’t stop for my regular water break at my next half mile mark, I kept on swimming. Through the tired, through the exhaustion. I passed awkward. I kept right on going. My shoulder began to burn before the next quarter mile, but it stopped before I got to the end of that. It stopped. But I didn’t. I kept going.
There it was. The finish.
And you know what I did when I got to the wall on the last lap of two miles?
I did my flip turn and kept right on going.
I did not stop.
I kept going.
When I pushed myself out of the pool at long last, I felt like I met a part of me I had never, ever known. Never knew existed. I not only made it, but I went further. I went beyond what I had said I would. I took a goal and I owned it – I had done that many, many times. I had never tried to do more than my goal, before. I always just try to make it.
My awe and my accomplishment were sister feelings that I could not help but just feel glowing out of me. I couldn’t help how amazed I was. I just stood there for a second.
“How far did you go?” the lifeguard asked.
“Two,” I said, “and a quarter.”
He repeated my answer with a nod. He didn’t seem as impressed as he had been the last time I’d been there when I had done three miles. For a second, I was a bit deflated when I heard the number for the number’s sake. In one sense, yeah, it was only two and a quarter miles.
But to me… it was the farthest I’ve ever gone.
It was as glorious a moment, to me, as standing on the shore after swimming my first ten mile training distance. I knew then, that I could swim ten miles. I know now, that I can exceed my goals and limitations. I can. I can go farther. I can swim harder. I can. Not only can I… but I also showed myself that I will.
I can go beyond me.
And I will go beyond me.
I hope you have days where you stand in awe of yourself, the way you do when you see the Grand Canyon or view a sunset. I hope you have those moments. Because you were created for such glory! The more I get to know myself, the more I just really like who I am and who I am becoming. The more of me I see, the more I see myself doing anything Yahweh has for me to do. Yahweh was so perfect in His creation. He intended for you such excellence! Just let it out! Take you beyond you and into His you for you! It’s amazing!
Try it… one quarter mile at a time…
And just don’t stop.