Finishing a Marathon in More Ways than One

My “a” key is sticky as I type this, so it could get interesting. It’s been one week. One week since I crossed the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon. One week of achieving two goals I had set post-partum. One week of unwinding from a season of chaos, and more ugly-named a season of selfishness.

In August I was unwinding from a season of LOVE ATLANTA, some special events I was working, my brother’s wedding, and gearing up to start this marathon training cycle. I had already turned down one contracting opportunity that gave me little lead time after a busy season, when I was approached about another 12-week opportunity, side hustle if you will. It was something I had always been curious in, and had previously said I wouldn’t give up if I was approached with the opportunity. Whenever I try to describe my personality and the way I work, I sing Shakira the gazelle’s song “Try Everything” from Zootopia. I am far more scared to not have found something that I love, then to fail in the attempt. I have failed A LOT, but I would take it every day over not having gone for it. So I said yes.

I already had several things slated for this past season and a few personal challenges long the way – finishing our home study for foster/adoption, my grandmother being in the hospital long term from COVID – but I didn’t let that stop me. So I dove in: training for my marathon, studying for my PMP exam, taking on my regular job + contract work, taking care of the house + Elijah, supporting Jon in his world. It was too much and everyone around me suffered.

I thought I was doing alright, I was trying to be flexible and present, but even when those two things variables aligned my mind was usually elsewhere. My engagement with Elijah tanked, I was forgetting or having to cancel things with friends, eventually we all got sick, and Jon could be telling me a 50 minute story and 2 minutes in I was trying to solve some puzzle in one of my realms and missed the whole thing. Talk about frustrating.

God in His kindness allowed me to carry it all for good and bad. I helped launch a few successful projects with work, I got to be a part of a few interesting and fun projects in the contract world, I passed my PMP exam and officially got certified, and reached two of my three goals for my marathon (sub 3:30 and finish without walking – by stretch goal was sub 3:15 if you were interested), but as I crossed the finish line something felt different than it ever had: gratitude + contentment, a sign it was time for something else.

I reflected on it a good bit this past week, my word for the year is simplify, and through the muck of this last year – even in the good – I let myself and feelings take the drivers seat A LOT. And so I feel convicted and challenged. How do I balance showing up for my community without sacrificing my presence with the people I love? How do I actively create the boldness in the uncomfortable places (it’s plenty there in the comfortable ones)? How do I not try to “share” the spotlight with my Creator/Savior by continuing to achieve and goal-set? How do I cultivate a love of adventure and exploration alongside extreme generosity?

That’s why I want to chew on the first few months of this year. I crossed the finish line of this marathon and as the final moment of this past season – and now it’s time for something new. Lord how can I do your will with what you’ve given me?

Amen.

2022

Hello old friend.

It’s been awhile. I had no intentions on sitting down to type this, but the year was too full and God so faithful for me to miss out on a moment to remember. I could sit here generalizing the beauty of the mountaintop and the valleys, each in their time, but I find it not as helpful as the specific moments that meet people right where they are. My writing might be a little rusty, but it’s not for lack of passion, and I hope some of that rust will shake off in 2023.

We began the year with anxiety – we love and are for Passion Conference – but the rise in virus cases and the vulnerabilities in my family make it a little more consequential than for others. In faith we served, and regardless of our desires we landed sick, cancelling a trip I was excited for, and the worst part was having a sick little 1 year old with a very high fever which felt like forever to shake. It also sent my body on a tailspin that has taken most of this year to reckon with.

While my case was mild, my breathing never seemed to return to normal post COVID. I ended up having to axe some of my race season and pacing duties because while I could run, it was very up, down and inconsistent. At the end of January, I unexpectedly ended up getting pregnant. We took on a beach trip in February with some close friends of ours, it was beautiful and fun! We had never done a trip like that with friends before. We got back and a week later I knew something wasn’t right. Having already planned to head to Florida and just playing things by ear – after a horrible night/morning of loss – I escaped to Florida to recover outside the eyes and demands of a not yet 2 year old.

While the trip was good and helpful the first two months of the year had knocked me down. I buried myself in work and LOVE ATLANTA rhythms, trying to refill the capacity I didn’t feel worthy any longer to ask for. My eating disorder tried to rear its head in different ways while I was juggling so many different responsibilities and opportunities. In July, the day after my now sister in law’s bridal shower, I ended up with our second bought of COVID. Thankfully for me, it was as mild as the first, and Elijah’s case was much better this time around.

In August, we celebrated my little brother’s wedding, only then for my family to get wreaked by their first every case of COVID. What they say held true, everyone was fatigued and lousy but fine, except, for my grandmother. A week after she was diagnosed she ended up in the ICU fighting for her life. Jon and I still, gratefully, took our trip to the Pacific Northwest visiting Olympic National Park, Vancouver, Seattle, and Mt Rainier National Park – it was beautiful and being in nature and God’s creation is one of the cores of how I move through life in awe of my Creator.

When we got back it was a quick turnaround before Jon was on an airplane to Phoenix and Elijah and I were on our way to Disney for one last trip of 2022. We made some great memories, admittedly more for me than him, but he had an incredible time and made for a great travel companion at this age. Age 1 was brutal, age 2 seemed to be a fun spot; I could still keep him contained, but he was able to communicate and relax most of the time. The week after that I leapt into another project. However, my lack of planning hadn’t quite pulled the fact that by December I would have my PMP certification exam, the Christmas season, the hardest part of my training cycle, and all the business of work projects about to switch over years.

In November, my grandmother came home from 3 months in care facilities, we still had to celebrate Thanksgiving without her, but the fact she was comfortably and independently at home brought so much ease.

In December, the Lord in all his goodness, allowed me to pass my PMP certification exam, finish out the hardest part of my training cycle, carry work and projects, and celebrate the season + finish out reading the Bible in a Year (I did a reading plan on YouVersion). Jon always said capacity is a muscle that needs to be stretched, and 5 years I would not have been able to carry all the Lord has entrusted me with. Now, it’s not to say that every yes was the best choice, but I am still standing proclaiming His goodness and faithfulness through all the curveballs this year has thrown.

As we hit 2023 tomorrow, my body is starting to feel closer and closer to “normal”, I am excited to hit another marathon in a week, and then just be with my family in Florida. I am excited for some time in between projects to give more of myself to those around me, and I am excited that we are home study approved and our home is open to take in foster kiddos and/or adopt privately . It will be SO hard and the peace is SO prevalent.

See you next year friends,

Jordan Woodson