Running can be difficult. From what I’ve learned, most people loath it. Some days I really don’t know why I enjoy it so much. While some days I can’t imagine a day without a good four miles beneath my feet. I have always always wanted to be a person that got up every morning and worked out. Kind of the second best start to each of my days [second best to quiet time with God of course]. This morning, I got to be that woman. I got a decently adequate amount of sleep for once. I set my alarm for 10:30 because sometimes you have to let yourself relax. I got up at 8:30 because I’d like to think I’m an overachiever. And I ran.
I really wonder what it is that gets me about my runs. What is in it for me with every step I push forward? What is it that makes me stop at certain points, thinking I can’t push forward any more?
What I’ve come to realize over my years and years of on and off running, is that it’s a lot like life. At first, I don’t usually really want to run-unless it’s been a long time since my last. Like normal, I’m tired. I’m tired, so why in the world would I put myself through a strenuous exercise, knowing full well I’ll just be more tired after? Well, because it’s good for me and it makes me feel beautiful and on top of the world. Sometimes, even on top of the galaxy. So I put on my shoes, cutoff, and shorts, place my headphones in, and turn my music up. In life, this is me basically every morning. I’ll admit [begrudgingly] that I wake up most mornings not wanting to get out of my bed. I LOVE the light hue in my room that the sun shines through my purple curtains. I love lying under my feather blanket, still sunken into my pillows. I love talking to God, thanking Him for yet another opportunity to continue breathing. So, I get up, I get ready [most days], and I go live my life for Him.
The first mile is probably the easiest. If I’m running at home, it’s typically a pretty even landscape. I love the feeling of this first mile, especially in the first half. My body starts to warm up, realizing the familiarity of the steps I’m taking. I typically have to push myself more starting at the mile and a half point. My terrain starts going uphill from here, which kind of annoys me on every run. It annoys me because I know that from this point on, I have to put in work. Similar to my life. When I start my days, I have lists of things I need to accomplish, want to see done in my life, and dreams for the future. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it sometimes, but in a way I asked for it. I go to church services and mission trips, and talk to fellow Christians and non-Christians. I talk to them about the things they love in their lives and the ways some seek out the Lord. Within everything I have done in my life, it hasn’t been a cake walk. Sometimes, just like my mile and a half mark, I have to work harder than other moments. In my runs I have two choices: to put in the work and push forward like I know my body can handle, or, don’t. In my life on the daily, I often face a very similar selection. I’d like to say that every time, every run, every day, I choose the first. I’d like to think that I’m the type of person who loves a good challenge, and who will put in the work to be where she wants. And I am, I don’t have to wish for all of that stuff, I am her. I know these small details about myself. However, I know also that I am human. Just as you. I am not God, I will not go on without having a break in my chain link. I am filled with hopes and dreams, running right along side disappointments and fallen strides. The more important aspect to me, is what I do in those moments. Whether or not I choose to stop and breathe, or push on and breathe level. There’s definition about myself and my character in those times.
I read a blog [surprise!] recently about two different types of happiness-instant gratification and fulfillment, it definitely took notice in my mind. I knew all about instant gratification before I read these words. Being human, I automatically lean towards this always. I want what I want, and I want it now, right? No. God doesn’t work like that, 9.99 times out of 10. He is a patient God, and one of our main goals is to be more like Him, so here’s to learning patience. Fulfillment, ugh, when you read about it, it makes you think there’s no way you’d ever want instigrat. ever again. I’m telling you, the way this blog put it, fulfillment should be sought out solely.
So, back to my runs and my daily life. In those moments, those defining times, I have a choice. On the days when I’m not the strongest and I choose to stop and breath, I give myself a little pep talk. I remind myself that I can’t be strong all the time, and how beautiful that is. I tell myself that even though I stopped and I view myself as ‘weak’ or ‘incapable,’ that God doesn’t see me that way. That He will continue loving and adoring me, even when I feel I’m not enough. Story of our lives as Christians, huh? Then there are the other days, the ones where I continue to push on. My pep talk is a little different on these days. Our natural heart wants to boast, to pat our back and say great job. This definitely isn’t a bad thing, just something to be cautious of. Simply put, I’ll refer to Galatians 6:7-8.
‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.’
When I choose to push forward, and fight back against the struggle right in front of me, it is not of my own courage. Which brings me to pretty much every mile forward in my runs. I cannot even explain to you the amount of times I want to stop and breathe while I’m set out on a run. Literally it feels like every second I’m thinking about the next time I’m going to take a break. To be honest, it’s frustrating to me. Instead of being a whinebag, I thought about it the other day. I thought about my thoughts while I’m running, my motive, and where my strength comes from. Simply, it’s God.
I look at my runs, and I think they aren’t that fantastic. To me, there’s nothing special about how many miles I put in, or lack. I’ll tell people I like to run. I’ll get the typical ‘WHY?!‘ response, and I’ll tell them my distances. People look at me like I’m crazy, and say they could never do it. Well, I’ve been ‘Not being able to do it’ for years and years now. And I can tell you that it feels absolutely amazing to slowly grow in something I love to love, as well as my faith. During my runs, when I feel those moments of altering emotion, I pray. A lot of the time, I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think my body is strong enough to handle one more mile. My mind says I can, but what does it know? So, I pray. Insanely loud and beyond angry music blaring through my headphones, breathing heavy but attemptedly paced, and feet pattering in sync, and I’m praying. I’m asking God to give me the strength to carry on. I’m letting Him know that it is a desire of my heart to be strong enough to keep pushing on, and that I believe through Him that I am capable. Sure enough, God knows. This morning on my run when I prayed this same prayer, He answered within the next song on my shuffled phone list. I was in my last mile, kind of like a cool down mixed with one last pick me up. I was exhausted and could have easily given in to my unwilling legs. But then ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds came through my headphones. Instantaneously I smiled, and heard myself outspokenly thank God over the blare of my music. With that, the end of my run felt so much better. I winded home, walked it out, stretched, and felt accomplished. The sad part about this, is the reality of it. It took me until my third mile, to start praying to God. I was already halfway done with my goal of the morning, and I did that without a whisper to God spoken. One thing I know though, is how much better my run would have been, had I asked God for strength earlier. How similar that is to everyday life..How many times I go through my life trying to carry the weight of the world on my own two shoulders. How silly, foolish, and human of me. There are many times in life I need to reach out to God. Moments I’m quite aware that the only thing able to hold onto me and bring my heart back to earth are Him. Yet, I wonder similarly why it takes me getting to the edge of that cliff before I cry out to Him. It’s foolish really, but a very common worldly pattern. A pattern I’m determined not to live out in my time here on earth.
So now I have to realize the importance of this running lesson. I have to remember that God should be my number one, always. My closest pal, the pursuer of my heart, my one love. I know that deep down, that will always be what I crave the most. An un-hindering love that He supplies greatly, something every heart longs for. I have to be disciplined enough to guard my time with Him throughout my crazy busy days and weeks as a growing adult. I have to hold onto Him, like He holds onto me.
Today, and everyday, I’m grateful for His lessons. I’m grateful for simple things such as early morning runs, lemon poppy seed muffins, and beauty without glam. I’m thankful that my life is organized beautiful chaos, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.