Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Staying the Course

I had one of those runs this morning that did more good for my mental and spiritual fitness than my physical fitness.

I have to confess that I have been dealing with a stressful situation lately. And, what exactly does this have to do with running? Absolutely nothing. Well, maybe a little, because, just like always, the time I spent running this morning completely cleared my mind. Running down a dark street at 5:30 in the morning forces you to be quiet, partly so that you can be aware of your surroundings, and partly because- well it's quiet at that time of the morning. During my morning run, it's usually just me and the occasional nocturnal creature I see and stear clear of.

Shortly after I started off on my normal 4.5 mile run this morning, I noticed that I was having to take many more walk breaks than usual. I thought about what could be causing my fatigue, and realized that the stress and anxiety I'd been feeling had negatively affected my sleep and was probably the cause . "No big deal", I thought. Four and a half miles is a long way and I often feel a little drained mid-run. So, just like I do anytime I feel a bit tired on a run, I started the pep talking. I told myself "suck it up, buttercup", followed by my usual, "come on, you've done this a million times. You know you can get through it. Just stay on course." At that moment, I felt God gently but firmly saying to me, "Come on, WE'VE done this a million times. Just trust me. I have ALWAYS carried you through. Just stay on course." And, I instantly knew, He was not talking about my morning run. God was speaking directly to me about my situation.

I immediately realized that I was anxious and scatter-brained because I was allowing myself to get distracted and off course. I was taking detour after detour down Worry Lane, which leads me to Anxiety Drive, and straight to a dead end in the middle of nowhere.

In my situation, I simply was not trusting God. And, why not? Have I forgotten all of the things he has brought me through in my life? I have been left, abandoned, and forsaken by people, but NEVER by God. I know this to be true because there have been times in my life when I have had no other choice than to trust that God would rescue me, and He always has. Despite the tragedy and hardships I have faced throughout my life, I have turned out pretty sane and level headed, and full of faith in the God who has seen me through all of it. So, why now, am I lacking in trust? I can blame it on my human nature to try to figure out how God is going to work out a situation, or how I can just work it out, so I don't have to depend on Him to do it for me. Or, I can blame it on my "trust issues". That would be completely popular and acceptable. Whatever the excuse I could have chosen to use, I knew in my heart and mind that I was wrong to not trust Him. 'Nuff said.

So, here I am in the middle of my run, tears welling in my eyes, thinking that it's really ridiculous how emotional I get sometimes when I run...but, also realizing that I simply cannot allow myself to be overtaken by JUNK like fear and anxiety.

I knew then that I was going to have to do a few things. First, I owed God an apology, which I wasted no time in giving. (We're cool now, by the way). Secondly, I was going to have to step back and recognize when fear was creeping up on me, and refuse to surrender to it. Besides, anyone who knows me knows that fear is just not me. I have never feared much, and I refuse to start now.

By this time, I was near the end of my run, and feeling so much less stressed, and a whole lot more level headed. I could think straight, without worry and anxiety clouding my every thought. Yes! I remembered this peaceful feeling. This is the feeling of sitting back, and realizing I am not the driver here, not even a backseat one. I need simply to trust the One who is.

For the last tenth of a mile, I started to feel full of energy again, full of "fight", realizing that I am strong and that as II Timothy 1:7 says, I have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of POWER... and a SOUND MIND. I looked down, and my feet were pounding the pavement hard, and my legs were racing underneath me. Now, I felt like myself again- the fearless, full of faith me that I knew that I was! That me is a whole heck of a lot better than fearful, worried me. Fearless me is actually pretty Awesome! ;)

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