A couple of years ago I stopped running. A foot problem meant that it was painful to run (a bunion to be precise, ‘Ugh, Mum, don’t say that!’ protest the daughters) . As I’ve said before, running with The Running Sisters is one of the things I’ve missed since I’ve been in Canada. I loved running with them across the Downs, on the seafront, along rivers, through Bluebell woods and along the streets of Worthing. A different place every week. I discovered beautiful places that I never knew existed through joining that group of runners and got to run further than I ever would have done alone.
Although I tried to keep going by myself after we moved, at best it was intermittent, and then I lost motivation and was in pain so stopped. The winters don’t help as there are months when running on the trails and streets isn’t either possible or safe. It’s easy to lose momentum.
Fast forward to the present and a change of mind. Suddenly, I found resolve and determination. It didn’t seem right that I was letting a bit of pain stop me from doing something I love. There are plenty of people suffering far worse than myself who have run marathons, even across countries. I had to at least try! For the last few weeks, I’ve dusted off my running shoes and made myself go out. Slowly, my stamina is improving. Slowly, the distances I run are increasing. Sometimes it takes giving myself a talking to (in my head) to get me out the door early in the morning. It feels good so far. I’m not running for very long or even very far, but I’m doing it, and the pain isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.
I knew I’d be making progress when I could think about other things apart from breathing or ‘How soon can I allow myself to walk for a bit? The next tree? Next lamp post? At the fire hydrant? Now?!’ Even the worship music in my earphones hadn’t drowned out the effort. This morning I did it. I noticed I wanted to keep going, I got into my stride and I thought about other things.
It hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks. There have been struggles and discouragements that have made me want to give up in other areas of my life. There are battles that I don’t want to fight, disappointments that get me down and doubts that nag at me. I’ve questioned my purpose in doing anything, from parenting to writing. I’ve wanted to escape – to curl up and lose myself in books maybe.
What I thought this morning is that I need that same change of mind that I had to get me out running to deal with the other things, but fueled a bit more with Holy Spirit power. That as I’m overcoming obstacles to get fit, I need to overcome obstacles in other areas and keep going. Keep trusting. Keep loving. Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep parenting. Keep writing. Everything that’s part of my race to run. It’s easy to stop doing anything when things get too painful or when things are not going as hoped. There are always going to be setbacks, difficulties to overcome and disappointments along the way, but they don’t have to be given in to, they don’t have to mean defeat. What looks like failure often leads to victory.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)