middot enthusiasm besorah enthusiasm and endurance

enthusiasm and endurance

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-runnersI love to run. Three years of cross country in high school planted that love firmly in my bones. For any sport, enthusiasm plays a big role.

That said, any kind of stamina dependent sport has a unique relationship with enthusiasm. On the one hand, one must really use enthusiasm to push the body to keep going. On the other hand, if one takes off like a shot in the beginning without pacing it is easy to peter out.

Life is an endurance sport! It is so easy to get excited about something and then find it difficult to keep going. Entertainment and technology markets do their fare share to make enthusiasm transient in American culture. Unfortunately, this also seeps into more crucial areas of life. The problem is we have learned to have the enthusiasm of sprinters when we need the enthusiasm of marathon runners. A marathon runner is enthusiastic because of the goal at hand, and less because of the initial rush of excited adrenaline. The marathon runner knows the race is long and that there will be pain, times to slow down, times to speed up, and potential danger if these factors aren’t accounted for. The problem is when new Yeshua believers, baalei teshuva, young couples, etc. start the marathon like their running one hundred meters. When they find they have to keep going, it gets tough.

In life, a properly balanced enthusiasm is less rooted in the initial rush of excitement and more in the desire and joy to “run the race,” as Shaul put it (1 Corinthians 9:24–27). Life takes effort to enjoy it properly, and to reach the goal. May we all find ourselves enthusiastically running the race together with endurance.

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