Friday, September 3, 2010

Running: Lesson #1

I use to sit in the park and scoff at all the runners with their cute little short and iPods acting as though running was a perfectly sane and acceptable endeavor. Well, I'll have you know it's not. There has never been anything sane about huffing and puffing for at least a good 20 minutes in order to eat that chocolate chip cookie guilt free. However, in recent months I have joined the ranks of the insane and now find myself almost addicted to the sport. In addition to the incentive of toned legs and a tight butt, there are the endorphins that make running oh so good.

I run a very scenic route past fields, gardens, horses, and even a cute old church. My favorite moment on my run comes when I start a downward slope after a mile of subtle hills. The whole Willamette Valley suddenly opens up, and no matter how tired I am, at that moment, I feel like I could run forever. However, I find myself often paying more attention to my feet than the scenery. And in these moments where my feet are the focus, I grow tired as I listen to my breathing and think about how long I've been running. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other in perfect time. No matter how slow my progress down the road and how long it looks like before I'm up the next big hill, I know the steady pace of one foot then the next will eventually get me there.

There are other moments where my best option is to keep my eyes on my feet. I end my run by climbing an impossibly big hill. Mid-way through, there is a steep incline that lasts for about 500 feet. That's 500 steps and progress seems so slow as I look at the crest of that hill. However, if I dial in and pay attention to my pace and not the length of the hill, soon I'm able to look behind and see the progress I've made. The incline subsides and before I know it, I'm sprinting on the top.

My relationship with Jesus is no different. I'm either so focused on the moment and the pace of my feet or so focused on the scenic big picture, that I often forgot the balance between the two. Without the big picture, my pace is futile, but without the pace, I stand still in the big picture. Sometimes I'm so focused on where I'm at and the obstacle set in front of me that even monumental progress feels like no progress. I look at the big picture and think I'll never get there, I will never be there, and forget to celebrate the moment of the last 25 steady paces that allow me to take my place among the fields, and the barns, and the scenic Willamette Valley. And sometimes I'm so focused on those paces, I fail to see others around me; I fail to find the joy that comes from lifting my eyes to the hills and looking for hope that doesn't rely on me.

So, here's to the balance. Lesson #1 in running: keep your pace, don't try to match someone else's, but take some time to enjoy all that is around you. Soon like me, you'll be hooked on the endorphins.

No comments: