“Put the work in now.”

“Put the work in now. You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.”

A quote by a friend about three weeks ago in a spin class I haven’t been able to shake. She meant it for biking. She meant it for sweating. She meant it for burning legs and lungs. But I can’t help thinking there was a bigger purpose to those words rattling inside my head these weeks.

Work is good. I love work. I really do. It’s a word that never really scared or felt painful to me. It’s a word that I appreciated. Like I could see the end result of my work before I ever started and that was my motivation to put time, energy, and effort into working toward that THING whatever it was.

Growing up, school was my greatest work and feat, but I always made it through those nine months of school and got to live the achievement with each new grade. Then college and grad school. Both rough, but so good for different reasons. Work in finding and starting some sort of career, still discovering what that means, but I love the journey more each year!

What I really want to talk about though is sports. I’ve always loved sports. My parents were big on getting my siblings and I plugged into sports teams growing up. Kids and adolescents have the potential to learn life changing lessons for the good because of sports. Character, stick-to-itiveness, losing, winning, boundaries (what are they, why are they there?), cheating, teamwork, sometimes being in the spotlight, and sometimes giving that spotlight to others, and lastly showing up to practice even when you don’t want to. When athletes reach a level of skill and honing in on their sports that they can be a leader in their community, or even reaching the highest levels of sports by going pro is a great aim for many kids that carry them through to adulthood. Sports are a powerful part of society and I know I’m a way stronger person because of sports.

I learned to push through physical and mental pain and stress, knowing that if I don’t, I’ll be left behind or won’t reach my goals. And this could be goals in anything! Goals pertaining to relationships, my career, finishing my first triathlon, and being able to run a certain distance, but being able to drop the time.

The key is: part of putting in the work is knowing your “why” as I hear so many coaches talk about. Why the days alone training? Why the early mornings and rigid schedules for your career or athletics? Is it for being the best, so recognition? Is it for more money, so maybe financial security? Is it for staying in good health, so as to live your best quality of life? (Your why should be something meaningful and fulfilling; recognition and fame can be flimsy “whys.” They can be easily taken away. Choose your why wisely.)

My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.

Once you know your why, then putting in the work to get there is the next step. My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t. In the moment, though I was on my bike with the music blaring and lights dimmed as most spin rooms are, my mind was on relationships. I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

Putting in the work doesn’t always look like getting sweaty and “swoll” in an obvious way on the outside. It might look like internal exhaustion and setbacks, but still trekking forward because your goals and dreams matter and you’re standing on your “WHY.” Your why puts those hard days in perspective.

Maybe your goal is to be the top sales person where you work or to earn the title of manager, what do you need to learn and do to get there? Maybe it means saying “no” to late night shows so that you can go to bed on time and wake up ready for a new work day refreshed. If you have actual #relationshipgoals as the trending hashtag circled around the world got posted, what work do you need to put into that relationship now, so that you reach the goal? In some cases the “work” might just simply be stating a prayer to the One Above to guide you in your marriage when things seem to be falling apart.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’m not suggesting that work is all that life is about. It’s not. Life is also about enjoying the good days before you and learning to love the people around you well; it’s about practicing the true art of self-care because you are worthy of love yourself.

However, what I do know is that work is good and when it comes to work, the goals and dreams we hold onto (athletic goals, career goals, travel goals, marriage goals, community goals…) won’t magically appear without effort. And as my friend said that day as I huffed and puffed my way through a 26-mile ride in the studio—if you don’t put in the work now, no matter what your goals are, you’re only cheating yourself.

Talking to a Boy Friend about Boyfriends

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It was late. I was tired. And after an hour-long phone conversation with a guy friend the other night I ended up crying myself to sleep. They were tears of frustration and tears of self-pity at my sad situation of singleness.

Until the next morning, when I got kind of pissed.

The guy I was talking to on the phone is a friend of about 10 years. We’ve had our ups and downs with friendship, but for the most part have remained close and current relationships have always been a main topic of conversation for the two of us.

This boy friend is happily dating right now… so when he asked me about my status of dating or not I laughed saying, “Haha, you know me, my life has been pretty dry in that area for a while… of course I’m always talking to someone, but it never lasts.”

He responded by asking, “Why is that? Is it because you have things you need to work through with dating? Or is it because you’re talking to the wrong guys?”

I didn’t realize why in the moment, but I was a little hurt by the question. At that point we had been talking for a good 30 minutes about him. I asked him all about his work, family, selling his car, buying a house, his girlfriend… and when it came to me, the first thing he asked was about my dating life. And when I responded, “I don’t really have one right now” he wanted to get to the root of the problem as to why not.

This got me feeling sorry for myself. It made me think of my “lack” that I’m missing something. That I am messing up with boys and friends. That I can’t get a boyfriend. So we talked.

Eventually, we hung up joking in a fight over whether or not I was drunk over one glass of wine. (I hadn’t eaten dinner, and had a glass of wine. He said I’m a lightweight and that I sounded drunk on the phone, even though I hadn’t even finished drinking the glass. No way was I drunk! Haha.)

Soon after I hung up, the laughter stopped as I replayed his question over in my head and literally cried myself to sleep about my singleness. Like a relationship is the most important thing for a Christian girl, and I must be missing something, and it’s my fault for not having one.

Then. The next morning. I realized something.

WHO CARES!?

Not ONCE in our phone convo did he ask me about anything except for my relationship status. He didn’t ask about work, my career, if I should job search other places, should I go to grad school, where I want to move next, the fact that I’m raising money for human trafficking victims through a triathlon this summer…

When it came to my life it was all about the lack of male companionship.

I think I’m doing some pretty cool $hit without a guy thank you very much. And there are SO many more important conversations to be had other than, “so why are you single again?”

And in a state of self-pity, I went with the conversation. I didn’t think to bring up all the cool things I have done/ am doing/ mulling over/ considering next with my life.

Boys, friends, and boyfriends. Of course that’s an interesting conversation with anyone. Who are you dating? What happened to that one guy? Etc. But it seems like that’s the main topic of conversation people care about, especially for Christian women. People in the church seem to get so excited about a woman’s new potential mate, but when it comes to her job search, promotion, or latest mission trip… those conversations don’t go very far.

Listen. There is nothing wrong with boyfriends and husbands. We do need male companionship, male energy, and male leadership in our lives. Those relationships ARE important. But that’s not why we exist as women. And after crying myself to sleep, it wasn’t till the next morning that I FINALLY came to realize: there is no lack. I’m not lacking anything at this point in my life.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”

Right now, I need to remain faithful to the role God has called me to as I start my career off. Right now in life, I’m not in a place for a deep and intimate relationship with a boyfriend. I’m not the kind of girl to go chase a guy down, and even if I had a boyfriend, it would turn into a disaster! I would end up neglecting the guy because of my passion for work and raising awareness for human trafficking victims. Not to mention blog/ writing ideas and the potential for grad school!

This life that God has given me, my conversations, and my pursuits can be deep, full, and interesting. And my life doesn’t need to revolve around boyfriends.

Single ladies out there. Remain faithful to your calling. And at God’s direction the right guy will come. You are not lacking anything. Please don’t let people “fix” your singleness like it’s a problem because it’s not. And don’t chase guys down for the sake of other people or status. Instead, be brave and share the beauty of the cool things that are going on in your life- know that you are so much more than a relationship status!