For me running, or in my case schlogging, is a spiritual discipline. It seems to be when I am able to “be still” and know He is God. And yes, I see the irony of it, but thankfully God is not legalistic about this. I see better, and many times I feel like God gives me object lessons. I wrote about a difficult long object lesson I lived out because of my stubbornness in IT Band https://inkblotlife.com/2018/10/30/it-band/.
So last year when I finally got to run in a race after two years of watching my family run without me, it was very emotional. Although it was not quite what I expected. The race is on an actual car race track and it is up on a hill. My husband had shared each year about the amazing views, and I could not wait to see them, only it was so foggy I could only see a few feet in front of me at best. There were not views. There was lots of unknowns. I had no idea where the hills were, and how long the upward was going to last. Would there be a good length of downhill to catch my breath and make up some time? Where was the end, literally?
God showed Himself in many ways as I schlogged along that day. My word last year was persevere. Running when you cannot see, or when you do not know how long the harder stuff will last, takes perseverance. I also was so thankful for the mile marker people. The road markers were so helpful to let me know I was on the right track and making progress. Having them cheer meant so much to me last year. It reminded me how much we need to cheer each other on, let each other know we are on the right track and making progress, telling each other to keep going even when it is hard because the end is coming even though we cannot see it.
This year I ran, well schlogged, and even that is probably a generous term. If you have been following my exercise saga in my Daybook posts, you know it has not gone well between the treadmill breaking, weather, exhaustion, and just general lack of motivation. But God was gracious and I ran. I felt like God was telling me in my soul to just run the race He has for me to run, at the pace He has for me. I was not to look at others, or try to keep up, or pass, or anything. Just run at a steady pace. When I got to downhills I could actually see they were bigger than I remembered, and as I opened my stride and allowed myself to do the controlled fall down the hill that feels slightly out of control, I felt like God was telling me some seasons feel that way, and even though they feel weird and out of control, there is much ground being made up.
The slow steady pace got me through the whole race. I just kept moving. More sacred echoes of the message to persevere. Different parts of the track, felt different, and looked different, and I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” At the end of the race I had no extra kick to give but this was a good sign that I had given it all throughout the race. The running of my own race, at my pace got me where I was going, and even in the time I was hoping. I had even stopped to tie my shoes and ended where I was hoping.
Another part of running my own race was brought home to me about other people’s journeys and how they look to me and my thoughts. I have a hard time not feeling bitter at the runner with the jogging stroller who ends up running his journey at a faster pace. Really, do you have to make it look easy? But that echo in my heart, run your race at your pace, the way I ask you. Yours looks different. My spiritual walk looks different. I am not judged based on the other person running with a heavier load at a better pace. My race is mine.
And lastly, a beautiful lesson was learned as a friend of mine, unbeknownst to me, had invited a teen from our church to train with him for this race. The teen is blind. My friend and this teen had to learn how to run together. Arm and arm. My friend is a runner. He does marathons and all sorts of races in good time. Running with someone else is hard, no matter what, but running with someone who is connected to you and needs you to help them see is a completely different story. It was a beautiful picture of how there are times where we are the blind teenager who needs someone to challenge us to something bigger, and then allowing them to run with us and guide us into unchartered territory. Sometimes we are the experienced runner with the full vision to see and we need to be willing to slow down and run with the other person, as slow as they need but stay with them on that leg of their journey and not worry about our time and our journey but to lay that down for our brothers and sisters.
I am thankful for those who cheer me on. I am thankful for those who do it either by their example, or by their willingness to walk with me to help me to keep going. I am very thankful for a Savior who came down to earth to show us how to run this race, and press on for joy set before Him, enduring the cross and allowing us to share in His victory over death in the resurrection, but then the lavishness of sending the Holy Spirit to live in us and help us and empower us to run the race marked out for us, throwing off anything that hinders us.