It was one of those days. The planning meeting ran long. Everything else in the work day took longer than planned too. My brain was foggy for a myriad of reasons. And then add in the fact that it was a Monday. Yeah, a Monday. It felt like a triple whammy against me.
I left work mid-afternoon to rush off to the next thing….picking up my kids from dance class. But during that drive, I suddenly discovered something glorious. Somehow…some way…. I was ahead of a schedule – an entire 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
30 minutes of undesignated time. Wow. What a gift.
I quickly recalculated my traffic plan, redirecting my route to a wooded park with walking trails. Equipped with workout clothes in my car, I quickly changed and mentally determined how to use my unanticipated free moments (which by now, were about 15 minutes.) Should I walk or should I run?
Life as a Runner
In the overall analysis of my life, you could say I am a runner. I started running at age 12. As our family moved frequently for my dad’s job, my running remained constant. New school… new friends…but Jennifer the runner was always the same.
My latter years of high school allowed me to experience excitement of being recruited and then the rewarding challenge of running at the college level.
As an adult, doing the “adulting thing” 24/7, which included motherhood at an early age, running became my therapy. When my marriage relationship wasn’t the strongest, I could go for a run and find God in the pounding of the pavement. When my job situation seemed questionable, I could clear my head with a run. When my kids were driving me crazy, I would run off the crazy, as some might say.
So you might think my idea to take a quick run on this mind-fog filled Monday afternoon would be a no brainer decision for me. Well, unfortunately not.
A Course Correction
July 18, 2016, while cooling down from a 7 mile run, I checked my email. There was a message from my doctor. “Dear Jennifer, I know you are working hard to improve from your Adrenal Failure Level 3 Diagnosis. You are doing well with your supplements, your sleep habits, and your diet. But don’t forget that running will delay your improvement. You can walk. But you shouldn’t run.”
Boom. I shouldn’t run, not even a little bit. I shouldn’t run at. all.
Now, perhaps you are reading this and you hate to run. You might be thinking, “I would love to be told by my doctor not to run!” So, instead, replace the act of running with your favorite pastime. Maybe you enjoy crafting, sewing, blogging, playing games on the internet, baking, shopping, decorating, planning family events, going to exercise classes at the Y. Think of your very favorite thing to do- the one thing you could say “this gives me life” and then be told you have to stop.
That’s what happened to me July 18, 2016.
Yes to God
I was in my 18th month of treatment for Adrenal Failure Level 3. The improvements were not happening at the rate my doctor or I would like. I suffered sleeping problems, terrible thinking problems, and sadly, suicidal thoughts more than once. Something drastic needed to be done because I needed to get better. And that drastic thing meant saying no to the 30 year mainstay of my life.
So I did. I said no to running.
I said yes to God.
That day I chose to die to myself, and place my trust in God alone.
And it helped. I started seeing a lot of improvement. 6 months after I stopped running, my adrenal issues improved to Adrenal Fatigue Level 1. I was on my way to recovery.
But now, 15 more months passed. And they hadn’t necessarily been easy ones. I’ve coined 2017 my year of chaos, and if you happen to know anything about adrenal issues, a chaotic household and schedule aren’t what the doctor would prescribe.
However, I didn’t really think about that as I analyzed my few minutes of free time. Would a quick 2 mile run really hurt? I decided not.
I embarked on a super slow trail run, justifying that it was barely more than a speed walk. But then, 1.5 miles in, I stopped because my body told me I shouldn’t be running.
Initially, I accused myself of being a failure. What was wrong with me? I’m a former ½ marathon runner who now couldn’t even muster up a solid 2 miles without needing a break. What a loser, I heard that voice in my mind say. “Just look how far you have not come.”
But wait! How far I have not come? That is not true! Look how far I have come. The fact that I was even willing to stop that run was the bigger message. It was all about dying to self. The self part of me wanted to do something that wouldn’t help me. God had…..God HAS a better way.
Psalm 16:11 says “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
God desires us to experience His pleasures. He has a path picked out for each of our lives. And He has designed us to be joyful beings, not one’s living amidst chaos. But experiencing those things means saying no to activities, habits, or passions in our lives that are not of Him.
Running, in itself, is not bad. In fact, for many, its very good. But in my case, it was (and still is) a stumbling block from achieving the life God has for me. And that means, I have to let that desire inside of me die, so that God can cultivate the true desires that He has prescribed for my ultimate healing.
Do you find yourself living amidst mental chaos? Are you trying to experience true spiritual healing and breakthrough, but can’t seem to see the clear path?
Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds us to “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to run again. I don’t consider the act of running to be a sin, so it’s not the kind of thing that initially I would say would require me to die to myself. But in the biggest picture of things it is. I have to say no to running, in order to say yes to life.
God needs you to say no to that thing in your life, that is keeping you from following the path God has designed for you.
#DyingtoSelf. Difficult. Painful. Sometimes recurring. But important. Because God has a joyful, abundant life planned for you and wants you to truly experience it.
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