I haven’t been very consistent with my running this year. My treadmill is on the fritz and running in 100 degree weather isn’t my idea of fun. The result of that is that my distance has gone down and my weight has gone up. The margaritas and chips all summer, my appreciation for red wine and the candy bars after Halloween probably have more to do with the weight than not running 6 miles every other day, but I do miss it. So do my moods. They’re getting tired from the unusual swinging that they’ve been doing without my daily dose of endorphins. CrossFit has prevented my moods from totally cratering and the extra few pounds from being something anyone but me and my husband would notice but I haven’t been consistent with it either.
I’m very aware of all of this, so, as I set out on a 6.5 mile run a few weeks ago, I knew it was gonna be tough. Somewhere along the way I realized that I ran 6 miles without stopping a year or so ago and now I had to walk a bit every couple of miles. I’m not great at math but I was able to figure out that for every 5 pounds I’d gained I had lost 2 miles and my time was about a minute slower for those 2 miles. I know none of this is that big of a deal but my oversharing does have a point.
Whether it was exhaustion or God, I had my own little revelation at about mile 5. I’m a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife so I can make a spiritual point out of just about anything but this one seemed to actually stick in my brain for a few weeks. I’ve been noticing how willing I am to carry burdens that I can do nothing about. Not only am I willing – I almost feel as though by carrying them, my suffering will cause God to take notice and act on my behalf.
What little faith I must have in God’s concern for me and His ability to hear my prayers.
I know better, but it’s so easy to pick up a burden and hang on to it. Often, I don’t even know I’m doing it until I’m exhausted and worn out and I have the presence of mind to look back and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve been worrying over this or that, carrying such and such’s problems and fooling myself into thinking that all of the extra weight wouldn’t hurt me.” You know….”Oh yeah, those margaritas and chips, wine-down Wednesdays and almond joys are making this run harder than it has to be.” And that’s how life has felt lately.
There are a few desires in my life that touch me to the point of staying awake at night weeping at the feet of my Savior. Burdens of friends that make me weak in the knees but that I refuse to let go of because it might say to God that I don’t care enough. Worries that I think about over and over during the day as I beg Him over and over to move. Boxes and suitcases and purses full of things that I carry, because I’m afraid to lay them down.
Afraid God won’t pick them up? Afraid that He won’t move? Afraid that people will refuse Him? Afraid that I’m asking for the wrong things? Afraid that my heart can’t handle His answer?
I don’t know why, but the burden is slowing me down.
I can see the problem, I know how it’s affecting me and I’ve walked with God long enough to know how to fix it.
But will I?
Have I gotten so comfortable being okay that I don’t care about being great? Have I grown more attached to the burdens than I was to the freedom that a lighter load brought?
I hope not.
God’s proven over and over that He cares about my heart and that He loves people more than I do, so walking by faith simply means that when I do pick up a heavy weight… I put it right back down. Over and over. For as long as it takes.
Losing even a little bit of extra weight can make a huge difference in my ability to run effectively but it also makes a huge difference in how I feel as I run.
On this difficult run I noticed that my thoughts were consistently on how hard it was and on how long I could make it before taking another break. Previously, my thoughts would be on the world around me. On the birds, the clouds, praying for people, listening to music…Just enjoying the journey. And so it is with faith.
Faith isn’t meant to be a burden. It’s meant to free us. Jesus asks us to let Him carry our burdens so that we can know joy and hope in this life. He knows that life can be difficult and He knows what needs and hurts we have but He wants us to trust Him to carry us through and to work in those situations. He wants us to lay them down so that we‘re unhindered when He calls. Quick to move and able to go the distance. And He wants us to find purpose and joy in a life of following Him.
I’m grateful that He offers to carry my burdens and that He’s patient when I choose to pick them back up again. I’m grateful that He cares about what hurts my heart. I’m grateful that He promises to finish what He’s started in all of His children. And I’m grateful that He allows me to run this race for Him.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.