Learning to Let Go

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking that I’m in control. I research and plan until my brain is tired. Once I have every eventuality figured out, then my anxious mind can relax. However, sometimes I come face to face with the reality that I am not really in control, like at a race recently.

It was my first ever solo 5k and I was nervous. Every other race that I’d participated in, I had run with a friend or had family present to support me. This time was different; I was on my own. Given my history, this was a big step.

Leading up to the race, I devised a plan to reduce my anxiety and help me focus. I had it all figured out. I knew how fast I wanted to run and created a playlist to assist me. A great deal of time was spent choosing songs of certain lengths and then arranging them in a specific order. If a certain song played around the half-way mark, I would know that I was running at the pace I had planned. If another song played near the final stretch, then I would know that I was close to a personal best. I didn’t want to rely on my watch. Music was going to be my pacesetter and motivation for this race. I had it all worked out.

On race day, I was feeling a little anxious about being alone but I knew I would feel better once I started running. When it was time to begin, I was ready. My headphones were in and my playlist was cued up. Then, we were off. The excitement of the start and the congestion of runners around me caused a slight misfire in my memory. I totally forgot about my playlist!

Several minutes into the race, I remembered my music. I pressed the button on my headphones and, to my surprise, nothing happened. So, I tried again. Nothing. Thinking that they must have powered themselves off somehow, I pressed the power button. No, they were already on. It must be my phone.

Unfortunately, my phone was packed away in my Flipbelt. Fiddling with my headphones during a race while surrounded by runners was bad enough, but now my only option to get my music to work was to take out my phone. Should I dare to do that? But I needed my music. I had a plan. I had to follow my plan. I had it all figured out.

Convinced that my playlist was necessary, I reached for my phone while being careful not to elbow any nearby runners. Even though I was already off to the side so runners could pass me, taking out my phone was a little tricky since the course was tight. One of the other runners made a snarky comment about my phone as he ran past me. Maybe pulling out my phone during the race was a runner faux pas, but I had no choice. I needed that playlist!

Trying to ignore the runner’s comment, I pressed the power button on my phone to wake it up. Nothing. I tried to restart my phone. Nothing. What was going on? I had charged my phone earlier and even sent a few text messages just before the race. It had plenty of battery life and was working fine. Now, it was completely dead.

After several attempts to restart my phone while running along the uneven terrain, I reluctantly admitted defeat. I would not have my music for the race. My plan was foiled and I felt a bit defeated. Tucking my headphones into my pocket, I took a deep breath and put my focus back on the run. What else could I do?

Several minutes later, I almost started laughing. How silly was I? I had thought that I had it all figured out. I had thought that I needed my music. I didn’t need that playlist. All I needed to do was run. If I ran a personal best, then that’s great. If I didn’t, so what? That’s not why I was there. I was there to enjoy myself and celebrate running.

During the rest of the race, I did just that. I focused on my surroundings and my body. I noticed the refreshing smell of the woods and the beauty of a cranberry bog. I listened to my breathing and my footsteps on the ground. I ignored my watch and ran completely by feel. As I ran through the finish, I was amazed. I had beat my personal best by several minutes. I had not needed my playlist or my perfect plan. All I had needed to do was run.

Not long after the race, I attempted to use my phone. It worked fine! It powered on like it usually does. At once, I felt like I had just experienced a God moment. He had a lesson for me that day and it was a lesson about anxiety. It was a reminder that He is in control, not me. I don’t need to worry and plan and scheme. Trying to control everything is futile. All I need to do is trust that He has a plan for my life. I can cast my cares, and my perfect playlists, away because I’m in good hands and I am thankful for that.