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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spiritual Lessons From a Half-Marathon

Running the Cap-City Half Marathon taught me a few things about myself.  Sure, I probably knew most of these things before, but there’s something about the whole experience that brings these spiritual lessons to life. 

The First Step Is the Hardest

If you would have told me a year ago that I was going to run 13 miles, I would have said you're nuts!  Signing up, saying “yes” and taking that first step is over half the battle.  Isn’t this true in just about any area of life?   When I seek to grow or venture into new territory, I can always find excuses.  Not now.  Not here.  I’m too tired.  I’ll do it tomorrow.  Or maybe next year.

Often, I find myself using these same excuses with God.  Don’t you?

I Need a Goal

I need a goal to get me started – to help me take that first step.  A goal gets me motivated and focused.  As important, a goal gives me a deadline!  I don’t know about you, but I work better under pressure – when I know the finish line is within reach.  Otherwise, I tend to flounder and lose motivation.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve written down spiritual goals on an annual basis – I find when they’re specific (and time-driven) I’m less likely to get off track.

Short-cuts Don’t Work

There’s no magic formula.  Training is hard work.  Period.  There’s no multi-vitamin or energy drink that’s going to get you ready.  It’s practice, practice, and more practice.  And you need to follow the training plan.  (I found this out around mile 10 when I thought to myself, boy, I wish I wouldn’t have skipped those long runs!)

My spiritual life follows a similar pattern.  I keep asking God, “Can’t you just make this road easier?  Where is the short cut!”  But he continues to show me that the journey is part of my training.

I Need a Purpose

It’s not just about me.  I need a bigger purpose.  And, while I know others who run to “lose weight” I just can’t get motivated solely by pounds and inches.  I’m all for a healthy lifestyle (and, clearly, health and fitness played a huge role in my motivation), but running for orphans with team Doma gave me a purpose to cross the finish line.

My spiritual well runs dry when I become self-absorbed.  But the more I give to others – the less it’s about me – the more I’m driven to continue. 

No Pain No Gain

Talk about pain!  I was sore – I mean really sore – for a couple of days.  But I’d do it all over again.  Next time, I’ll probably take my training a bit more seriously, but I’ll also know to expect the pain and discomfort.  Nobody said it was going to be easy!

It’s often through pain and trials that we draw near to God.  Just this year, I’ve watched friends (and many of you) suffer much loss – a broken marriage, a bout with cancer, an unexpected death of a loved one.  It seems like this pain is part of our training.  But, yes, it still hurts!

Has physical training (and pain!) taught you anything about spiritual growth?  Can you relate to these lessons – purpose, practice and pain – in your own life?


Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

I'm with you -- I have to have a goal, a deadline.

I can't believe you really ran 13 miles, though. Oh, I believe YOU, but it's an incredible feat to me. Kudos to you!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

God uses pain often in my life to draw me close.

This is so cool that you ran for a cause.

I only walked 10 miles a few weeks back to stop sex trafficking, but running is different. I should know. I used to be addicted.

It's the best when you come out the other side of the pain with God, in a more trusting relationship.
~ Wendy

Charming's Mama said...

Very well said. We do seem to need a reminder sometimes of lessons learned. I'm not much of a goal setter but when I do I find I am more likely to follow through then not.

Thanks, Sydney.

Jen said...

First, I am so excited you wrote about this because I love running! Half-marathons are my favorite distance, too, I think. Congrats!

I think all the truths you pulled are lovely and really applicable. I, too, love deadlines and goals. In fact, reading the One Year Bible really helps me get into the Word everyday.

Laura said...

Woot! Let's just get this out of the way: You are awesome. I love to run, but am working my way back to a good discipline after taking some time off. You're right! It's hard work! And I am not even close to 13 miles. These are good lessons gleaned from a great accomplishment, Susan. Sounds like a fun playdate (after mile 13 maybe.).

Heidiopia said...

Ha ha, this was taking me back to October when I ran my half! One of the hardest things I've ever done, but I learned that I'm tougher than I think, and like you shortcuts don't cut it. God is so wise, is he not? Congrats!!

Ann Kroeker said...

Bravo! You ran the race and provided some insight, as well. Very nice. What's the next goal? :)

Amy Sullivan said...

First of all, I admire, and I am very jealous of your 13 miles. Totally impressed. Big time.

I competed the Danskin mini-Triatholon a few years back, and although I love to swim and bike, it taught me that I hate, hate, super hate running. However, I already knew that so I guess it just taught me not to do it again. Ha!

In additon, this line rocked.
"My spiritual well runs dry when I become self-absorbed. But the more I give to others – the less it’s about me – the more I’m driven to continue."

And I'm copying the link of this post down so I can remember it when I need a little inspiration.

Thanks, Susan.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

Super proud of you, Susan -- I was cheering you all the way (from Nebraska). And yes, running teaches me so much about discipline, both physical and spiritual. I've been slowly working myself back into running again these last couple of months -- it IS painful and so humbling. But good for the soul (and the butt).

mrsgleffter said...

YAYY Susan!!!! Congrats on your 1/2 marathon!! Running is definitely a spiritual time for me. Prayer, solitude, and time to relax and refocus. It also is all the things you said.

Glad you survived even if you skipped long runs :-) said...

Congratulations! Some great lessons here.

I jog about three miles every couple of days... and boy, is my age catching up to me. My knees are starting to hurt all the time! What's happening???!

Pain, discipline, goals, setbacks, running the race, panting and trying to cross a line... all part of our journey.

I hope your race inspires many to follow your example.

Susan DiMickele said...

So I just started running again this week, and I am still a little sore....

Deidra said...

Congratulations on running the half! I'm in awe of you! :)

My husband was away last Sunday, so I filled in for him and offered the sermon for the day. Your post is almost exactly what I said that morning! Amazing!

After the service, a guy came up to me and we chatted about the message, and about running in general. He said, "One thing you need is good shoes." I immediately thought of the verse where we're encouraged to have our "feet shod with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."