Cooler weather in Houston is no small blessing. The simple pleasure of feeling a cold wind brush across your face and infiltrate an unzipped jacket can be rare this far south. I love watching a cold front approach with looming thin clouds followed by dry frigid air. Not too long ago, while running, I watched as the clouds flew past and gave way to a beautiful night. There are patches of road I run on where street lights remain vacant and the stars shine brilliantly. It is in those moments, I remember why I run in the first place.
This January, I hope to complete my third Marathon. I love running. Well, I used to love running. I am learning to love again. Somewhere in the journey, I became distracted. Any pursuit in life seems to bring with it some level of competition or ambition. With the ever expanding value of GPS technology, running a certain distance with accuracy became fairly simply. However, with the emphasis on distance, I also began to notice another statistic, time. Coupled together like good ice cream and Oreos, they concoct a tempting creation worth aspiring to. In short, I began to set goals and I wanted to achieve certain results.
Two weeks ago, I had my longest run of this training season thus far, 18 miles. Due to a set of circumstances largely out of my control, I failed to finish. That was hard. I failed to accomplish a goal and ended my run painfully aware of my mortality and fully exhausted. Far worse, I realized I really hadn’t enjoyed the run. Slowly, God began to open my heart to realize the bigger story of what He wanted to teach me. God cares about the end result, but no more than He cares about the process. In the midst of ambition and a desire for the end result, I stopped enjoying every stride of life. Learning to see God in the details has proven to be a challenging task. He is clearly visible but it requires me to stop and smell the proverbial roses. It seems those evasive roses hold more than a pleasant smell but a deeper mystery of contentment in life.
Over the past two weeks, I have begun taking pleasure again in every step, even the ones that are painful. In life, as with running, I am learning to enjoy every step, even the ones that are painful. While the end result is good and goals are important, loving the day-to-day makes the results so much more fulfilling. I hope I learn this lesson well and model it for my little girls. Real life is living every stride and letting all of our senses respond to what God is showing us next.