I began my medical residency with a cross around my neck and a Bible in the pocket of my white coat. The three or four years of residency are when a new doctor truly learns her craft. It is a grueling test of stamina and courage—like war—when much of what we see and even do is horrible and hard to explain to anyone not living it, too. We work on catnaps and irregular food and follow a strict hierarchy that leaves little room to question orders and decisions. The stakes are high, and mistakes are harshly punished. I had been warned by those before me to hold onto my faith with two hands, and I pondered this advice as often as my sleeplessness would let me.
This was a trail run I did in Vail this summer… my best run in a long time (and since).
For example, take the BolderBoulder. I knew I had run 7 miles at a 10:40 pace. So I expected to run my 10K im 1:06. When I had to take nearly 2 weeks off before the race because of an ankle sprain and an episode of back pain, and then took a way-too-long bathroom break and a didn’t run at my personal best, I was disappointed with my time. Rather than thinking, “Wow– a year and a half ago I couldn’t even walk a mile without wondering if my knee would give out and NOW! Hooray!”, I beat myself up, thinking those extra 5 minutes were a sign of my weakness. Lameness. Lack of effort. (I could go on, but, well… I won’t.)
I just had a personal best in a 5K a month ago (running 10:35 minute miles) and then crashed (figuratively), before my Thailad trip with another week of back pain and no exercise. My first morning back trying to run, I realized that I torqued my ankle again and couldn’t even bear the pain to run. (I guess the back pain was so bad I didn’t notice that I sprained my ankle when I fell?) And I spent the first 10 minutes of my
run walk berating myself…
Until I stopped. I hauled my thoughts back to sanity and came to this conclusion:
Not every run is going to be a personal best.
Not every day at work– or in our home school– is going to be one I want to repeat.
I cannot spend my life functioning at my personal best– or expecting myself to do so.
Rather than turning a really good day (or good run) into the new norm, I need to recognize it for what it is: a gift. Not a new standard. Then maybe I can have a little more grace with myself and all that life throws at me.
Have you had a bad run recently that sent you into a mental tailspin? Or a good day that made the you resent what a normal day looks like? Please share.
We had a hard day last week. I dreamt of Haiti– vivid, restless dreams full of faces I met there– and realized in the morning it was the 2nd anniversary of their earthquake. My day began with a morning doctoring meeting that required a sitter (and then a friend’s generous offer to fill in when the sitter got the stomach flu). Later I called a friend who’s just moved away, and she told me her husband broke his back. So many heartaches surround us. I tried to read history to the children at lunch, but SweetP talked through the whole thing. I tried reading louder. I took us to the map to find Portugal and Japan… and no one knew either. I asked J to narrate, and he looked at me blankly. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” he asked.
Grace, grace, grace. I need more of it every day. I want to be a fountain of it: to my children, to my husband, to my friends, to those vulnerable ones– sick and frightened and often uninsured– who seek my care at the office.
Will share in the comments a moment of grace you’ve experienced recently– on either end!– as an encouragement to all of us?
And then will you go hug those close to you and pour some grace on them? Thanks.