by Bonnie McClure
I know exercise should not be used as penance. But for me, I do think of it as discipline. I know when I have neglected my runs I am also neglecting myself. When I grow bored of my trials I know I have moved to a place of entitlement rather than gratitude. Running reminds me. It reveals right away my condition. No pair of shoes or impressive PR can hide the fact if I've quit running when I start again. During a quarantine it becomes even more imperative that I pound out the pent up energy and the anxious thoughts that wind themselves like binds around my body.
I started running years ago because I quit smoking. I had to replace the negative habit with a positive outlet and I read that if you start early enough, you can repair the damage you've done. So in this way, it did become my penance. Not as punishment, though it may have felt that way sometimes. But a feeble attempt to earn back the days and health I had carelessly squandered in my youth. I am quite aware of the mistakes I've made in my life but God, in His grace, gives me a chance to do better every morning I open my eyes.
So every mile, every breath, every hill, and every summit, is a closer step to the life I want to live. This afternoon I had let my mind wander deep in fear. Fear of what might happen to any one of my loved ones, how we might face tragedy any day. Which truthfully, is always possible, but this quarantine certainly highlights the proximity of it. I found myself clinging mentally and emotionally to my loved ones.
But on my run today, my GPS failed and I couldn't track my time or distance. So I set out to run a random route to completion, without measure, just for pure gratitude that I am free and able to do so in this moment. It reminded me of how I don't have have any control over any of this, anyway. And as I ran I thought back to major losses I have already experienced in my life. And remembered the way God helped me get out of bed every morning, face the pains that I had to, and little by little, He renewed my life. Not only that, He went above and beyond and put me in charge of these two amazing, little miracles. Where I saw only death, He made life.
I closed my run by the creek and prayed the Wesleyan prayer again, which I had already forgotten about because I am so human. In summary, it is a prayer of confessing complete control of God and removing my possessive lens from what happens in my life. It returns me to the difficult but subservient role that I hold, instead of the master of my own existence I would often like to be. As I finished the last words of the prayer, "Let it be ratified in Heaven," the Bremen Methodist church bells rang at 4pm a beautiful tone and I praised God for His mercifulness and His second chance to run the race before me.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: