Running My Own Race

(my own sweaty, slow, beautiful race…)

By the time I ran my first 5K, I had been running for a few years, and each week a 5K was probably one of my shorter runs. But when I lined up for my first race (more like shuffled along with the amped-up crowd, wondering what in the CRAP I had gotten myself into), I was so overtaken by the moment – the adrenaline and buzz of it all – that when the race started, I took off. I was keeping pace with Skinny Legs Lady and Super Outdoorsy Guy and I’m An Exceptionally Athletic Kid…until about a mile into it, at which point I began to lose a lot of steam. That’s actually a gracious way of saying I stopped running and started walking. I had a cramp in my side, I was gasping for air and I was confounded by my situation. I was a runner. I ran, like, ALL THE TIME. I tried to blame it on the mountains, since I was used to running at a lower elevation, but I was worn out and it was my fault.

I had run everyone else’s race. And it bit me in the butt.

There have been moments recently when I’ve felt like I was running someone else’s race…but in Life. I’ve felt like a late-bloomer, having just found my confidence, calling and greatest gifts in my 30s. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever reach my full potential, since I’m a little older than the “fortunate ones” who are figuring things out WAAAAAY earlier than I did.

With this in mind (and at the risk absolutely beating a dead horse with this analogy…poor horse), allow me to explain to you why my run today SUCKED, but why that’s totally ok.

I went running in the middle of an incredibly humid day.
It rained on me, like, 5 times.
The rain doesn’t bother me, but I live in the lightning-strike capital of America (if not the world).
I expended a copious amount of energy on anxiety over the potential for being struck by lightning, then ran along the tree line (read: in straw and sand) as a means of self-preservation.
I could barely breathe the whole time, which rarely happens to me anymore.
My legs felt like anvils.
I could feel my belly jiggling, my everywhere sweating, and my Will To Go On being depleted with every Tree Line Please Jesus Don’t Let Me Get Struck By Lightning step I took.
Then a sad song (something about I’m Never Getting Over You I’m Sad So I’m Writing A Song) came on…and it was basically over.

But I did it. Every sweaty, rainy, splotchy step I took was my way of saying, “I have to do this, even if my way isn’t notable…like, not even a little bit.”

Today I didn’t run a race, but for this analogy, that’s totally what it was; and I had to run my own race. You have to run your own race, too. And not just the race. Life. You have to live your life as well as you can. And your modus operandi is probably going to look different than everyone else’s, and that’s ok.

I’m going to get really Christian on you for a hot second. We were all made in the image of God (super rad, if you ask me). We were all made for a purpose, even if our Today didn’t reveal what that purpose is. We all have different gifts, callings, and passions. This is a GOOD thing.

A world with one type of person would not only be MIND-NUMBINGLY dull, but it would just cease to function.

A world full of Doctors? Great. We would all be working for a pharmaceutical industry that didn’t exist. (Too far? Did I take it too far?)
A world full of teachers? We would crank out a bunch of people who are trained, but not practicing their trades.
A world full of Coffee Roasters? Well. We would be incredibly jittery, with no one to help us, except our fellow, very jittery, coffee roasters.
A world full of Used Car Salesmen? I think we can all agree that this is a terrible idea.
A world full of John Stamos…es? I’LL TAKE IT! Kidding. (but really…)

We can’t be who we’re not. Bottom line.

The weight of comparison is crippling. Please don’t compare yourself. Please stop picking yourself apart in the mirror. Please stop wishing you were as funny as she is, or as driven as he is, or as outgoing as that girl, or as athletic as that guy.

Because we (the world, your family, friends, community) need you to be exactly who YOU are.

I will never be a supermodel (mostly because of the size of my butt…I’ve embraced this).
I will never cure cancer.
I will never win an Oscar.
I will never be an advisor to the White House. I have enough gray hair, thankyouverymuch.

It’s not that I don’t want to strive for great things…It’s just that I  don’t see the need in striving for those great things.

I want to write and publish a book. Two books. Three books. Why not??
I want to release an album.
I want to travel to all 7 continents.
I want to run a marathon (slowly. #duh).
I want to continue to lead worship internationally
I want to be married one day.
I want to show younger women that being single doesn’t have to suck.

These dreams may be lofty for someone else, but I believe they’re part of the race God has called me to run. For that reason, they are completely attainable.

What are your Crazy For Someone Else but Perfect For You goals? What are you passionate about? What are you good at?

Do those things. Be that person… and love others all along the way.

I’ve been running my very own race. Maybe a slower clip, maybe looking around at the scenery (you know, scanning the horizon for lightning), maybe listening to some classical music along the way…but I’ve been running and God isn’t overlooking it.

So neither am I. I’ll take what today has in store. And tomorrow I will embrace tomorrow. This is my prayer for you, too.

– Marty

PS – Now, if I listed “Marry John Stamos” under my “attainable goals” column, would this be:

  1. weird
  2. misguided, at best
  3. school-girlish
  4. totally not weird at all, because you know someone who knows someone who knows someone and…oh look! “John, this is Marty; Marty, this is John.”

…….?

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Jar Jar, Not NASCAR

(I Still Spend Plenty Of Time Going In Circles…)

Since starting this blog I’ve thought about a million things I could write about. I like to think. I like to write. I like to think about writing. I like to write about thinking.

The problem is that I’m one girl with one perspective. Sure, I have many interests, hobbies, and some would even say talents. Perhaps I can offer diversity in writing, but I can really only write from one perspective.

I’m a single Christian girl. Woman. Ew. “Woman” still feels weird to say, because in so many ways I still feel like a girl. I get stupid around cute guys, I feel jealous of beautiful girls, and at least once a month I eat an obscene amount of chocolate and justify it by blaming my hormones (which are totally to blame. Duh). 

If you follow this blog, you may see a pattern over time. There are some things I will probably never write about; play dates, quantum physics, or anything that touches the realm of Science Fiction, for example. I don’t have an arsenal of DIY success stories and I think soccer is incredibly boring. I know almost nothing about NASCAR (being from North Carolina, I almost feel ashamed of this…*almost*). I’m not the most fashionable girl, I don’t follow sports, and I think engaging in online political “discussions” that are basically glorified pissing contests is an utter waste of time. I will probably never have a blog about taxidermy, fishing, or my shoe collection. I don’t have a shoe collection.

These things are fine for other people, and I wish the Fashionable Taxidermist with a hankering for NASCAR the very best of luck. Really. And I may stop by his/her blog, if for no other reason than sheer curiosity.

I can only write about what I love, what I’ve been through, and what I hope will help, encourage, and inspire others.

I write about life.

I recently wrote a post about Jar Jar. You may remember Jar Jar as Liked Me Enough To Tell Me He Liked Me But Not Enough To Do Anything About It guy or The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth Just Kidding guy.

It’s still pretty fresh. I literally wrote the post about 3 hours after I found out he was in a relationship; approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes after the Sweaty Palm Almost Vomiting reflex died down. 

Writing is cathartic for me, so when I processed Jar Jar and his inability to just shoot straight with me, it helped me to realize I deserve more than what he was able to give me. It’s not that he’s not good enough for me (in terms of inherent value), but he just wasn’t able to give me what I needed. Would it be too harsh for me to say, “…the truth, for instance”? Too harsh? Yeah ok, you’re probably right. Honestly, there are probably many ways in which I wouldn’t have been the best for him. 

So I’m not sad. I’m not upset. But I’m in the Singles Boat. It can feel lonely. I don’t have an automatic Plus One. I have conversations like this one (that actually happened):

Me – “I’m going to die alone in a trailer, surrounded by cats and skeins of yarn.”

Unnamed Friend Named Denae (allllllmost sympathetic-sounding) – “Noooooo. That’s not true! You won’t be in a trailer…”

Great. Awesome. Thanks.

If, at this point, you’re tempted to wave the banner of The Modern Woman and yell at me that I don’t need a man, let me just save you some time: I know I don’t need a man. I’m old enough that I’ve lived through a plethora of life experiences without one, proving that I don’t need one. So you can put the banner down. Maybe pack it away with the life-sized poster of N*SYNC I ganked from their concert in 1999. That’s right. I did it.

Sometimes, though, as someone who is completely unattached, it can feel like I’m just drifting in a Lonely Single Boat. Writing about Jar Jar was my way of figuratively throwing a rope to a few other Single Boats on Lonely Pond. 

I’m just saying you aren’t alone. Being single doesn’t mean being alone.

Everything I write, for the time being, is through the lenses of a Single Girl Woman, but not everything will be about being single. I don’t write about being single. However, the situations I experience because I’m single are the means by which God refines me. And I’m embracing being refined by where I am in life – the good, the bad, the grown-up pain-in-the-butt stuff, and the days I want to be in my fat pants ALL. DAY. LONG. All of it. I’m embracing it all.

No matter the season in which we find ourselves, there is something to be learned. And there is value in the experience; even more so when it is shared. Is it pretentious to think that this (or any blog post I write) could somehow fall into the hands of someone who needs to hear exactly what I have to say? Perhaps. But my life is lived in vain if I don’t at least try to help. 

 I know there’s a remote chance my words can help someone. 

And that is why I write.

– Marty

PS – If Zachary Levi wants to read this and be totes inspired and start falling in love with me, I’d be ok with it. I promise to still hang out with Singles on Lonely Pond. You know. For moral support.

 

We’re All In Relationship. Except The Singletons, Who Watch Netflix A Lot.

(Just Kidding We’re All In Relationship, And Relationships Are Messy)

Everyone gets bad news.

The visceral, human response goes something like this:

Oh, %$#!. Great. Now my palms are sweating, my heart just fell out of my butt, and i really really might vom. Everywhere.

While everyone gets bad news, a very special Bad News is reserved for the Single Folk. I left “folk” singular on purpose. It’s a pun of sorts. And I’m from the south.

Even better. I’m over 30, single, AND from the south. It’s great.

I digress.

So. The Bad News that my People (Singletons, namely), have the unique privilege of getting is the “In a relationship” status on Facebook. Staring us down…from the page of the guy/girl who just (and I mean just) expressed interest in us.

I think the Indigo Girls poetically described this feeling:

Guess I wasn’t the best one to ask
Me myself with my face pressed
Up against love’s glass
To see the shiny toy I’ve been hoping for
The one I never can afford

Yep. An obscene number of people come to me for relationship advice. Meanwhile, my face is pressed up against love’s glass, probably looking awful and contorted, and likely inciting adult acne…because my face is PRESSED AGAINST GLASS. It’s gross. And in this case, a sad metaphor for the Singletons among us. There’s a shiny toy – we see it; we’ve even been looking for it – and we can’t afford it. I honestly don’t even know what currency would procure the toy. And even if I did have access to the currency of The Lovely, I’m not sure I would know how to count it.

So there I was. Face against glass. Acne getting worse. Probably super uncomfortable.

“In a relationship,” it read.

Instead of telling me himself, the guy (let’s call him Jar Jar) that pursued me just a few short months ago let me find out on Facebook that he was in a relationship with someone else. His ex, no less.

Am I mad about him being in a relationship?

No. I had the sweaty palms/heart-through-the-butt/vom-face reaction, but that took a matter of moments to get over. I’m really, really ok with the fact that we aren’t together and likely never will be. I think it was a good move on God’s part. Seriously.

Do I think I deserved for him to tell me himself?

On the spectrum of Awkward, that would rank right up there with Watching Your Close Married Friends Mia and Randall Fight, Watching Mia and Randall Make Out, Watching Too-Angry Guy Fly Off The Handle Because His Team Is Losing, or Listening To Anything Ricky Gervais Says At Any Time. So no.

My frustration isn’t that he is in a relationship, nor that he didn’t hand-write a note and Pony Express it to me, declaring the transfer of his affections. He doesn’t owe me anything.

So then where is my frustration?

When he and I had The Talk a few months ago, he gave me a song and dance about “being called to a season of singleness,” “not being in a healthy enough emotional place to be a suitable romantic partner,” and “I don’t think it’s what God wants for us.”

A couple of things to note about our The Talk (I left “our” in there on purpose…everyone’s The Talk is different):

  1. I had to bring up The Talk. He responded by saying that he, too, had been thinking we needed to talk. I mean. Ok fine…I could deal with that.
  2. Our The Talk was via Facebook message – exclusively – until I basically insisted that he call me. I mean. Who has those The Talks over Facebook? Really. I mean…just…really.
  3. When he finally called, he told me he’s had to have these conversations with girls relatively often. Red flag, Sparky. Red freaking flag.
  4. He did, in fact, like me. Ok. Yeah that’s fine.
  5. He then said we should pray about what our friendship should look like going forward – not ruling out the possibility of “us,” but also not holding onto hope. I agreed to this…because I actually did think it was a good idea. I love God. I love prayer. I could have loved Jar Jar.

So I prayed, and I really do believe he (probably) prayed, too.

But then it happened. And by “it,” I mean nothing. Nothing happened. He just stopped talking to me. We went from texting/messaging every single day to almost nothing. It was very abrupt, and without explanation. Just like that, we were gone. I was there. He was there. We were gone.

There would be an occasional “have a great day” text, and an even less frequent  Facebook message that would begin with “Hi, friend” (yeah. loud and clear, buddy).

But other than that, we were gone.

So here’s my frustration:

He didn’t just say what he meant.

I’m not a dude, but from everything I’ve heard, if a guy really wants to be with someone, he will pursue her.

The bottom line, here, is that he didn’t like me enough to want to date me (I think it’s also safe to say he didn’t want to put a ring on it, like, ever).

But when it came down to it, he didn’t just tell me that. He didn’t tell me the root of why we weren’t going to be together. He told me the truth. Just not the whole truth.

I’m not mad that he didn’t want to be with me. Because that would be ridiculous.

I’m hurt that he wasn’t forthright with me – and the It’s Almost Completely True “reason” we weren’t dating that I got from him didn’t hold up. Three months before he started re-dating his ex, he was called to a season of singleness (3 months) and not in an emotionally healthy place (that was fixed in 3 months).

HEAR ME ON THIS – I’m not saying he didn’t grow during that time, nor am I saying God couldn’t have brought him out of the season of singleness. So I’m not bemoaning the things he’s had to go through to get to where he is.

But in the process he was dishonest with me.

My Bad News came in the form of “In a relationship” on Facebook. Thanks, Jar Jar. Singletons know the feeling. But, married or single, we are all in relationships of some kind. Family, friends, co-workers…and in order to keep the Relationship Bad News at bay, we need to have integrity. Maybe it’s a good idea to reexamine how well we love others.

Am I lovingly honest?

Am I forthcoming?

Do I keep people guessing how I feel?

Do I consider others as better than myself?

I haven’t done everything right. Jesus knows. He knows I still mess up, and way more often than I would like to admit. So, you need to know I’m taking my own advice – I’m asking myself the tough questions. It’s less of a New Year’s Resolution, and more of a commitment to walking in the ways of Jesus, Who is Love.

So, here I go. Jar Jar is forgiven (because that is an act of love). I’ve learned. I’m moving forward. Determined to love.

– Marty

PS – Now I’m extremely available for Zachary Levi to go ahead and start falling in love with me.

Accidental Evesdropping

The Too-Smart For His Own Good Guy
(I overheard this while standing close enough to eventually interject)

Guy: “Yeah. I wasn’t at church last week because I was taking the SAT.”
Girl: “Oh cool. How do you think you did?”
Guy: “Oh. I aced it. I’m pretty sure I only missed, like, three questions. I could probably tell you which ones. My score will be nearly perfect.”
Girl: “Wow. Well…Congrats…How do you feel?”
Guy: “I’m muy cansada.” *looks impressed with his bilingual self*
Me: *turning slightly from the coffee I was just preparing for myself* “Actually, you’re cansado. Because you’re a dude. I’m guessing the SAT wasn’t in Spanish.”
Guy: *looking slightly embarrassed* “Uh…yeah…”