One of my favorite childhood memories was watching my father compete in the Heart of America Marathon, described as one of the oldest and toughest marathon courses in the U.S. and held every year in my small hometown of Columbia, Missouri, on Labor Day since 1960. My dad had trained and was well prepared for the 26.2 mile race. But mile 13 was tough. It’s at this point, half-way through the race, that runners come up against Easley Hill, a half mile vertical ascent. I remember seeing my dad before the hill and after the hill. He was highly spirited before the hill just like he had been at the beginning of the race. But as he drew closer to the summit, I saw that his expression had changed. He looked unfocused, tired, and pained. I searched his face for some sort of reassurance that he was okay. I didn’t get it, and I remember feeling worried. Was he going to quit, I remember wondering? Or would he make it through?
I have never run a marathon but I sure have run into my own “mile 13” in life. Actually, two or three of them. Times when the future looked rough and things were tough and it looked like I should just quit. Looking back, it was at these moments that I had to make critical decisions that would impact my life and the lives of those around me. I found that exercising perseverance during these times afforded me the opportunity to gain clarity and insight into the challenges and exercise sound judgment in decision making. Here are some tips on how to persevere and not quit during tough times.
- Before you take on a difficult task, take the time out to pray for help and wisdom. Find the time and a place to separate yourself from the situation. Pray. Listen. Think it through. Anticipate possible challenges and ways to overcome these challenges.
- Focus on what you are trying to achieve and remind yourself of the importance of accomplishing it. Always attach a ‘why’ to your goal. You may be closer to achieving your goals than you think, so don’t quit.
- Envision what success would look and feel like when enduring the challenges.
- Reward yourself for each success.
My dad did finish his marathon. He even had a stronger kick at the end than he did at the beginning. And if we persevere, each of us can finish our life’s race strong too.
“…This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.” 2 Tim 4:6–8 (MSG)