Sunday, March 23, 2014

#478: Reasons To Race

A friend recently advised me, "Write in the morning, and revise in the evening." So tonight, I revisited and revised a post I put up earlier today. I don't take a lot of mulligans on FMR, but I'm making an exception in this case. I this comes closer to what I want to say... Pennsy

Lexington is getting a Marathon! I was so excited to learn about it that I registered on the first morning. Haven't run more than 2 miles in months, 40 pounds heavier than the last time I raced, and I just registered for a Marathon. The good news is, it isn't until May of 2015.

Fifteen months. That's a long time to prepare for a Saturday morning run. You need some good reasons to do something like that. Here are some of mine.

As 2013 came to an end,  I reflected on my own values, and how they should guide me, I decided that I had to start by practicing Strength. The Strength to take action. The Strength to respond. The Strength to do the things God is calling me to do. To serve. To help. To teach. To learn. To run. I took this very literally, focusing my workouts almost entirely on the weight room and building muscle and flexibility. My body felt weak, slow, tired, and fat. My spirit felt the same way. I let the squat rack and the dumbbell bench be a metaphor... every rep was another ounce of potential realized.... every stretch was another inch of increased readiness and flexibility. And as my body begins to change, I feel my spirit changing, too.
After strength, comes Courage: doing what's right. It means living with honor and personal integrity. Being the man I want to be... the man I say I am. It means accepting that I'm not in control, and that I don't need to be. As I reflect on my life's greatest stumbles, I think a failure of personal courage may be the common denominator. Why? Lots of reason, probably. But the one that comes to mind right now is that I've never really known or believed in my own strength. There's always been a voice, I call him my "Toxic Passenger" in the back of the bus, heckling me. "You're going the wrong way." "You're going to come up short." "They're going to laugh at you." "She's going to dump you when she figures out who you really are." He's always been there. Probably always will be. But what's changing is that I don't take his word to be gospel so much anymore. He tells me I'm weak and that I never follow though. Time was, I would just nod sadly in agreement with him. But now, when I hear him grumbling, I remind myself of all the deadlifts. I remember the miles. I touch the finisher's medal from the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I just smile. I'm stronger than the Toxic Passenger thinks I am. I've proved it. And I didn't do that by being the fastest or the smartest or the best. I did it by lifting one weight at a time. Taking one stride at a time. Running a race I could be proud of, and letting the results take care of themselves.
If strength is the bow and courage is the arrow, then Compassion is the bulls eye. Study alone? Yes. Run by yourself? Certainly. Pound out one more set in the weight room after everyone else has hit the shower? Every time. But do it because someday, someone is going to need that strength and courage. Somebody will have to be ready to run for help. To push the car out of the ditch. To go "the extra mile," whatever that mile turns out to be. To serve with compassion. When I read the story of Jesus,compassion is the defining quality I see in his character. Here was a man of unlimited strength and courage, whose every move was guided by the joy and the suffering that he shared with each person he met. The Incarnation is the story of a God who walked among us and shared not only our lives, but our hearts... our passions. The Creator became a creation and chose not to rule, but to serve. My most gratifying races were the ones I ran with a purpose that was bigger than myself. To honor The Five. To support Actors' Guild. To raise money for LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. I am still settling on how I will use this race to serve, but rest assured, I have no intention of doing this one alone.You don't run fifteen months just so you can get the tee-shirt.
And then, there is Joy. You don't make joy. You don't earn it. You can't coax it along. You can't force it. You can't expect it, plan for it, demand it, and you sure as hell can't guarantee it. Joy is rare, like a perfect, spring afternoon. You don't create it. You receive it. Joy is Grace. It is God's gift to you, not because you deserve it, but because every now and then, the universe peeps open and gives you a glimpse of the heart of God and for that moment, you bear witness to the Image in which you were made. Joy isn't payday. Joy is... everyday. All in an instant.. And somewhere along the road, I know there will be times to smile, to weep, and to laugh out loud for no other reason than the joyful knowledge that a life lived with strength, courage and compassion is a life that pleases God... and the gift of Joy is God's testimony to that pleasure.
You know what? 2014 is gonna be a great year for a run.



  1. I think we all have those toxic passengers....I like to kick my passenger in the butt most days. Great out look and goals. You got this.


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