I was on relay teams in high school track and while I had plenty of poor starts and bad hand-offs, there is one thing I never did in response–go back. Imagine the reaction if I had jogged back mid-race to the starting blocks to try it again. What if I just ran off the track in defeat? Or picture me insisting that my teammate hand-off to me again. Crazy, right?
Yet that is what you and I often do when we feel like we've gotten off to a bad start or have made a poor transition. We oversleep, don't have time to work out or make a healthy breakfast, and we figure the day is lost. We stop running and fret about our imperfect start. We might even do this in marriage or career settings. We might wonder if we really knew what we were doing when we said, "I do" or took the job. Instead of finishing the race we're in, we long to return to the start.
I didn't realize what havoc my habit of returning to start was wreaking in my life. If I didn't get up on time or get every part of my routine done, I was either getting quite cranky about it or I would foolishly try to get my morning routine done when it was too late. Believe me, if I miss my devotional time before the kids are up, it's an exercise in frustration trying to have it with them around. The more I tried to catch up, the behinder I got! I found myself running the wrong way on the track, getting tripped up, and wondering what was wrong.
In a race, I worried about getting out of the blocks poorly or fumbling the baton after the race was over. Until the next practice, I just ran for all I was worth, not worrying about what didn't go well before. That's what I'm practicing now. If my day is interrupted, I start where I'm at. If I have extra time to go back and do the things I missed (fat chance), I can. If not, at least the latter part of my day will go smoothly. At day's end, I can evaluate what went wrong in the morning and take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Maybe you're struggling with something more serious than an upset day; perhaps it seems that you've gotten a bad start in life and you'd like a do-over. What if you started where you are? Made the most of the marriage and career you have? I'm not suggesting that this is good advice for every situation, but it's an option to consider.
If today's gotten off to a bad start, either pick up your routine from here on out, or make a new, short list of what you'd like to accomplish with what's left of the day. Remember, plenty of relay teams have gotten off to a bad start or bungled the hand-off and went on to win the race.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1)