Running helps Me listen
My four-year-old is going through another phase too. At first, I thought it was my fault. We recently became foster parents and have brought in two younger siblings. So my four-year-old thinks he can revert to his old ways and act like a two-year-old. But...I spoke with other parents of four-year-olds and found out their kid went through this phase too: The WHINEY Phase. (It's even the inspiration for sites like: reasonsmysoniscrying.com)
On the one hand, it can be pretty funny and hard for my wife and I to contain our laughter at some of the things he Whines about and gets all upset. (In fact, just this morning he started into whining after he got his pajamas off, but before he got dressed: buck-naked and whining.) Usually, he's whining because something's not going his way.
Yesterday afternoon, I had gotten ready to go for a run, and he was going to go out and play in the backyard. He was told to do two things first: go to the bathroom, and get his jacket on. Well, the jacket sleeves wouldn't cooperate and were inside-out. So he started whining. Then I tried to "help" (read "do-it-for-him") and he whined even more because he wanted to do it himself. Well, my patience ran out because I was in a hurry to leave on my run. So I raised my voice (yelled), asking him to stop whining, and he started crying. So I stepped away, counted to 10, came back and actually helped him do it himself instead of doing it for him. Then, I left on my run.
My honest thoughts when I started my run were, "I don't know what to do! I wish he would just stop it! How do I get him to stop?" Well, it took 5.75 miles and lots of other meandering thoughts, but the last quarter mile of my 6-miler, as I turned and could see my house in the distance, the thought occurred to me again: "I don't know what to do." And the light-bulb went off! I thought: "That's it! You don't have to do anything! Just ignore him when he's like that. Show him that acting like that doesn't get the attention he wants. You don't know what to do because the answer is do nothing."
So I got home, and started getting ready for supper. Turns out my son didn't go outside after all, and wasn't even wearing his jacket (figures). It wasn't long before he was whining again (because he needed new pants and didn't want to go upstairs to his room to get them). And this time, I ignored him and let him know that's not how to get help or get what he wants.
So, running...It helps me listen. It helps me have patience. It helps me learn and grow. I just hope I can keep it up.
Lessons from Running: Sabbath
People will ask me, "How often do you run?" I usually reply with "Five days a week." In reality, I could respond saying that I run everyday, but I'm good about resting. Rest is important when you're training hard. In fact, I'd rather do my best to not miss a "rest day" than a training day because lack of rest can cause all kind of problems.
The same thing is true for life. Whether it's your spiritual life, your work life, your home life, or just life period, taking time to rest is critical to your health. My experience running backs this up. If I don't rest, I'm could end up with all kinds of problems:
Injury is probably the one I worry about the most, so I rest. I rest two days a week, and my training plan includes weeks where I cut back on the mileage for the week. Sometimes on rest days, I'll do something different like walking or cycling. But there's at least one day a week where I simply rest.
Sabbath rest is one of the teachings of the spiritual life of Judaism and Christianity (and possibly others). It's a practical lesson for health in your life. You can't go 110% all of the time and not pay the consequences. Your family suffers because you're not around or you're not engaged when you are around. Your work suffers because eventually you can't focus as much. Your health suffers with fatigue, or you start self-medicating with comfort food or other stuff. Not resting results in a lot of suffering. We need rest that renews us.
The key piece to Sabbath rest is Renewal. There are some things we do that are restful, but don't always renew us. I've done things that are fun to do and are enjoyable, but when that's done I have nothing to show for it except that time is gone. Sabbath rest renews my soul and my mind. It's actually an investment in myself so I can relate in healthy ways to my family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, etc.
So doing nothing, can actually be doing a lot! Take a good Rest and be
Why I Keep Running
Originally, I thought I'd title the post "Why I Run" because a lot of people think I'm crazy for running multiple miles 5 days a week. But running is not crazy. It's good for you! (just do a quick search and you'll find stuff like: http://www.runnersworld.com/health/nine-surprising-ways-running-helps-your-body). It's not for everybody, but it is beneficial. So running itself is not crazy. In fact, I like to quote Eric Liddel's character in the movie Chariots of Fire as to why I run:
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure
Now, I'm not really fast, but I've always been slightly taller than others because I have long legs. Ever since I was a little kid I thought that God gave me long legs so I could run without taking as many steps as everybody else! Since I'm not very fast, I just run long distances. I'm currently training for my second marathon which has me up to 40+ miles per week that I run. Now that sounds crazy! So why do I KEEP running?
I've asked myself that a lot lately. I've hit the marathon training blues. A lot of mornings I don't want to get out of bed so early (which isn't even that early) just so I can start my day with a run before it gets too hot. But I go out running anyway. And as I run I'll cuss at myself a few times until I get warmed up or when I want to quit. But I keep going, and going. Why?
Because I'm growing, and getting stronger. It's not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I keep running because I'm training myself, disciplining myself. I keep running even when I don't want to because I have to. I have to because I have a goal in mind, but also because I'm becoming a disciplined person, a tough person.
We live in a culture that often says, "do what you want! do what feels good!" and "if it's not what you want or it doesn't make you feel good, then don't do it." We let the fulfillment of our preferences and pleasures dictate our psyche and our general demeanor and approach to life. I don't think that's healthy.
I keep running because it's preparing me for times in my job, in my family life, and in life in general when I have to do what's right even though I don't want to or I don't feel like it. Because I have a greater goal in mind. It's actually not my goal, it's God's goal: new creation, peace, love, joy, God's presence for everyone.
Running is a spiritual discipline. It is communion with God. It is developing me into someone who won't stop or give up, someone who will know to do what's right even if I don't want to or it doesn't feel good. I keep running because I want, I have to, I must. It may look crazy to train so many miles per week, but I want to be ready when the time comes. I want to persevere and have courage. Running trains me for that. So I keep running.
I've been away from blogging for a while now due to a full schedule. Some of you may know that I'm training to run a marathon (which you can sponsor here: www.40forfestival.com). As I've written before, running can be compared to Holy Communion--and I feel like I've been keeping constant communion. I run 4-5 days a week, and my mileage is up to 35 miles a week, and not a day goes by that I can't feel the effects of running. I'm looking forward to tapering that back soon, but until the race is over on Oct. 20th I'm prioritizing running in my schedule.
This has been good for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It's especially helped me realize that I can be disciplined and work towards achieving goals. There are times that I want to quit, or not get up early and run, but I keep going. I often ask myself "why am I doing this to myself?" I always figure out an answer to keep myself motivated, or I just decide to go run no matter what and force myself to run. Those runs are hard to start, but fun to finish. I especially like the feeling I get from my long runs because I accomplish something I didn't think was possible, and often it's before breakfast!
I hope to gain momentum from the discipline of running and develop discipline in other areas like prayer, bible study, blogging, and music. The point of developing spiritual disciplines: constant communion with God. Like Jesus' words in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can't do anything." I want my life to bear good fruit that comes from God. I want God to work through me. I can't expect that without abiding in Him and keeping constant communion.
Keeping the bigger goal of the marathon in mind, motivates my running. I have to run. Maybe as a Christian, I can keep a bigger goal in mind to motivate my spiritual disciplines so that I have to keep constant communion. What would that goal be? Paul talks of a heavenly prize. Jesus mentions storing up treasures in heaven. I like the John 15 passage talking about bearing fruit. The goal is seeing more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control in the lives of people around me: my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, church-attenders, enemies, etc. So that more people know and attain the heavenly prize.
It's hard to put that goal into words and make it tangible--maybe that's why spiritual disciplines can be difficult, but constant communion is worth it.
Running is like Holy Communion
This past week, I registered to run my first marathon this October in Kansas City. I have an 18 week training plan I found; I'm currently in week two. Part of me is saying, "YOU'RE CRAZY! You're going to put your body through a lot of pain and agony." The larger part of me (is looking to get smaller! LOL, I'm looking forward to the weight loss.) is excited for the added health and well-being I look to gain from this experience. A couple weeks ago, I was out for a jog with some friends, and we got to talking about running, and something like these words came out of my mouth: "I had become something I really didn't like or want to be. Running keeps me healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually." That conversation revealed a lot to me.
When I was in high school, I used to run all the time. I ran some in college, and even less in seminary, until I hardly ran at all. Fortunately, I had one 5k race I would do every fall, and that kept me running at least a month or two each year, but other than that I had become out of shape in more ways than one.
Now that I'm back on a regular running schedule, some things have started to come back to me. I am realizing that the time I spend running is time that I can commune with God. At first, I'll be honest, it was mainly a physical thing, but now that I'm in better shape, I can have the conversations and reflections with God that I really need and long for.
On one such run, I realized that the suffering I go through while running is a reminder of the suffering that Jesus went through on the cross (though His was much more painful and violent). Much like sharing the broken bread and the poured-out cup of Holy Communion is a reminder of Jesus's suffering, death, and resurrection. So when I run, I commune with God, and I am being made new.
Now, every metaphor has its limits, and this one does too. First, running is primarily individual, while communion is celebrated with the church. Next, the suffering of running is self-inflicted and it doesn't compare to Jesus' suffering, nor the vast suffering that goes on in our world today, but for me, pushing my body to its limits and beyond is a reminder of what Jesus and others go through when they face suffering.
One last thought on running, it's a great way to get to know my way around town! Keep praying for us as we begin our ministry here in this new context.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.