I’m not a runner. I don’t get those illusive things you people call endorphins. I just get weary… and shin splints. I recently heard that running is actually not beneficial for people with my particular health concerns. That made me feel much better. But… I’d still like to be a runner. Someday.This quote on running has really gotten to me:
Focusing your gaze on points that are in close proximity to your current position will result in greater stress and mental fatigue… When focusing or ‘fixating’ on a point much further away, you will find that you will run more easily and freely, and feel as though you are being pulled toward that point.” (Derek M. Hansen in ‘Where you Look Can Affect How You Look: Running Mechanics and Gaze Control’, qtd in HFTWM, pg 60)
This spoke to me this week. I run often looking at my feet. I know that doesn’t look pretty when dancing but never thought about it with running too!
And in life, all I could see this week was the immediate hormonal chaos right in front of me. The waking up crying. The instability. Feeling held captive by my own physiological chains. And when I focused on that defeat, it quickly began to affect every part of my identity, hope, family and relationship with God.
“Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home” comforted me this week, as if the Spirit was singing it to me. They were in a different form of bondage and slavery, a literal one. But not in their spirits. Their spirits were free! Those old gospel songs gave them the hope they needed to get through the next step, the next day. Fixing their gaze on the Hope ahead. Looking up, looking ahead, toward that glorious day of His return.
This week we went bike riding and my little one refuses to push those pedals. My husband, on her behalf, told me, “It really is pretty warm out here,” as sweat poured off his face. “Oh, it feels great! Nice and warm! Let’s ride!” The baby was getting pummeled by the dog (they ride in the bike trailer together behind me). He barked in the trailer the whole time, demanding we go back to air conditioning.
My big girl whined…”I can’t. I can’t!” I smiled when my mom popped out of my mouth, “Can’t never could do nothing!” It didn’t seem to help her. I should probably read her the Little Engine that Could.
Nonetheless, she kept looking straight down at her pedals or the ground immediately in front of her. She’d even look behind her (and of course tipped over)! What is she thinking? She swerved. She wobbled. It wasn’t going well.
Inspired by this quote, I told her look up ahead to that tree. That’s our goal. Keep your eyes on your goal and you’ll get their faster.
I felt like I was dragging her.
“Look at me! Look at me!” I cheered from up ahead. The baby chimed in, chanting, “Look at me! Look at me!” It helped my oldest for a while, til she looked back down. An hour or two later, we finished our very short ride. Faces were bright as a red apple and even our necks were sweating. I thought, ‘This was fun!’ But they looked tortured.
(The next day, I found out the heat index was over 109*! I’m always ice cold so I thought it was about 85*! Whoops. That’s one more downside to having a mama whose hormones are off!)
Poor little one. I am so much like her. The Lord’s like “Look at me!” And I’m hot and mad and feeling insecure, “No! I can’t do this anymore!!!” as I swerve and wobble along.
Peter in the waves, anyone? Yep. That’s me.
Here’s how He got my attention and helped me change my gaze again… This week, it was by sending along some friends. Some yellow roses of friendship, prayers, playing with my kids so I could rest, sharing the new puppy, gently nudging me to call the doc. It turned out to be a beautiful week after all, and I’m glad He didn’t require my own strength to change my gaze. Because I didn’t have an ounce left! He helped me.
Perseverance is not my strong suit. Which may be why I don’t love to run. Honestly, all I think of is suffering when I think of persevering.
What’s that verse again?
And not only so, but also we can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Woa! Looks like even though suffering and perseverance feel like synonyms to me, they are building blocks to God. Suffering is what teaches us to persevere. And what?!? There’s something good that comes out of that? A strong character. And character produces hope.
Here’s where I have to take my eyes off the suffering right in front of me and look at that tree of Hope way down the road. I have to trust God will all that’s in between.
I mentioned I had a lot of mornings waking up crying this week. I may cry out, ‘Why aren’t you hearing me Lord? How long, oh Lord, til you hear my cry?’ But I know just around the corner, a breakthrough is coming. Do Not Give Up. Persevere.
I’m thankful for the last couple days, when I woke in the morning with a “wooo!” at my nasturtium that bloomed. The one we patiently waited for. If that little orange flower was worth waiting for, how much more is my God?
Lord, thank you that when we are that far down, you don’t even require us to lift our gazes ourselves. You help us. In all things, we need you God. Help me be patient with you as you are patient with me. I love you Lord. You heard my cry. You are the God who hears me. Amen