My rain-drenched jacket stung the skin of my neck, rubbing it raw and bringing a grimace to my face. I was four miles into a 12 mile run and the power in my legs had tanked after an invigorating ten minutes. My mind was frustrated and my legs were exhausted.
Suddenly, as if someone had hit the “OFF” switch, those faithful legs halted. Somewhat shocked, I found myself standing in the middle of a street, in pouring down rain, in complete despair.
“God,” I cried, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to live this way anymore.”
In a pure sense, I was talking about miles five through twelve; but I was also referring to the running addiction that had led me out of my apartment in the first place. At this point, I was cold and tired. I wanted to go home.
I heard the rumble of an approaching car and knelt to “tie my shoe.” In the midst of the charade, I began thinking about what would happen if I just didn’t finish the run. It was a novel idea, something I’d hardly considered up until that point. What if I went home,curled up in bed, and let my body rest? What would happen?
But the thought was too blissful – and terrifying – to let linger. I quickly adjusted my shoe and stood once more.
“Get going,” I preached to myself. “You got this.”
Just like that, the moment of bravery passed and I cranked out another six miles.
Why am I writing this? It’s a question I’ve agonized over for weeks–almost as long as I’ve sat on this blog post. I was kinda sorta hoping God would let me avoid this one – at least in the near future. At least until this little incident was years, not months, in the rearview mirror.
But then I heard that National Running Day was approaching, and I knew this message–one that rarely escapes any runner’s lips–needed to be shared.
If you’re like me, your news feed is overflowing with running-centric anecdotes today. If you’re not, let me enlighten you: Runners across our great nation are posting their ode to running. Like dutiful children, we’re giving our best regards to the sport we love. We’re reminiscing, celebrating, and congratulating each other. And it’s all healthy and good… until it isn’t.
See, I am incredibly grateful for the ability to run. Running is something I’ve enjoyed for 23+ years. It has helped me make friends, relieve stress, increase my resilience, pay for my college education, and take some crazy adventures.
But my okayness is not measured by the number of miles I run.
My “okayness,” and yours, isn’t gauged by exercise, reputation, or appearance. It doesn’t shift based on what car you drive, how well the kids are doing in school, or who wishes you happy birthday.
No, our okayness doesn’t have a thing to do with those factors. Even when it feels like it does.
Over the last six years, I’ve seen God recycle one garbage pile after another in my life. I’ve learned that running is a joy, eating disorders are living hell, and Jesus is bigger & better than both. That, my friend, is why I’m choosing to share this article, and the ugliness it reveals.
Our lives are worth more than these passions or people that promise to “make us okay” — whatever they are. Furthermore, I refuse to wait until I’m all cleaned up to acknowledge the glorious work in progress that God is doing. We will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony; and I’m not waiting to start that ascent.
For me, National Running Day looks a bit different this year. It means celebrating running a little less and looking to God a little bit more. I love the sport just as much as ever, but I’ve begun loving it with more intentionality.
An unbridled love of earthly things destroys both the lover and the source of affection, and I love Jesus (and I like running) too much to continue down that path. It’s wrecked havoc on my body and mind.
So, I’m bringing my cares to Jesus instead of running. I’m pressing into the anxiety that asks, “what’s going to happen if you run six miles instead of eight? What happens if you run slow instead of fast?”
An unbridled love of earthly things destroys both the lover and the source of affection, and I love Jesus (and I like running) too much to continue down that path.
Whatever you’re clinging too a little too tightly—because most of us have something—dare to ask these questions. Don’t let fear distort the life and the gifts that God has created for your good and His glory.
Fear, quite literally, runs from the questions. It bolts in the opposite direction with shoes of lightning and a conscience of lead. But faith stands in the middle of the road. It lets the thunder roll and the rain pour down, and it asks: “But what if I’m free?”
4 thoughts on “In It For the Long Run”
Thanks Hannah for being real! I’ve been struggling with a little thing called Mahjong Blossom on my phone. I keep deleting the app, but reinstall it not long after. I’ve spent up to 6 hours in one stretch just playing round after round to the point of numbness. I even realized I was choosing to play it instead of visiting with my family that was there! I have been asking the Lord for MORE of Him and what He has for me, but zoning out and not plugging into HIm. You’d think after 30’some years of following Christ I’d be above all this foolishness, but NO! Praise Jesus for His sufficient grace and the Father’s mercy to point things out and give us power to overcome.
Wow! Amazing when God answers our prayers; we should expect it, but it’s always amazing! I’ve not had a game on phone or computer for almost a month now. Thanks for joining me in prayer
This post was so, so beautiful! This is something that I’ve had to discover for myself as a runner too…
“But faith stands in the middle of the road. It lets the thunder roll and the rain pour down, and it asks: “But what if I’m free?””
^I love that closing line so much! I actually named my. blog “Let’s Run Free” because I’ve realized the importance of embracing the freedom that Christ offers us
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I’m so glad this encouraged you! Thanks for reading. 🙂
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