I love running. I didn’t always. It grows on you.
In my middle school and high school years the only thing I loved about running was when it was over.
But in college, when I was battling an eating disorder, I began to tap into the benefits of running — stress reduction, calorie burning, cardio-vascular health. I found another benefit when I began to date my future husband. We ran together. On our after-school runs (we were both teachers), we would talk and laugh while letting go of the stress from the day, pounding out the miles.
Although I took a break from running while we were raising our children, I started up again when we moved to the seminary. Again, I found it useful for exercise, stress-busting, and ultimately, bonding with my daughter and many students. In fact, I was able to run two half-marathons and many 5k races before I had to sideline myself due to fatigue and pain.
Over the years I have connected with Scripture that uses running analogies, ‘they will run and not grow weary’ (Isaiah 40:31), ‘run that you may obtain the prize’ (I Cor. 9:24), ‘let us run with endurance the race marked out for us’ (Hebrews 12:1). These were images I could relate to. Running and not getting tired, running and winning a prize, running a race that had been chosen for me.
But to be honest, as you know I have to be, running was part of that soldier mentality that believed that I could do all things through me because of my strength. Yeah, that’s not really scripture. I am aware.
Probably the knowledge that running would no longer be part of my daily routine was one of the first blows toward destroying that self-reliant attitude that could keep God on the sidelines. That blow hit hard. Running had become part of my identity. I was the ‘teacher who ran’, the ‘mom who ran’, the girl whose heart rate and blood pressure were amazingly low, ‘because she ran’.
Transitioning to walking was a blow. But ultimately it was the beginning of a slow-down that has changed my entire pace of life, of thinking, of being.
I used to rush to work, rush home, hurry to change so I could run, hurry home so I could make dinner, quickly wash the dishes, take a few minutes to straighten the house, make sure the kids had everything they needed, ‘sleep fast’, as my dad would say, and get up to do it all over again. I was rushing so much that I didn’t really take time to feel, or process how anyone else was feeling.
I don’t rush very much any more. I roll out of bed, stumble through my routine, work up to doing Pilates, saunter out for a walk, stop to talk to people in my path, write about my experiences, think, read, feel, rest, sleep. Rinse, repeat. Nothing happens very quickly, but plenty happens.
I have been thankful for this transition, while at the same time being a little sad about it. I mean, I was rocking the running routine. Even if I was leaving the people that I care about in the dust.
At the moment, I’ve got nothing but time. So, I am walking. And this morning, in my Bible study, I was challenged by Paul, Silas, and Timothy to “walk in a manner worthy of God” I Thes. 2: 12. I was reminded that God Himself walked in the Garden of Eden, that Enoch walked with God, and Noah walked with God. Maybe walking isn’t so bad. I mean, I have noticed already, that I am not alone.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and
walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…