Monday, August 8, 2011

On Running and Pain and Pushing Down Walls

I went running this morning. Well . . OK, I'll be more honest. I jogged for a little bit, and then walked some, and then kind of jogged a little more, and then walked quickly the rest of the way. Mainly, I tried to keep my heart rate up, which I did, so I deem the morning exercise effort a success.

Jim Ellis, Sunnybrook's until-quite-recently middle school pastor, is a serious runner. I mean, he runs miles at a time, he runs barefoot on occasion, he runs because he IS a Runner. It sounds wonderful to me. When I think about getting up early in the morning when it's cool and the sun's just peeking out, and taking off down the road toward Sergeant Bluff, soaking in the fresh air and sunshine, talking to God and writing in my head, working up a healthy sweat . . . really, it sounds downright glorious. Until I actually try it.

A friend in high school joined the cross country team one year for some strange reason she never successfully articulated to the rest of us. For the first three weeks, she hated it. Came back from every practice whining and complaining and cursing about how desperately she hated to run. Then one day, she told us, "You know that 'second wind' thing everyone talks about? It happened!! It's real!! It really works!!! I LOVE running!!!!!"

So, deep down, I think if I just pushed myself, I'd get that second wind and actually really love running in real life as much as I loved the idea of running in my imagination. But the truth is, I just don't want it badly enough.

I'm not sure what I do want badly enough to push past that pain threshold. I'm trying to remember the last time I did push like that -- or even the last time I worked hard enough at something to hit a "pain threshold". I don't think I always recognize such walls clearly in my life endeavors. Sometimes it easy to dismiss them as a case of "God closing a door".

Five years ago, I auditioned for the Godspell production our church was doing. It was my first drama foray in several years, and my first actual full-length production probably since high school. When the singing part of the audition came up, they asked for a volunteer to go first and I did. But the minute I got up on the stage and the accompanist started my music and I saw everyone looking at me, I froze. My gut tied itself into a knot and I couldn't get any air. I haven't experienced much significant stagefright before in my life, but this was enough that I very seriously considered leaving the audition -- I just wasn't ready for this, I thought. But I pushed through and sang as best I could without any breath support . . . and I finished the audition . . . and came back for callbacks the next night . . . and performed in a Godspell production two months later that ended up being something of a turning point in my life.

So, I know the blessings of pushing past the pain threshold. I just need some direction here. Point me to the wall that God's preparing me to knock down.

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