Today my swim instructor asked me a question I hadn't thought about yet regarding my triathlon race.
He asked me, "What's the payoff?" I looked a bit confused I think and he clarified, "what do you get if you do this?" I looked up at him from the pool and answered, "I want to finish and finish well." He looked a little stunned. Then he smiled down at me and said, "That's great!".
I have been thinking about that all day. I didn't really think long about the answer, it just came out once I understood what he was asking. It's really how I feel about everything I do.
How well I do something is really only up to me. God will give me strength to go farther than I think I can and with my faith in Him I can do the stuff that is hard for me to do, the Holy Spirit gives me the insight on what to pursue and when, but in the end, here on this earth, I am using all He has given me to live this life to the best of my ability.
Take my marriage for example, what's the payoff there? I work hard to be respectful of my man. I choose daily to make decisions that will bless my husband and my marriage. The interesting thing is that I have found concerning my marriage is that it is more about me and my relationship with the Lord then my relationship with my husband. It is God that I told I would love, honor and cherish my husband. Yes, I told him too, but my commitment was made to God. I don't get to be comfortable in our marriage. I get to chose to walk by faith and believe God is at work in my life (whether I like it or not) through my husband. Everywhere I feel a lack - it is God's job to fill it. Erik, he is human and his heart is for me but he won't always get it right. But, my God, He always knows what I need, and He loves me enough to give it to me. When I receive what God provides, it is easier to face the challenges or even disappointments of marriage. In the end, I want to "finish well". When I stand before God at the end of my life and I have to answer for the decisions I have made, I want to know I did every thing He asked me to, regardless of my personal comfort.
And my parenting. Finishing well in the process of parenting feels like a moving target. And, honestly, I think it is. As you start to adjust to your kids, they change and you have to start again. Does that mean I shouldn't try though? Every day I want to reflect what I am learning from the Lord onto my kids. I want them to know the process and not just the end result. I frequently repent to God and then to them for unfortunate choices in my attitude and my behavior. Praying in front of them about my failings makes them aware that it is OK for them to make mistakes and then to know what to do to bring healing to the situation. They know I am not perfect, and my confessions and repentance and then asking Jesus and them to forgive me makes it okay for them to make mistakes too.
You see, God made us to finish well. There is nothing He created that is incapable of doing that. Free will allows us to make the choice about whether we will or not.
I want to finish well. That is my pay off.