Thursday, December 24, 2015

Lessons From Dirtbags And An Iron Addict: Failure

It was a beautiful Midwestern afternoon in June: the skies were blue, the trees were green, and the sun was shining. I found myself alone, wearing spandex in a public park with “El Chucho” (the mutt), my bright green cyclocross bike.  We were surrounded by empty tents and unused port-a-potties. My legs were screaming in pain, my stomach was turning itself inside out, and my mind had betrayed me hours ago.

Our day started in Duluth, 116 miles north of this park, with thousands of other riders. For them, today was the first half of a two-day, 150-mile ride that brings awareness to Multiple Sclerosis and raises funds to research its cure. I, having ridden the course in two days the previous year, had ventured to complete the entire thing in one day.

That meant that at mile 75 complete solitude started.

At mile 76 I started second-guessing myself.

At mile 80 my legs started cramping.

At mile 104 every pedal stroke added to the longest distance I had traveled on my bicycle in a single day.

At mile 109 I started dry heaving while riding down the two-lane, country highway.

At mile 116.2, in that ghost town of an aide station, I decided that I was done.

I simply didn’t want to spend the next two or three hours continuing to pedal in agony, alone and unsure of my route. So, I locked Chucho to a tree, walked to a nearby gas station, and bought a protein shake, a liter of water, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and a bag sour patch kids. After walking back to the park, I sat down on a bench, and pulled my cell phone out of my jersey pocket. With a mouthful of food I starting calling friends who lived nearby: a car would be delivering me the final 34 miles of this route.

The question that haunts me now, 6 months after the fact, is this: did I fail on that day?

I had said I was riding the entire 150 miles in one day.

I rode 116.

So, in simplest terms, I failed.

The problem with being a recreational endurance athlete is that my “events” come once every month or two at best. I don’t have a weekly opportunity to put a mark in either the W or the L column like the athletes in organized team sports have. So, when those marks do fall into a column, they fall heavily.

Luckily the third thing I’ve learned from C.T. and the dirtbags is that there are multiple definitions of failure.

I think C.T. would say that I failed. One of his frequent adages is: ISYMFS, an acronym for “It’s Still Your Mother F---ing Set.” No excuses. Do what you set out to do. Don’t show up unless you’re going to perform. 

This definition’s beauty is it’s binary simplicity. You either performed in the way you said you would or you didn’t.  If I had been in this mindset during my bike ride, it wouldn’t have mattered how bad my body hurt, how long it took to finish, or even how sick I got; I would have needed to finish, no matter what, at all costs.

Luckily, the dirtbags offer a very different perspective on failure.  It is, on some level, inherently and intrinsically part of the sport of rock climbing. Everyone falls. Everyone experiences injuries and setbacks. For the dirtbags, and all climbers, failure is part of the process of progression. Failures line the road that, if followed to its finish, leads to success and accomplishment.

What I like most about this definition is that coming up short isn’t the end of the matter; it’s an opportunity to learn and move on. The true failure under this definition is giving up, not continuing to progress, and not learning from the times we do come up short.

I learned a lot about myself on that day in June. I learned how damaging and defeating negative self-talk is. Always. I learned what to eat and drink when trying to ride over 100 miles in a single day and what not to. I learned that I mentally impose limits on myself that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I learned that sleeping in a tent the night before a ride makes EVERYTHING harder the next day. I learned that solitude transitions from being my sanctuary and sanatorium to a state of torment, often rapidly and without much warning.

I learned that the only way I failed that day was in mileage and that the only way I can fail after the fact is by not taking the lessons from that day to heart and applying them to future endeavors.

 Me Riding El Chucho Toward Success

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lessons From Dirtbags And An Iron Addict: Paying The Price


In March of 2011 I found myself with 4 of my friends in a brightly colored room, sitting in hammocks after a very long day of travel. The windows, which only had bars on them, allowed the night sounds of the jungle to waft in on a cool breeze. This moment was the culmination of months of dreaming, planning, doubt, failure, recruiting, fundraising, success, positive affirmation, and stress. My friends and I had just arrived at the Dyer Rural Hospital in the mountain village of Rio Viejo, Honduras for a weeklong mission trip that I was leading. I had spent the previous night unable to sleep, smoking cigarette after cigarette in between episodes of SCRUBS worried that one more obstacle would arise and end the trip before it even started.

But now, we had made it. Our bags were unpacked in the dormitory below and we were talking with the hospital’s staff about the work we would be doing over the next few days. That night I heard a phrase that has stayed with me for almost 5 years now. While explaining on why a mission hospital has fees for its services, Dr. Martin Williams, the hospital’s founder and main physician, said, “Everything that is valuable has a price. Everything that has a price is valuable”. The price/value equilibrium is why the word obsession often carries a negative connotation. In most people’s personal lexicons obsession simply implies a price that is too high to pay.

C.T. and the dirtbags certainly would certainly agree with Dr. Martin. They put a high value on their obsessions and pay a very high price in pursuing them. After dying on the operating table 3 times during emergency open-heart surgery, C.T. Fletcher was advised to never lift weights again, literally at the pain of death. But, he was obsessed with being a great power lifter. So, he returned to the gym, stating he’d rather die doing what he loved to do than live without being able to do what he loved. Dirtbags frequently sacrifice their comfort and physical health in the pursuit of their obsession. They face inclement weather and inherent physical peril for days on end to reach previously unreached summits.

There also is a hard-and-fast monetary cost to pursuing passions. Jay Cutler, a former Mr. Olympia and contemporary of C.T. claims that he spends over $100,000 a year on food and supplements in order to be a professional bodybuilder. Part of the reason dirtbags choose to live out of their cars, other than the freedom of mobility, is that having a mortgage simply isn't an option. The quality and quantity climbing gear needed to become an elite level climber costs THOUSANDS of dollars and is in constant need to be repaired and replaced, the money just isn't there to have gear and a home.

When identifying our own magnificent obsessions we run the risk of pursuing things that either have too little value or too high of price. The first seems to be the more obvious one to me. Obsessions are by definition costly, so if I state that my ‘magnificent obsession’ is getting out of bed before 10am and brushing my teeth twice during each 24-hour period I’m alive, it’s achievement will have very little value to me, like a dime store trophy given out to participants who simply showed up. That ‘obsession’ would require too little from me: only a small amount of devotion and sacrifice. Small price can only carry with it a small amount of value, plain and simple.

With the help of hindsight I am able to admit I have much more experience with the second pitfall: finding that continuing in the pursuit of my obsession comes at a price that is higher than I am willing to pay. I spent three years of my life attempting to be accepted into medical school. In monetary terms I spent thousands of dollars on post-baccalaureate classes at the tech school and the university in my city, took the MCAT twice (at $300 a time plus additional money for study materials), and spent hundreds of dollars on submitting the applications themselves. I spent hours of my time attending and studying for classes, writing essays for applications, and pursuing extracurricular activities that would improve my application. I did all of that work, spent all of that money, devoted all of that time, and even got a medically themed tattoo on my arm only to be rejected by all the schools I applied to, twice. After the second round of rejection letters arrived I took a few months to look at what I would need to do to improve myself as an applicant. It honestly was overwhelming. I had run out of motivation and the cost of pursuing entry into medical school or any other job in the medical field was too high. That experience reminds me of a parable of Jesus that is recounted in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus was addressing people who wished to be His disciples and He advised them to understand the cost that pursuit carries.

Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  
--Luke 14:28-30 ESV—

This truth also applies to the pursuit of magnificent obsessions that are truly worth our time:

What will the cost be? What will it require of us?

Are we able and willing to pay that cost?

In the end, will they be worth it?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Lessons From Dirtbags And An Iron Addict: Redefining Obsession

If you were to look at my YouTube viewing history for the past week two major themes would be evident: dirtbag rock climbers and C.T. Fletcher.

Some further explanation is needed…

“Dirtbag” is not a disparaging title in the climbing community; it’s actually a compliment. Dirtbags are considered to be ultra-committed to the craft of climbing. They live out of their cars or in tents year-round as near to the rock faces they’re climbing as possible. They forego pursuing traditional careers and building families in order to spend as much time climbing as possible.

C.T. Fletcher is on the opposite end of the physical spectrum from the dirtbags. While they are lean and wiry, he’s massive. He’s a former world-champion, record-holding power-lifter who has certainly earned the moniker that he has given himself: “The Original Iron Addict”. Today C.T. is a gym owner, fitness personality, and motivational speaker with an over-the-top persona that uses profanity as often as a valley girl uses the word “like”.

Now, I have no aspirations whatsoever to be a power-lifter or an elite climber. So, why have I been watching these videos for hours on end? To put it simply: they speak to my heart. Their subjects have taught me a great deal about having lofty dreams, setting equally lofty goals, and doing what is necessary to realize those dreams and goals. So, this is the first part of a four part series about what I’ve learned from these dirtbag climbers and the Original Iron Addict.

Lesson One: Redefining Obsession

Talking to people about obsession gets a little tricky, because, by most people’s definition, it has a negative connotation.

Merriam-Webster defines obsession like this:
a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling

A Google search will lead you to this definition:
an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind

Neither one of those definitions seem like they would or should be part of a healthy, well-balanced person’s life.

The dirtbags and C.T. would say that they are obsessed with being masters of their craft, in fact many of them are. When they talk about the obsession that mastery requires they don’t use words like “disturbing” or “intrusive”, but rather they talk about being passionate, determined, and focused. They talk about elevating their dreams and accomplishing what most would consider to be impossible.

What is most amazing to me about C.T. and the dirtbags is that they openly admit their obsessions carry little weight outside their small spheres of athleticism. The world isn’t more peaceful because Everest has been summitted and we aren’t any closer to finding a cure for cancer because C.T. has 22-inch arms. But that certainly hasn’t been a deterrent.

I'm beginning to understand that healthy obsession must be deeply personal. No one would put in the necessary effort to attempt, much less achieve these feats because they wanted a pat on the back, hear “atta boy”, or get a piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall of their office. These obsessive endeavors begin as ideas and only mature because the individual themselves puts such a great value on striving towards them.

In addition to changing my personal definition of obsession, the dirtbags and C.T. have also inspired me to start dreaming about what my own magnificent obsession can be.

What is worth devoting my time, my heart, my mental faculties, and my physical strength to?

What is worth losing sleep, maybe some blood, or even my life for?

What goals require a path which, if travelled upon regardless of outcome, will be more rewarding than the possible accomplishment itself?

I personally have a very simple answer to these questions. From a distance my magnificent obsession is simple and beautiful. But a closer look reveals complexity, an intricate orchestration of thousands of tiny details that together become grander than their simple sum.

So, what’s your magnificent obsession? What are you willing to do to accomplish it?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When Father’s Day Is the First Day of Summer: An Ode to Those Who Fathered Me in my Youth

This year, the first day of summer fell on the 3rd Sunday in June.

Father’s Day, your day, has the most light our year will offer.

As I watch the sun finally concede its end

and transfer the domain of  our world over to the night,

I think about those summer nights,  ♪oh those summer nights♪.

Those summer nights we spent together were as different from Danny and Sandy’s

as the fleeting day is from the fast approaching night.

Instead of chasing that illusive specter I’ve come to know as teenage romance

I spent those nights basking in your love,

Soaking it in as we watched our bobbers float on the end of translucent lines in between lily pads while listening to baseball on a radio powered by D-Batteries.

Not speaking much but saying volumes to each other.

Then later on those summer nights we’d gather lawn chairs into a circle,

So we could watch orange, yellow, and crimson minstrels dance on a stage the that we made of pine, oak, and ironwood.

You’d tell me stories of when you were my age and I’d listen as I roasted marshmallows, drank Sprite, and ate French-onion flavored Sun Chips.

There were those Summer Days too.

We spent them floating in foreign lands where the conifers dwarfed us in size and outnumbered us in population

and it was more likely to see a moose than an unfamiliar face.

There’s the raspberry patch in the backyard

Where I’d act like a baby bird, opening my mouth skyward and chirping

Waiting expectantly for you to gently place those freshly picked berries onto my tongue like a communion wafer.

Earlier yet there’s those summer mornings

When my alarm clock wasn’t an evenly timed electronic beep,

but rather the scent of pancakes and sausage links wafting through my bunk bed.

There’s the cribbage board set between us on a red-and-white-checkered plastic tablecloth

We’d play game after game while being serenaded by the duet of rainfall on the tin roof over our heads and polka music playing in the next room.

These memories and so many others you’ve placed into my hands like seeds to be planted

Some slipped through my youthful fingers and rolled away,

Only to be found flourishing in dusty corners and under half-read books while I’m looking for something else entirely.

Some you helped me plant right away in the fertile soil of my young heart

There they’ve grown and blossomed, producing sweet fruit that begs to be savored and shared.

The rest I’ve kept tucked away safely like precious jewels.

I’m saving them for the hearts of the children I will father

So that your legacy of love will flourish even beyond my lifetime

So, today, on your day, the tipping point of the never-ending, always changing battle between light and dark for the 24 hours we call a day

I simply want to say THANK YOU.

Thank you for being a father to me in the summers of my youth and those beyond.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I Don’t Condemn You

I Don't Condemn You

I’m thrust before you, caught in the very act,

Surrounded by dark shadows and choking dust.

I’m afraid.

Afraid that you’ll see through the coverings I’ve made for myself from the leaves of office plants and dental floss,

Paired with a sharp wit and a charming smile.

I’m afraid you’ll sense the dark, stinging liquid coursing through my veins,

Smell the rancid smoke that fills my lungs,

And see the sick desires of my heart.

I’m expecting fire to fall from the sky and render your judgment upon me.

Instead you drop to your knees and use your finger to draw in the dirt,

Silently and intently.

You draw for a long time.

The silence persists as the dust settles and the shadows leave.

The last vapor of darkness disappears from before my eyes and your gaze shifts from the art at Your feet to my face.

Your lips begin to move and I cringe,

Expecting a clap of thunder, the crackle of a blaze, and the smell of charred flesh.

Instead I hear a caring, gentle whisper asking me,

“Where are those that condemn you?”

I look around, they’ve disappeared.

But, I’m convinced that they’ll be back,

Returning in the dead stillness of the night like they always do

Starting as a whisper that steadily crescendos into a deafening chorus that sounds like my own voice.

You see, my greatest accuser, Satan, is a sick ventriloquist.

He warps and throws his own lies to make them sound as though they are coming from the top of my own throat.

I’ve heard these shameful melodies so often that I know all the words

And all too often I’ve added my own baritone drawl to the choir.

Even now I begin to hum one of those all-too-familiar choruses

But You stop me.

“It’s only you and me here,” You whisper “and I don’t condemn you.”

Your words sound too good to be true

So I begin to sing and sing loudly, louder than when I’m alone in my car and a Taylor Swift song comes on the radio

I’m hoping to drown out your gentle words and erase them from my memory.

You simply repeat what You’ve said, “I DON’T CONDEMN YOU”

At Your words the shameful choir falls silent,

The sky opens up and glorious light pours through accompanied with angelic harmonies

I finally hear Your promise

And I believe it.

I look down, the dental floss and plastic leaves are gone.

They’ve been replaced by a brilliant white robe and a glorious crown.

You help me to my feet, put Your hands on my shoulders, look into my eyes and state,

“I don’t condemn you. Go, sin no more. Be free.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Selah: My First Lesson From 13.1

Selah. It’s a Hebrew word that shows up 73 times in the Psalms. It strikes me as odd most of the time when I come across it while reading. What’s an untranslated Hebrew word doing in my English (or Spanish) Bible? I did a little searching online, the simplest (and best) definition I found is “A call to pause and reflect”.

I need to answer the call of Selah in my life. A week ago I completed my first half marathon and one thing it made blatantly obvious is that I struggle with both parts of Selah.


It has been a legitimate struggle for me over the past week to pause and take a break from running (and serious exercise for that matter). I simply don’t feel at ease while taking a break: for instance while I’m at work I don’t take a lunch break, I simply eat my food while completing a task or in between customers at the cash register.  I don’t know when I learned to equate staying busy with self-worth but it must have been early in my life because it runs deep. Unfortunately, all it really does it leave me feeling tired and overwhelmed by all the tasks I’ve tried to cram into one 24-hour period with the hope that I’ll stay busy enough to feel valuable.

The biggest thing for me is realizing that there is a difference between pausing and quitting. Pausing implies a temporary break with the intention of continuing, while quitting is permanent. I’ve noticed that when I’m watching a movie I will hit pause to go grab snacks or use the bathroom if I’m engaged in the plot development, but if I have something playing just to “fill the void” I’ll leave the room and miss good chunks of the movie without much care. We pause when things are important. I want to continue running and biking long distances, and in order to do that I need to pause and take time to rest and recover.


Mirrors allow us to see ourselves, take stock of how we look, and make any modifications we deem necessary. I would say that I’m not overly concerned with my physical appearance but I can’t imagine even going even a day without seeing my reflection. I certainly don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of time reflecting upon my thoughts and actions as I do looking at my physical appearance in the mirror. This is probably why I don’t allow myself to rest: I don’t take time to acknowledge my own accomplishments and give myself credit where credit is due.

Over the past week I’ve struggled a lot with feeling shame about not lifting weights at the gym, going for runs, or logging training miles on my bike. I’ve needed to shout to myself “YOU JUST RAN 13.1 MILES! ALLOW YOURSELF TO REST.” A half marathon is no small feat; I forget that. I also forget that when I started running in October I would have been happy to be running 5k’s by now. On top of all that I also forget that I finished more than 2 minutes under my goal of 2.5 hours, which was a pace that I thought would push me beyond my limits even under the best circumstances.

I’ve always been terrible at rest and it has been to my detriment as an athlete and a person. The simple solution is to incorporate “Selah” into my life, set up markers within my routine that beckon me to take pause, reflect on what I’ve accomplished, and give myself permission to rest and recover in order to continue doing the things that are important to me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Goals: Better Late Than Never

As of yesterday, I’ve been 28 for an entire month and until very recently I hadn’t set or announced any definite goals for my 28th year. It isn’t that I haven’t been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish this year, I have been. I simply found it hard to make a complete yet concise list.

Over the past couple days, I set aside time to compile and edit the list of my hopeful accomplishments for my upcoming year. There are things like completing a half-marathon, practicing music on a regular basis, and developing myself as a leader. Overall, my goals fall into one of three categories.

(1) More Value, Less Volume

I learned this principle from being an endurance athlete and I want to apply in other areas of my life as well.  My diet, my media habits, and how I spend my time could all benefit from a little less quantity and a lot more quality. This is not to say that I won’t ever go to McDonald’s this year, drink excessive free refills of Caribou coffee,  or binge watch clips from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on YouTube; I just hope to do those things with less and less frequency.

(2) Changing My Lenses

In all actuality I will probably need to get new glasses this year and with new glasses will come a (slightly) better perception of the world that surrounds me.

Metaphorically I hope to see my world in a more positive light in the coming year. There are bad things and terrible situations in the world, and I refuse to gloss over them. I won’t ever try to put a positive spin on things like cancer, war, or poverty; things like that are simply and completely terrible. However, I do find there are a lot of “neutral” things in my life. Unfortunately, my default mode is to interpret them negatively and use them to deprecate myself and my life choices.

One good example of this is my bed. I have a pretty small room in the house I’m renting. In fact, I’m fairly sure it was never meant to be a bedroom because it doesn’t have any closet space whatsoever. When I moved into the house last January my solution to the lack of storage space was to loft my bed and use the space underneath as a closet. It works pretty well, but makes my sleeping situation a bit comical. When I lie on my back I have about 8 inches of space between my face and the ceiling, so I refer to my bed as "the sleeping pod". So, I’m given the option of viewing this as a negative: let’s be real, I’m 28, I should sleep like an adult in an adult bed. I might as well have a race-car bed frame, right?  I can also view this as a positive: I’m 28 and I still get top bunk, which is awesome! Plus, I’m living within my means using the space I have to its full potential.

(3) Keep on Keepin’ On

The movie Joe Dirt is a classic for many reasons, one of which is that it is full of little nuggets of wisdom, like the quote above. I’m a pretty great guy and I’ve done some amazing things in my previous 27 years on this earth. I hope to become a better man and keep doing amazing things. ‘Nuff Said.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Love Does: The Spoken-Word Poem

What does love do?

Does it, at the sight of her,
use the wings of a thousand butterflies
to tickle your heart and send it on a roller coaster ride
in, around, and through your chest?

No, that’s attraction.

Does love wait on her doorstep in a tuxedo,
roses in one hand, champagne in the other,
with an 80’s rock anthem blaring in the background?

No, that’s romance.

What love does is
pay for lunch when you’ve forgotten your wallet
love comes with you, cheers you along,
and celebrates with you when accomplish your dreams
Love drives 2 hours simply to sit with you in tearful silence at a funeral.

Love picks you up, dusts you off,
and reminds you that you are not the sum of your shortcomings and failures.

What love does, has done, and will continue to do is
take this heart of stone,
which has been marred by abuse
and calloused by neglect,
and turn it into a heart of flesh
that lives and beats,
hopes and believes.

Love begins with the heart but does not stop there,
it propels life out into the extremities
and changes the whole person.
It has transformed prostitutes into princesses,
murderers into missionaries,
and critics into collaborators
and it will transform the scared,
selfish little boy I believe myself to be
into a mighty man seeking after Gods own heart.

Love does not do all of this to gain for itself,
but rather love does to show us how amazing we truly are
and to teach us how to live as beloved.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Compliments and Free Couches: Learning the Art of Self-value

I work retail, so between helping customers and stocking shelves there is usually quite a bit of time to converse with my boss and coworkers. Lately, one of our favorite topics of discussion has been my endeavors into dating that, I have to admit, are pretty comical. While discussing my most recent “failure to launch” my boss quipped, “Maybe you’re like a couch that you don’t want anymore, if you put it on the curb with a sign that says “FREE” no one will touch it, but as soon as you say it costs $5, it will go”. It was funny and as I thought about it throughout the rest of my shift that day I began to realize how true it was: no one will recognize the value of what you are offering until you put value on it yourself.

That night, on my bike ride home, I received one of the most meaningful compliments I’ve been offered recently. A pedestrian shouted to me (twice), “You’re lights are excellent!” I replied with a quick “Thank you” and continued home because while my lights were excellent, my clothing choice was not and I was really cold. As I arrived home I began to ponder why I appreciated this stranger’s compliment so much. It was because I agreed with him. My lights are excellent: I’ve spent a decent amount of money on them and get pretty excited when talking about them. It was nice to have someone else acknowledge the value I put on them.

It made me realize that there are a lot of compliments that I am offered that I don’t receive, a lot of praise that I shrug off insisting that the person must be misinformed. I simply don’t agree with them about the value they see in me. I want to learn to see the value others see in me and stop deprecating the man that I am. I want to be able to receive any compliment offered to me with genuine thanks.

This concept transfers into my faith life because the biggest compliment that I constantly reject is that I’m beloved, so much so that Jesus was willing to die for me in order to have a relationship with me. Brennan Manning wrote, “Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games or pop psychology. IT IS AN ACT OF FAITH in the God of grace.” It is time for me to have a little faith, accept myself as I am, and learn to receive any and all compliments I am offered.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ending Well, Disappointed

“Goals shouldn't be easy and they shouldn't always be met, because then they're not really goals" --Tim Ek

The New Year is a time many of us use to “start over”, set goals for ourselves (or rather the selves we hope to become), and do our best to start on a path towards achieving them.

During the past week I’ve spent a little time looking back on my year gone by and I have to admit that I feel disappointed about some of the goals I set for myself in January 2014: my weight still hovers around 200 pounds, I’m still employed by the same company, and I’m still single. On top of these things remaining unchanged throughout 2014, there seems to be very little hope of them changing in 2015.

But, I’ve come to that conclusion only looking at 2 of 365 days.

In the other 363 I’ve done a lot of work that I don’t give myself credit for. I biked over 4,000 miles, finished races that I wouldn’t have imagined completing even a year ago, and logged race times I thought were reserved for guys who weigh 50 pounds less than me and have $10,000 carbon-fiber bicycles.  I started running, practicing yoga regularly, and enjoying vegetables. I started a leadership position at my church. I asked around 35 women out to coffee and even went on a quite a few dates. I faced a lot of heartache, confusion, and adversity including being stung on the lip by a wasp at the halfway point of one of my century rides. In my attempts to accomplish my goals I have learned a lot about my heart and myself.

My sense of accomplishment should come from those 363 days, not in the accomplishment of some lofty aspirations I had set for myself on an equally as frigid morning a year ago. At the same time, I would have never experienced those successes had I not set those goals that I didn’t achieve in the first place. As a man who’s perpetually questioning whether or not he is wasting his time, this is a very hard concept for me to wrap my head around.

I’m often tempted to treat these “in-the-process” successes like some sort of pitiful consolation prizes, decide that accomplishing my goals isn’t worth the time and effort, give up and quit. This will inevitably undo any progress I had made: my body will still want to consume the same amount of calories it took in while I was exercising daily, I wouldn’t have to leave my house, and I’d stop dreaming. The pounds would start stacking up, my muscles would atrophy, self-doubt and self-deprecation would return, and the thought of change would become simply overwhelming.

So, this year I’m still setting some pretty lofty goals for myself. While I hope to achieve them all, I’m going to be ok with some disappointment because I’m putting value on the effort I’ll put into achieving goals that will challenge me, instead of the single moment of having accomplished them.

Galatians 6:9
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”