Thursday, April 12, 2012

Run, Forrest, Run. (A lesson in Identity)

Compartmentalizing life is easier than one could imagine.

When I began running, I didn't really give any thought to there being a spiritual aspect to running. I hear a lot of people intertwine the two, but I wasn't getting it. I mean... I was just running. What does that have to do with God?

As I was driving to meet my running group for a 6 mile run (so about 3 weeks into the program), I heard the Lord ask me - "Are you ready to let me into this yet?" Huh. I responded with, "sure". Then proceeded the rest of my drive to contemplate what that meant. How do I let God into my running? I was so confused. As I continued on my run, all I could do was to thank God for my energy, the strength to run, etc.... I also asked Him to clarify what it meant to let him into my running, because I was still unsure.

If you've hung around my blog (or me in real life) for any amount of time, it probably is no secret that I wrestle with identity. I struggle with what defines me, or what I want to define me. I have a lot going on in my life, and depending on what capacity you know me - I could be known for any number of things. A mom, a wife, a pastors wife, a singer, a writer, a cook, a friend, a mentor, a crazy person. Take your pick. I struggle often with feeling like I do a lot of things just okay. I don't really do any one thing amazingly well. And that bothers me - a lot. I know it shouldn't, but it does. So when I picked up running - it's no surprise that my mind ran with what could be. (Pun intended.) Maybe, just maybe - I was going to be really good at something. I pictured myself as this super athlete with 5 kids who everyone would be in awe of. I would be in fantastic shape with that runners body I always dreamed of.

I know...this is a funny story, huh? Seriously. Me?? A superstar athlete. Um, no. It is not who I am. I get that now. But let's take it back to me letting God into my running. As I wrestled with my identity, with body image (more on that to come in a later post), with my new found hobby - God slowly revealed to me what it meant to invite him into my running.

Here's the story:

On week 5 of my training, I got hit HARD with the stomach flu. I completed one run the entire week. Stomach flu hit on Wednesday morning, and it was a solid 48 hours before I felt anywhere close to whole again. so I went to bed Friday night feeling like I just might make my Saturday long run (8 miles). However, my sleep was interrupted by my oldest child who had been struck with the misery I had just days earlier lived through.

Here is an email I sent to my running coaches the next day.

last night before bed, i was feeling like i could do the run this morning. clothes were laid out, and alarm was set. but then, providence woke up once, and i was annoyed thinking - "she's gonna ruin my chance to run" - rather than feeling love and compassion toward my child who was feeling the misery i had felt just days earlier. the next time she woke up, i quickly became agitated again thinking i for sure would NOT be able to wake up. but then as i was assisting her, i noticed my head was hurting a little bit....maybe i wasn't feeling ready to go just yet after all. she wakes for a third time, and as i get up to help her, my head is hurting big time and the world is spinning - and in this, i hear God say to me to LET IT GO, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE. and that i need to take care of myself and my family and that is more than enough. so i went back to sleep just after turning off my alarm and helping provi. 

i woke up w/ a small headache, and was a little bummed to miss the run. i've really come to look forward to sat runs.

fast forward to 3:30 this afternoon and i decided my only physical goal for the day was to walk the poor dog who had been cooped up all week with a bunch of sickos. ;) but after about 5 minutes, i decided i felt okay to try a walk/run combo. after 10 minutes, i was still running and still feeling good. so in the words of Forrest Gump, "I just kept running". ;) but it's true. i did! around 3 miles, i began to thank God for the energy to keep going, and was asking for him to help me be wise w/ my distance, that i'd love to do the 8, but wanted to be wise. then it dawned on me....i won't be able to re-fuel if i do try to keep going! i have no water, no gel, nothing. so i was going to turn around...until i spotted the gas station up ahead and remembered that i had money in my pocket that i had intended to give my neighbor earlier in the day. so i tied up the dog and ran in for some "fuel" (haha!). i drank it down and kept going! 

i got home 80 minutes later. i took the truck out to track my mileage....and it was 7.8 miles (and i'm throwing in the extra .2 for extreme wind. :) ). i was so happy! and you know what??? today was maybe my best run ever! i felt good the entire time, and even felt like i could keep going. my legs were strong, head was clear, lungs felt good. i just was tired of circling my house trying to get to 80 minutes, so i let myself be done. :)

 i'm so glad God spoke to me in the night, and released me in the afternoon! :)

I had nothing to prove. My running was not my identity. At the moment I wanted to prove myself, God called me to be a mom, not a runner. Bringing him glory was in mommy-hood, not super athlete.There are plenty of times he calls me to do other things (other things being something outside of being a mom), but this was not one of them. He reminded me through this that my identity is in none of the things that I do. It is solely in Jesus.And THAT is a life worth living! 


Jeff said...

amen. a good lesson for me. i struggle a lot with identity - and have often resorted to finding myself in triathlon. i'm taking a break from triathlon this year - and i'm feeling a little lost. a gentle nudge from God (in the form of your blog!) that my identity is found in Him and Him alone. thx!

Kristina said...

I miss you:)

Christy said...

Your journey has been amazing! I relate so much to your identity struggles. Thank you for being real always.