I’m a runner. Although these days I often feel like an imposter when I say that – so maybe I should instead say, “I was a runner.” Or, “I used to be a runner.” Because, honestly, I don’t run that much anymore. And not only do I not run all that much, but I also unsubscribed to Runner’s World (okay, that happened a few years back), have stopped reading running blogs, and have no idea how many miles I’ve logged in my current pair of running shoes.
Clearly, not a runner.
But I’ve just started to run again after my daughter was born (which you can read about here and here), and I am reminded of the tremendous humility it takes to do something that was once easy. Not only was I a runner, once, but I was a good runner. Not an Olympian, not competitive on an elite team, but good for an average person.
I started running in middle school and haven’t really stopped since. There have been injuries and long, icy winters and months when I was bored or uninspired or too busy – but for the most part, I’ve been running for about two decades. So it’s never been that hard for me to go for a short run, or a quick run, or a short, quick run.
And then I had two kids. In less than two years. And let me tell you, that does a number on your body.
And now it IS that hard to go for a short run, or a quick run. And my short, quick runs are shorter and much less quick than before.
Now I go out for a run, and I’m tired and working hard and SO ready to be finished by the end. And I look at my watch and simultaneously feel proud of my hard work, of my sweat, of my ability to “do it,” and also disappointed because I see what the numbers are now – slower, shorter.
I am not as good as I once was.
I am not as good a runner, and it’s okay. I’m not as good a runner as many of my friends, colleagues, family members. And it is both okay and also good for me to accept where I am.
Humility. The quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people (according to Merriam Webster).
Humility doesn’t come easy for me – and certainly not about something that I once took pride in. It’s hard to be happy for my runner friends in their successes, and hard not to be bitter about what I don’t have or once was.
Over the summer, I read some great thoughts written by a friend of mine on one verse from the book of John, and the verse has lodged itself in my heart and mind, sticking with me and showing up in profound ways since.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
My life is about more than my own plans for it.
But if I believe that God is who He says He is, then I can’t pick and choose what to follow, how much to rely on Him, which sacrifices to make. He asks for it ALL, because he has given us it ALL. And in order for me to have the strength and the courage to do this, to accept this challenge of giving Him everything, I must decrease. And He must increase.
I can’t say that I want to worship, love, obey, depend on God in only some ways, on some days, as long as I’m getting what I want too. I need to hold more loosely my ideas for my life and how it should go, and grasp with strength His plan for me and for my life.
And right now, His plan involves being a dedicated mother and wife. It involves loving and serving the very people the closest to me. I should by no means neglect myself, or turn my life (or attitude!) into one of martyrdom, but I should reorient my priorities so that I am not at the center.
I think that, the more that I am able to become less and invite Him to become more, the more that I will start to want what He wants for me, and the more I will start to be satisfied with what He has given.
It won’t necessarily be easy, this path, but it’s a challenge that I am accepting. More of Him, less of me.
So when I go out for my run tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after, or whenever it is that I find the time and energy to go, I will put one foot in front of the other gratefully, knowing that in my current slowness and out-of-shapeness, I am also loving and serving well. I am learning to be humble and to accept where I am. I am reorienting my priorities.
And most importantly of all, I am trying to make more room for Him in my life, and more room to do His work. The running will come back someday (or it won’t. but I think it will), and I will be glad for it. I will miss it, in the meantime, but I will also keep at it when I can, one step at a time.