Tag Archives: Running

What is most deeply true

Lagging in the middle

Any runner will tell you: it’s a mental sport.

You train hard to be in good shape, but even the most fit runner knows that it’s easy to get psyched out — not just by competition, but by yourself.

When I run, I’m always strongest at the beginning at the end. It’s the middle of my run, no matter the distance, that lags the most.

I start to worry that I don’t have what it takes to keep up my pace. I calculate and re-calculate split times in my head, trying to figure out what benchmarks I need to be hitting.

And all that anxiety and self-doubt slows me down.

That’s the irony. It helps to stay focused, but it doesn’t help to fret.

Don’t listen to your head

My brother, also a runner, sometimes does time trials with me. He stands at the finish line, watch in hand, and encourages me to hit my goals as I come around for each lap. Sometimes he’ll even run a few of those middle laps, the lagging ones, right behind me to keep me on pace.

“Listen to your body,” he tells me, “not your head.”

And I do.

Underneath the mental chatter about whether or not I can keep this up for another 10 minutes is the quiet, steady truth of what my body is really capable of. I often find that my mind has been telling me I can’t maintain a pace that actually feels fine for my body.

When I stop checking in with my fear and start checking in with my capacity, something inside me settles down. Those are the times I’m able to run more smoothly and easily.

The truest love story

I think often about how our spiritual lives follow the same pattern: when we get caught up in stories of self-doubt, we often slow ourselves down. We can cover over what is most deeply true about us: that we are created, redeemed, whole, and beautiful.

That we are, each of us, children of God. That we are immeasurably and abundantly loved.

That we have been given a spirit of power, not fear. That we are set free.

So, if you find yourself lagging in the middle, distracted by stories your mind is telling you about whether or not you have what it takes to keep going: stop checking in with your fear, and start checking in with your capacity.

Don’t listen to your head. Listen instead to the ever-present truth:

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39)

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5 Ways to Jump Start Your Spiritual Life

Getting out the Door

When I complain that I don’t have enough motivation to get out the door and go running, my sister-in-law often reminds me: “That’s what separates the runners from the non-runners.”

She’s quoting a line I often give to her. Anyone can run, the difference is just that some people actually do. I’ve been a runner for years, and I still have a hard time just getting myself out the door. I don’t think that challenge ever goes away.

Developing your spiritual life works the same way as developing a fitness routine. Anyone can do it: what matters is that you go do it. The advice below isn’t anything new or fancy or complicated because I believe that what you do doesn’t matter as much as that you do it.

What separates a plateaued spiritual life from a thriving one is just getting out the proverbial door.

5 ways to jump start your spiritual life

  • Get a different perspective

I’m not speaking metaphorically here. I mean literally changing your usual point of view. Lay on your kitchen floor, pray from inside your closet, go barefoot for a few hours, roll down a hill, get into your house by climbing through a window, walk home on a different street.

I’m often amazed at what I miss because I’ve become dissociated from what I’m doing, which is too bad because earth’s crammed with heaven.

  • State what you want

If you know you want something different in your spiritual life, you need to tell someone. Preferably multiple someones. Tell God — meaning pray about what you want. Tell your support system — meaning call on the people who care about you for encouragement and accountability.

And if someone in particular is involved in the change you want, tell them. If you want a deeper relationship with her, ask her over for dinner. If you want some empathy and compassion, ask him for it. If you want more worship time, ask friends to join you. You might not get a ‘yes,’ but the act of stating what you want is clarifying and freeing in itself.

  • Pray without ceasing

In order to do this, you’re probably going to have to re-frame your idea of prayer. If you’re not a big fan of being seen talking to yourself in public, put in an earpiece and talk to God on the phone. Sometimes, when I feel words aren’t enough, I make up songs. Write daily gratitude lists, practice the spiritual examen at night, designate certain doors as “pray-ways” and commit to praying every time you walk through that particular door, do yoga, walk a labyrinth, find a new worship service, recruit a prayer partner, write prayers on your walls, set up an altar in your bedroom.

Whatever prayer practices you develop, they should work for you. It isn’t about quotas or answers or self-pressure or expectations. It’s about opening your heart a little bit wider every chance you get.

  • Talk to someone very young or very old

Children and elders have incredible wisdom, and, generally, they love to share it! If you find yourself asking tough questions in your own faith journey, ask those same tough questions to someone profoundly brilliant, like a 5-year-old. Or make friends with one of the seniors in your community and ask them to share a time when they learned a valuable life lesson. I’m telling you, stories are everywhere.

  • Learn your Enneagram type

I first learned about the Ennegram personality types from my spiritual director. I find the Enneagram more helpful than other personality typographies because it is geared towards self-understanding and personal development. Knowing my own tendencies and weaknesses has helped me deepen my self-acceptance and learn to move through those places where I get “stuck” more easily. Becoming familiar with other Enneagram types has helped me to understand other people (especially those who annoy or scare me) and tap into the strengths they bring to the table. This has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve found for personal and relational growth.

All kinds of great books have been written about the Enneagram. Fr. Richard Rohr has written about the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Don Riso wrote a series of Releases and Affirmations for each type that I find both healing and convicting. Talk about spiritual growth! [In case you’re curious, friends, I’m a 6.]

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What do you do when your spiritual life needs a jump start? What practices have you found most helpful for growing spiritually?

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Delight

Delight yourself in the Lord…
Psalm 37:4a

Delight: to take great pleasure in; to please greatly; extreme satisfaction

My new favorite running route takes me on the footpath around Fresh Pond. It hugs the 2.5 mile perimeter of the pond, and — aside from occasional entry points from the neighborhood streets — the path is surrounded by trees.

It’s lovely.

Yesterday evening, I arrived at the footpath via one of these entry points at precisely the same moment a boy of 7 or 8 biked past. He turned to look at me as I stepped onto the path and, at just the same time, rode directly through a gigantic puddle.

His eyes, saucer-wide, stayed locked on mine for the whole trip through the puddle.

This particular puddle was not just wet; it was muddy. Supremely muddy. And in those few seconds, this kid was covered in mud — all up his back, splattered on his face, everywhere.

It was awesome.

The perfection of our timing, combined with my knowledge that riding through a muddy puddle as a kid is the ultimate adventure, made me so happy that I grinned and giggled out loud.

The boy, who had stopped his bike, was still staring at me. When I laughed, a quiet, tiny smirk of pure pleasure crossed his face, as though my joy had given him permission to savor the moment.

Delight.

May our experience of God be as joy-filled as the trip of a 7-year-old boy through a muddy puddle. May the openness of our hearts allow us to soak up the sweetness of every moment’s perfect timing. May the strength of our communities be measured by the belly-depth of our laughter.

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