Last night, The Narrator was watching a video interview that Forbes did with Warren Buffet and Jay-Z. Odd combo, right? I caught bits and pieces of it while I was working in the kitchen, and their stories were fascinating. Did you know that Warren Buffet was denied entrance to Harvard? And did you know that Jay-Z was turned down by every record company he visited in the beginning? When asked what the key to their success was, they both answered the key was not giving up. Now years later, they are undoubtedly at the top of their respective fields. And when people don’t “get” their ideas, they plow ahead anyway, undeterred by rejection or fear of failure. They stick with what they know they are supposed to be doing. They finish.
It’s much easier to start things than it is to finish them. Hence the stacks of unfinished sewing and knitting projects I and most other crafters have in our basements. It’s seen in piles of unfinished manuscripts and screenplays. It’s seen in thousands of unfinished household projects. Unfinished is everywhere. It’s why this time of year thousands of people join a gym and by April are paying dues for something they don’t use. It’s why people will pay the registration fee for a race and never run it.
When I hit mile 22 of my first marathon last October it took every ounce of strength, determination and will power I had to put one foot in front of the other for the next 4.2 miles. Every step hurt. I felt every muscle in my body. My brain kept screaming that it would be so much easier to just stop. Just. Stop. Running. 22 miles is good. But it never would have been good enough. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a wave of emotion that I had never experienced before. I fell to my knees and choked back sobs. I had just accomplished one of the greatest things in my life. I finished against all odds. I finished something major. Something I never imagined I could do. Something I would forever be proud of. Something that pushed me to new levels of determination. Something that showed me I can finish, even when it’s painful and seemingly impossible. I never knew I had it in me. Until I finished.
Sometimes not finishing is the right thing to do. It goes back to my last post about learning to listen – to your body, to others, to the promptings God provides and not misreading things to make ourselves believe whatever we want to believe. My running partner (thankfully after our marathon and not before) ended up with a stress fracture in her foot. Had she ignored the pain and kept running she could have ended up with a much more serious issue. Sometimes you have to know when to stop. But many times, you just have to stick through the ugly and keep going. Projects and events are fun and exciting in the beginning, but then you get to mile 22 and it’s far from easy and fun. It’s painful and takes every ounce of determination you have to keep going and put one foot in front of the other. Those who do keep plodding along see what many people don’t – the finish line. They feel the thrill of accomplishment. The satisfaction of success.
I’ve commenced on a year of finishing. When I started looking for unfinished things around my house, I could not believe how many I found, and often how very close they were to being finished. I found a stack of knitted washcloths that only needed the ends tied in. I found a knitted dishtowel that only needed 4 more inches. I found a hat that only needed two leaves sewn on. I found a basket of mending by my sewing machine that one hour of work would resolve. I went hunting for the other halves to two mitten sets and after just a little searching found them. The more I dig through things, the more I realize I have way more loose ends than I ever realized. I’m still scouring for more, but with each project that I finish, I feel so good. And my family is appreciative. (Some of the items needing mended had been outgrown. Oops!)
After my marathon finish line experience I kept thinking of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
I’ve started my finishing journey with projects that can easily be finished with a needle and thread. But there are much bigger, weightier things to be done this year. Things that require me to put myself out there in new, unfamiliar territory, with risk of rejection. Things that left undone have consequences worse than an unusable, outgrown outfit. Things that if finished have a greater effect than just the feeling of great satisfaction. I want to be able to say as Paul did, in all areas of my life, “I finished the race. I kept the faith.” One foot in front of the other.
What about you? What things do you need to finish this year?