Do Over 8


I remember playing more than a fair amount of front yard games growing up. We liked kickball and lazy man’s softball, dodgeball or fox and the [something something I can’t remember now]? We took our games seriously, and we played for keeps. Most of our games had a sort of Lord of the Flies, winner is king (or queen) kind of feel. Kids are superior arbiters of fairness and winning, usually graceless winning, but whatever. But we had our generous moments, too.

After a particularly horrid kickball kick, we might grant the kicker a do over. We might allow another chance at bat, or another turn at QB, or the chance to be fox again if it might mean we could play longer, and better. We wanted to win, and sometimes that meant giving someone else a do over.

I awoke on the day of my last (not final) marathon ready. Food packed, clothing laid out, shoes ready, breakfast digesting. I was ready at the start line though I could not find any of the buddies I had planned to start with. I had my tunes and my super cool socks and my jacket and my plan. I was doing fine until about somewhere between miles 6 and 8. If you’re doing the math, that’s kind of early in a long run to get in trouble. My knee turned to painful jello. And that sucker hurt for the rest of the race. I was slower than day old dirt. Alone. And mad.

I fumed up and over hills. I mumbled through water stops. I cursed at every time clock. And I decided that even if my knee spontaneously combusted and I would never be able to run again, I would not quit. And I didn’t. I finished, mad. Tired. And a 2 time marathoner.

While that cognitively is awesome, and I am cognitively a proud little runner girl, I still want a do over. I want answers. I want to know why that day, of all days, my knee decided to wack out. I want to hit ONE of the goals I had set.


On the circular needle, I cast on 68 stitches. I diligently knitted the inch of stupid ribbing. I decide I didn’t like the gauge (or tension) and decide to rip it apart and start again. Another inch of ribbing. Too small. I started this project no fewer than six times until I decided to just keep going. After all, the project is just a test run for me, and I don’t care. Except I do care.

So much so that nearly two thirds through, I ripped out half of it and tried to fix a janky spot. This did not go well. It’s nearly finished. It is far from it. I get a do over on this; it’s a two piece project.

I have found the double edged blade of grace. While do overs are a mighty grace, a chance to erase our mistakes, they cost. I can still taste my failure or mistakes like a bitterness on the back of the tongue. I’m still dissatisfied; I’m aware, painfully, of my imperfection. I carry with me the knowledge that things did not go as planned, that I did not perform as I expected.

I’m trying. I’m trying to find that place where cognitive dissonance gives way to thankfulness. I’m learning, again, to grant myself the same gracious do over that I would grant others.

Do overs. What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Do Over

  • Sara B

    It sucks being a perfectionist. These people who look at us & think we have it easy because we always do everything “perfect”, they don’t know the horrid amounts of do overs we’ve pushed on ourselves, the angst we feel of leaving something as “good enough”. It is never good enough. This is the cross we bear. And how are we to recognize that it is not the cross the God intended us to bear? Through grace & support. Yes, we all have those days & moments. But that’s what makes us human. And you are Perfect, just the way you are. God said so.

    • Jennifer Luitwieler

      It’s funny, Sara. I’m not really a perfectionist. But I do have certain high standards. And they usually only apply to myself. I’m always willing to let others have tons of wiggle room. But for me? No. So a bad run equals failure, and it’s something I need to adjust. Working on it. God said I was good. And perfect. Thanks. You, too.

  • uzchishti

    I agree with previous comments that being a perfectionist is difficult for that particular person but I really appreciate people who feel they can improve themselves at any given point about whatever they feel they can improve on. Your post is really thought provoking and all I want to say is that its okay to feel that we can better ourselves, our endeavors, our life etc etc. It is these people like yourself who I believe are setting high goals for themselves and in the long run are making for a better world. I would take a perfectionist over a judgmental, smug person any day. Introspection is a sign of someone who wants to grow and I believe that we can all learn from any experience/project. The music lover that I am- Michael Jackson’s man in the mirror comes to mind. Thank you for your lovely blog and on a personal note- anyone who can knit and do it over is a hero to me……..

  • Kelli Hughes

    Yep, I get it. From one two marathoner to another, that sucks. First, I’m SO sorry you didn’t have the race you hoped. Yes, a do over is due! LOL! I am also a perfectionist in some areas, so I can totally relate to training for a race and then not running the race as I’d hoped. I can also relate to not getting the knitting just right. I hate pulling it out, but that one spot will bug me (even if no one else will notice it)! I’ve never done a project 6 times, though! Wow. Giving ourselves grace and do overs is REALLY hard. The thing you have to remember, especially with races, is we usually have no control over what happens. You did the training, but your knee just didn’t cooperate (curse you, knee!!!). I’m impressed you finished when you felt it around mile 6. Wow. Lots of things can happen. I always obsess about the weather right before a race as if I can control it! You have to remember that you have control over your training (which you still did and did well and still benefitted from), but you do not have control over what will happen on race day. After racing many races in the blazing heat, I have come to accept that, but it has taken a LONG time. I know I’m not going to PR every race. The training is so much more of it than the race itself. It is hard to remember that because we want that number (our time) to indicate and “prove” we did the training. You know you did it, and that’s all that matters. You benefitted the same whether you actually ran the race or not. You still ran 26.2 miles….again. As I tell runners who haven’t run many races (and every race seems to count): There is always another race. 🙂 Next time……at the do over, you’ll rock it.

  • kt_writes

    Even if you didn’t get your marathon or your knitting exactly right, you nailed this: “I have found the double edged blade of grace. While do overs are a mighty grace, a chance to erase our mistakes, they cost.”

    But that lingering awareness of what we have a chance to leave behind can also keep giving to us, in the form of powerful lessons and gratitude—a clear way to measure the distance from where we were to where we now are. In many ways, much of my life feels like one big do-over, and it’s being able to mark the distance from there to here that I value most.