Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Life Didn't Turn Out the Way I Thought It Would, But Then Again, I'm Not Finished

I'm almost 40. I'm almost 40 pounds overweight. I want a successful career, but I don't work at getting better as much as it will take to succeed. I'm still flaky and disorganized. My marriage and motherhood require actual intentional daily work to choose to love my husband and kids well. It is a tiresome battle to see all of the amazing things they do instead of focusing on the things they don't do or mess up. It takes exhaustive efforts not to compare the way my life has turned out with the way I think others' lives have turned out. And most of the time, I fail at not comparing. Much of the time, I see the worst. I feel stuck. And I see only the ways I have failed to live up to what I expected for my life.

To say it mildly, my life isn't what I thought it would be. 

I thought it would be easier to be a mom, a wife, a Christian, a writer... I thought it would be easier to be healthy. But it's not. It's really hard.  Like giving up pizza for life kind of hard.  Because the truth is being THAT version of myself takes a whole lot of growing, and like Ben Foote taught at Flatirons Church a few weeks ago, growth takes time. 

The night before Ben Foote's talk, my husband and I celebrated with our friends. We popped champagne, gave toasts, cried and gushed over the accomplishments of two of our dear friends. We feasted, laughed and carried on celebrating their persistence. We rejoiced at all of the amazing things that have finally come to fruition after we watched them work so hard and fall short on for so many years.

One of the things we celebrated that night, was our dear friend, John Paul Robb's dream coming true.

JP grew up in Boston. He watched the city's iconic marathon take place growing up, and in 2010, he ran his first attempt to qualify for it. He was convinced he’d qualify with no problem. He was wrong. He didn’t qualify. He tried again. No dice. Again. And again and again. Each time believing THIS time was the one. He tried to qualify in race after race for six years. Six years of running and training, tracking his times, tapering, tweaking his regimen. Six years of eating kale and beets. Six years of modifying everything in order to qualify. Six years of sweat and waking up early. Six years of not good enough to qualify. Six years of almost, but not quite. His fans and supporters watching him finish eight marathons with a face that said, "Yep, I just ran 26.2 miles, but it's not quite good enough again." And finally, after logging 14,000 miles, which, by the way, is like running from LA to New York five times. It's like 1/15th of the way to the moon. It's like traveling the Oregon Trail six and a half times without ever dying of dysentery...  After all that, one sweet day, on his ninth marathon, he did it. He qualified for the Boston Marathon. And on April 17th, 2017, he ran that race, his dreams coming true beside his family and friends in his beloved hometown.

(JP is on the left with the blue socks)

These are the stories God writes. These are the stories that we love. The ones God uses to show us how to grow and persist in the face of life, setbacks, struggles, grief... because as Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

Celebrating that night was inspiring. It was full of life and joy and honor in our friendship, but more than that, it was celebrating sanctification, as the Bible calls it... Because what made that night of celebrating wasn't the champagne. It wasn't the food. It was the eight failures and the eight times he tried again, through injury and kids and weather and fighting and believing he would never make it, but trying again anyway... And finally succeeding.

So, if sanctification is a holy process...

If growing, changing, becoming a better person is holy, then maybe my failures are holy too.  

Maybe, even if my life is not anywhere near the way I thought it would be, it could still be holy. Maybe it is holy to try again and again to get healthy. Maybe it is holy to realize how I have failed my children, apologize, and try again. Maybe it is holy to put my writing out there and get rejected. Maybe this life I'm living that is riddled with failure and messing up is, in fact, holy, so long as I'm chasing after God and His will for me. Because I'm growing. I am trying again. I am moving at a pace that is slower than molasses in January strapped to the back of giant tortoise in a headwind, but I am moving forward. I am positive it still won't turn out the way I thought it would, but from what I know to be true of God, it will be much, much better.

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here


  1. I'm with you in every way. I totally have been feeling God through Flatiron say you can do this, start where you are and with taking steps toward your goal, in time you will make it. I have all the same exact things going on, weight, wanting to write, trying to be wife and mom

  2. Thank you for that. This is exactly how I've been feeling for the past 9-12 months....blessed to stay home with a 3 and 5 year old....but sometimes questioning that this is how things have turned out. I will take my challenges as being sanctified.

  3. We can do these hard things, friend! We are more than conquerors, through Christ who loves us!