It’s the middle that’s the toughest

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I love the beginning of a run. Truth is, beginnings are always fun.  You are full of excitement, full of plans, full of energy.  At the start of a run I have to hold myself back sometimes, because I know there are miles ahead of me and I can’t give everything I have right away, I have to save something for the middle miles.  Because the miles in the middle are the most difficult.

This came to me on my run this morning.  Honestly, I almost didn’t go.  My alarm went off at 5 am and I got up and saw that it was pouring down rain and windy and going back to bed sounded so good.  But I was already awake and, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have gone back to sleep and my kids were going to be up in 30 minutes and, and, and.  So I went.  And from the moment I was out the door I felt awesome.  Really, the first 3 miles ticked off like nothing and I just kept going.  But after about 3.5 I came back to reality and remembered that Chris needed to go to work and I needed to get back home.  So I found a good place to loop back to the house.

And I was confronted with a giant hill. Something about that hill combined with my realization that I needed to get home so my husband could go to work and the fact that I had 4 miles to get there suddenly made me feel like I was barely moving.  Minutes before I had felt like I was flying down the road but at that moment of turn around, even though my actual pace was essentially the same, I started feeling like I was barely moving faster than a walk.  Because the middle section is hard.

I feel like this applies to almost everything. At the beginning of the school year everything is wonderful! Your kid has new clothes! Her teacher is great! He has made so many new friends!  Learning is fun!  But then, around about January, it’s all so much work and the homework and the new friends stopped talking to me and my teacher is mean.  By the time the end of school rolls around, though, it’s all we have to stay in touch over the summer and you’re my favorite teacher ever and good memories.  Because you persevered through the hard stuff and received the reward of a job well done.

I think it applies to marriage too, although I think there are several beginning-middle-end cycles in marriage.  You get married and it’s so wonderful and he’s so sweet and his quirks are just so cute.  And then you realize that you have to live with this guy every single day and sometimes he doesn’t seem so wonderful or sweet and those quirks are actually kind of annoying.  But you press on past these growing pains and settle in to something comfortable and lovely, until the next cycle starts!

I guess there is a kind of high that comes with the beginning of things.  Everything is so new and exciting.  But new and exciting becomes old and mundane.  And it’s in that middle section, when confronted with the old and mundane, that you have to make the choice.  Are you going to stick with this old and mundane thing, even though it seems hard and boring?  Or are you going to give up and go looking for something new and exciting?

Because, sure, new and exciting is fun.  But it’s not great.  Great is the end of the run, when you’ve enjoyed the new and exciting and when you’ve worked through the difficult parts.  The end of the run is the best part. Sure, you are tired and you’ve given a lot of yourself to this run.  But you are also stronger, a lot stronger.  And ready to take on the next thing.  Beginnings are exciting, the middle is tough and may require discipline, but the end is the reward.  Keep fighting for that reward.