2011 was a surprising year for myself. I did 2 things I thought I would never do. I ate like a vegetarian for a month and a participated and completed two 1/2 marathons. I say participated and completed the marathons because I don’t know if what I was doing when I crossed the finish line could be considered running. Hobbling might be the better description. I say these are two things I thought I would never do, because in all honest I had the mindset that led me to believe these tasks were impossible for someone like me. I love meat and I was way out of shape. But then I was asked a question, I had been asked 100 times before.
As the husband of a Soldier, life isn’t always the best. My wife works long hours, is constantly contacted for random military matters and has insane situations she has to work through. When you are married to a military member you have to remember that a sacrifice to our great country is one that is put on every member of the family. Since I served as well, I know this and I don’t mind the sacrifice. The biggest one we make, of course, is being apart during deployments, when Heather is in harm’s way and there is nothing I can do to make sure she is safe. She is gone for a year, and I have to stay home, try not to worry and pray she returns to me.
Which leads me to the question. One day a person unfamiliar with the military life asked me, “How can you spend a year without your spouse? I could never do that.” The question is fair enough. After all, when you marry someone you are supposed to be together right? Sure, the question was fine, but his statement afterward sounded like a judgement against our marriage as if we are somehow less of a couple because we willingly spend time apart in order that Heather can serve. His attitude seemed less than gracious at what Heather was doing and more indicative of someone that had always put himself and his needs first.
Sorry, if I am getting on a soap box here, but the question I have is this. What do you mean you could NEVER do that? How do you know? Have you ever tried? It really irks me that I have to quote my mother here, and that something she said to me when I was a child is actually correct, but it is. How do you know whether or not you can do something until you actually try it. YOU DON’T, and saying you could never do something has a very negative connotation.
Which brings me back to my 2011. In January, I decided to do somethings I had always said I could NEVER do, but had never tried. I didn’t want to be that guy. That first month, I became a vegetarian. Look, I am still alive. Yes, I eat meat again, and no I didn’t really understand what people say about health benefits, but I can now at least say, “tried it, didn’t care for it, probably won’t do it again.” I will have to say though that reading Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook is one thing I liked and I still make dishes from it from time to time.
The marathons were another challenge altogether, but once again I didn’t want to be the guy who said I could never do it. In fact, I found that as I ran farther and farther during each training run and as the marathon got closer and closer, I was getting excited. My first half was at Disney. Talk about atmosphere. 12000 people running through 3 theme parks with characters and bands and paid Disney staffers cheering you on. Every mile felt as if I was accomplishing something new. As I stumbled across the finish line with quads and calves burning, I teared up a little. The medal they put around my neck was amazing (although after 13 miles, it is a little heavy). I had done it.
It was after this marathon and the Space Coast half that I realized something. I can TRY anything. And if I work hard and fight, then I can DO a whole more than I thought possible. It was then that I came to hate the word NEVER even more. It is so negative. All the word never does…is put limits on what could be a limitless life. Here are three ways “never” limits lives.
1. The word NEVER puts limits on ourselves. Let’s face it, when we believe that we can’t do something, then we can’t do it. It doesn’t matter what it is or how easy or difficult the task, when we automatically believe that we are not able to do something, it becomes Mt. Everest in our lives. I have heard people who are amazing individuals knock themselves down and say things like I could never walk more than a couple miles at a time, or I could never cook, or I could never get a job like that. Why not? What is holding you back? When you add the word NEVER to your vocabulary, the only person holding you back, is yourself.
2. The word NEVER puts limits on our family and friends. I am very blessed to have the most supportive family and friends in the world, and that is good since I am way too crazy for most of them to understand the different directions I take from time to time. I have the type of friends and family that are encouraging and will even try and help me follow different ideas and paths. In these cases, the word NEVER just turns off that encouragement. It can make your family and friends feel as if they are wasting their time trying to help. How would you feel if a friend asked your opinion and then totally shot your ideas down because they didn’t believe in themselves? I think it would make you far less likely to give your opinion next time. Don’t shut out your family and friends because you like to use the word NEVER.
3. The word NEVER puts limits on God. Now don’t twist the words, I don’t believe God can be limited. If He wants something to happen, it is going to happen, but He generally doesn’t work that way. He wants us to work hard, and accomplish things for His glory. Reminding ourselves that He gave us the ability to accomplish our goals and dream bigger than we thought possible certainly allows God to work in our lives much more than we ever know. It was Jesus in Matthew 19:26 who says, “With God ALL things are possible.” The word NEVER in our lives certainly tries to negate that saying now doesn’t it.
In most of my days, I refuse to use the word NEVER. I am not putting limits on what God can do with me or through me on this journey. I can and will run another 1/2 marathon and who knows what else I once thought impossible will be accomplished. Join me! Think of something you don’t think you can do and then DO IT. I will be cheering for you.