Standing there in the cool temperature my whole body felt like electricity was running through it as I rotated through shaking out one arm then the other, one leg and then the other, over and over again. I was definitely in the world of hurry up and wait, surrounded by tens of thousands of others who were in the same space. Then as if the heavens had opened up, a loud voice bellowed out over a sound system, “Three minutes!” The energy in the crowd increased exponentially, and then “BAM!” The sea of humanity went from standing, to jogging, to maneuvering and finally running as the road race began.
Filled with pent up energy and excitement, I wanted to sprint as fast as possible through the obstacle course of bodies, yet the wise mantra of a childhood coach screamed in my head, “Pay attention to your pace! Is this the time to expend a great deal of energy or is this the time to conserve it? You need energy for the whole game. It’s always about endurance!”
In my experience, the vast majority of activities often start with a good deal of energy. Imagination, creativity, preparation, anticipation, commencement are all very dynamic. And as such, initial execution is often accompanied by this great rush. However in most circumstances this initial phase is usually the shortest.
How do we embrace the ‘long game’? Particularly in a world that appears to have an ever shortening attention span. For example, one of the present key components of the pandemic is our ability to navigate its duration. Initially the vast majority people were able to stay home. Yet over time many of us social creatures, regardless of the pandemic’s impacts, are unwilling to continue to stay home and stay safe as we did so vigilantly in the beginning.
Why is pacing, long game living, so hard for so many of us humans? My sense is that endurance is seen as something to be avoided. When perceived or experienced as a challenge, hardship, or unpleasant the goal is to endure, or more specifically, get through it as quickly as possible. The unfortunate consequence of this perspective is living a life of missing the life learning in every moment. Paul wrote to encourage the followers of Jesus in Rome who were experiencing great hardship, “…endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” Our capacity to endure something in fact produces an enormous opportunity to grow more fully into being a hopeful, life giving person.
I wonder what it would be like to view endurance as an invitation. An invitation to learn even more deeply about our God given capacity. Specifically the capacity to become more hopeful.