Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Asking.... and receiving

This post is gonna be deep.  Journals are supposed to be, right?  I believe that sometimes God talks to you subtly, you know, like sends you little messages that you kinda might think are signs from God, but you could also interpret as coincidence, luck, karma, fate, whatever.  And sometimes God hits you over the head with a mallet as if to say, "I am speaking to you and you need to listen."  I firmly believe the most recent turn of events with my calf issues are the latter... a loud and clear message being sent.  I am a deeply spiritual person, but am also rather private when it comes to my spirituality.  I'll frequently engage in conversations with others about our various beliefs and interpretations of religious law (kind of fun to hear how different we all interpret the same religion), and I certainly have no problem revealing that I know God is ever present in our lives and plays the biggest role in who we are and what our life journey should be about.  But when it comes to revealing my private "run-ins" with God or copying and pasting my belief in Christ as my status update on Facebook when requested, well, I'm not that person.

However, there is something I would really like to share.

In my post last week (Thursday), I revealed that I had indeed started running again and that after my run on Wednesday, I was feeling a little bit of tightness.  The ever familiar feeling that was continuously leading me to bigger problems was back.  As I said I would do, I waited until Saturday to run again and all was well.  I was truly skeptical as I headed out.  Just KNOWING what might happen.  But it didn't.  I ran again Monday.  Then Tuesday.  And I ran this morning.  I have logged 14 miles in three days (6, 4 and 4).  I am feeling not an inkling of lingering injury.  How can this be?  I haven't been able to do this kind of running since before the Columbus Marathon.  Last Wednesday I thought I might be headed back to the injured list.

After a particularly frustrating day last Thursday, I found myself sitting quietly (in this house that alone is an act of God with these continuos stupid snow days!).  My calf felt fine and I was toying with the idea of a run Friday morning even though I had some signs to wait another day on Wed.  I sat there alone and began to pray.  But my prayer was a selfish one.  It went something like this.... "Ok, God.  I give up.  I am at the end of my rope.  I'm out of patience.  I'm frustrated.  I want to run some races and I want to do some long runs.  You know, the kind that challenge my body and clear my head.  The kind that make me more tolerant, patient and calm.  I am begging you to speed the healing of my injury.  I am sick to death of the setbacks.  I am sick to death of trying to find the ever hidden lessons of the beauty of injury.  This sucks and I want to be completely and totally free to run as many miles as I want.  Please make this happen.  I don't mean to be ungrateful for the fact that I've been able to do so many other things in place of running but it isn't the same and I just can't take it anymore.  Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it.  Anything."  As I sat there, I knew my request was a long shot and laughable.  God doesn't respond to the requests of his children who are acting like spoiled brats.  I knew that.  I guess it just made me feel better at that moment.

Saturday's run went well and I expected it to because I went out easy and had taken an additional day off. At mass on Sunday, our deacon, Don Meyer, stood at the pulpit at the end of mass to talk to the congregation about the need for volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul society.  He spoke of the great need of the poor in our community.  The need for volunteers to answer phones, coordinate drop offs and visit and listen to the needs of the people who have sought help there.  I listened, figured I'd get the info from the bulletin, consider it and then if I had time (yeah, right), offer my help.  Once I left mass, I put it out of my mind.

As I set out on Monday morning for my run listening to music and trotting along, I suddenly began to think about deacon Meyer's request at mass the day before.  I don't know why it hit me then, but it did (I find a lot of humor in the fact that EMINEM can be screaming in my ear and I am thinking of church)  I began to think that perhaps this was something I should really consider doing.  I am forever acknowledging that I have so many blessings in which to be thankful and so many people out there do not.  I believe firmly (and have had conversations with friends) that as human beings, we have a responsibility to care for one another and help each other if we are able.  I often recall a homily I once heard with the words "From those with much, much is required."  And by much, I don't necessarily mean wealth or power.  It could mean anything... kindness or friendship or going out of your way to help someone even when you don't want to.   My friend Kim has said "You never know if that is Jesus standing there asking for help."  And to that my reply is "You are right.  You don't know.  But even if it's not Jesus, you should help anyway."

I got home, happily realized that after being lost in thought, my leg felt fine.  Again, I put the thought of St. Vincent de Paul out of my head.  Tuesday I decided to run again.  I didn't want any of my friends to know I was running for fear I get criticized for going out "two days in a row."  I thought they were running at 5:00 am (now I re-read the e-mail and it's clearly says 5:30).  I chose to go out at 5:30 so that I would not see any of them.  My flat route takes me down some of the roads they run.  As I headed out the door, once again with my music, happily trotting along, the thought of deacon Meyer's request entered my head.  "Wow, this is weird", was my thought.  I vowed to get the bulletin and check out the information.   I continued to think about ways that I would be asked to help.  Could I go into someone's home who is in a desperate situation and console them?  What would I wear?  I mean, I don't want to appear overdressed, but I wouldn't want to insult someone by wearing tattered clothes either.  Before I knew it, a flashing light on the other side of the street appeared to be approaching.  The running gait was very familiar... "SHIT!"  It was Sarah.  Definitely not who I wanted to "run" in to.  I thought she was running at 5.  My thoughts turned to the e-mail I would be receiving about what the heck I was doing running down New Haven after running on Monday.  My excuses started piling up and ending finally with "I am 38 years old.  I am an adult.  You are not my mother and I can do what I want."  On the contrary, about an hour later I indeed received an e-mail from my friend that wasn't necessarily about running, but at the end included the sentence "It was nice seeing you cruising down New Haven this morning....."  It was a welcomed and wonderful surprise to read that.  And I did thank her for it.  Honestly she probably thinks "I give up.  This chic will never learn."

Today I went out again, and again, the thought of Sunday's request for help entered my mind.  Finally the lightbulb has gone on (I'm a slow learner).  It would be very easy to justify why I feel so good this week.... super powered jet in the hot tub that I let massage my calf daily.  No cross-training this week per recommendation by a friend.   But I am inclined to believe otherwise, even though my injury is so small in the world of things that could be wrong.  People pray to be healed of all kinds of horrible illnesses and disease and often times, their prayers are not answered in the way they would like them to be.  I made a selfish and desperate request in prayer.  I promised that I would do anything for the complete healing of my calf.  God uses people to do his work on earth.  During my comfortable, pain free runs this week I have had the same reoccurring thoughts of calling and volunteering for the St. Vincent de Paul society.  I'm going with the 'ol "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" mentality.  The other option is that I've worn God down and he is REALLY tired of hearing about me not being able to run..... quite likely.

My lesson for today (and I guess every day).... it's ok to ask.  Just be willing to also listen to what may be being asked of you.

Disclaimer.... this does NOT mean I am going to be carelessly hitting the track or doing long runs anytime soon.  It's just the biggest advancement so far.

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