I’m a little bit psycho…a little bit you don’t know what you’re made of until you’ve tasted your own guts, until you’ve helplessly felt all will and mental control being ripped away by your body’s physical instinct to survive. When I first started running, I didn’t know my limits and it took a while to get a grasp on knowing when to push and when to quit.
My first experience with this was when I got a stomach ulcer from running too far without food or water. I didn’t know why the pain was so awful, but I had four miles left and no other option but to keep going – I don’t know how I made it home. One time I went out in a heat wave, and somehow drank more water out of my Camelbak than I put in. Once, I tried to quit a run early, feeling that if I pushed to the end I wouldn’t be okay. But it turned out, I wasn’t okay anyway and Kyle had to come pick me up from the roadside. I spent the evening vomiting Pepto Bismol and listening to him say, “If you throw up one more time, I’m taking you to the ER…” Another time, I finished my run 1/2 mile from home. I stopped to walk, but I couldn’t and I realized I only had a short window of time to get water before it would be too late to avoid an IV. I didn’t have time to call Kyle and wait for him to come get me. I stuck out my thumb and all I remember is an old beat up mustang and a guy with a backwards baseball cap. He drove me the short distance back to my apartment where I again, spent the evening vomiting.
I’ve run myself into the ground far too many times, more than I care to admit. They aren’t circumstances that I’ve tried to get myself into or that I’m proud of. In fact, all of them were pretty stupid/dangerous. But when I find myself that desperate, it humbles me in a way that could only be described as knowing I am not enough.
Distance running is undeniably a spiritual experience – whether you are an atheist, believe in God, cling to a religion, or claim to be label-less. Mind, body, and soul we go out and inevitably separate and re-join the three when we push our limits, giving us a whole new understanding of ourselves.
So often in the running community do I see and hear people talking about “faith” and “trusting God.” After a success story they “thank God” and begin to preach the prosperity gospel – that if we have faith in God, He will give us what we want. Bible verses like Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” are thrown around as inspiration. Honestly, I have a hard time cutting through all of it. It makes me hesitant to speak up about my beliefs because I don’t want to be thrown into the middle of that. The link below explains what I think on the matter pretty well.
I believe running is a gift and I’m thankful for the ability and opportunity to pursue it competitively. But as a Christian, I am not promised worldly success. It’s not about me. My life is a tiny part of a bigger picture that I can’t see. I believe the Bible is God’s Word and that it’s true, but no where in there does it say we will have health and wealth if we follow Him – actually quite the opposite.
The other side of the prosperity gospel is that YOU are the one doing good works and helping (saving) yourself. But the Bible says our “good” works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and there is no one righteous, not one (Romans 3:10). We are incapable of being enough.
It’s a hard sell, right? No guarantee of earthly success and you can never measure up to be good enough. Well it’s not a selling point. There’s nothing to sell, because you can’t buy it. God’s grace is a gift that only requires acceptance. Our “good works” are only out of response to a changed heart.