Challenge Day 18

Today’s Inspiration. When you’re an endurance runner, it’s likely that somewhere along the way you’ll experience injury. Injuries can occur for any number of reasons, but there were two in particular that took me out of the running the first year I attempted to train for a marathon, mere weeks before the race: misaligned hips and poor form. For me, the problems manifested in severe pain in my left knee. I limped back to my car after completing only 9 miles of the 20-mile training run and my knee protested any further attempts to run for the next several weeks. My hips and my form had defeated me.

But here’s the thing. I love to run. And when I couldn’t run, when my body wouldn’t let me, I hated it. So I sought out ways to keep going. It turns out that what I needed, besides time to heal, was correction. I needed to be corrected.

The Greek root for the word correction used in 2 Timothy 3:16 means “a straightening up again, i.e. rectification” (that’s from Bible Hub).

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)

I needed to be straightened up again. But I didn’t figure this out on my own.

A few weeks after my injury, I started a months-long process of physical therapy at a place that specialized in working with athletes. It was there that I learned my hips weren’t aligned—something correctable, but I needed others—experts trained in knowing what to do—to help me. These experts, the physical therapists, worked with my muscles, pulling them back into alignment through massage; they taught me how to recognize the misalignment by assessing my posture; and they taught me how to exercise in ways that would minimize and correct the error. My job was to show up—to endure the corrective (often painful) massages, and to practice the exercises they taught me, both in their presence where they could watch and correct me and at home.

And then, another year later, I went back: this time I underwent correction to prevent injury, not to heal from it. I went for a running coach who worked with current and former physical therapy patients. He focused on runners’ form, and this was just what I needed. As a heel striker who tended to roll to the outer edges of my feet when I tired, I had been inflicting injury upon myself. But by working to correct my form with a coach, I learned how to run properly and how to recognize when my muscles tired and my form started slipping. And I was able to train for, run, and complete a marathon.

The author of Hebrews likens the Christian life to training and running a race (Hebrews 12), and just like a runner, there will be times in our lives when we will need correction. Paul says the Bible—all Scripture—is useful for that. For correcting ourselves, for correcting others, for letting others help correct us (this last one has a lot to do with rebuking and teaching, too).

Beige owl salt/pepper shaker sitting next to a red and orange owl mug on a bookshelf. Photo text: Challenge Day 18, Bible-corrected. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Today your challenge is to pray and ask God to show you if there is anything in your life that needs correcting—and then to listen. Listen to what the Lord has to tell you, and seek out answers—correction—from the Bible in any area he puts on your heart. If you need to, seek out a friend or mentor who can help you in that area, who can work with you to correct the error.

Today’s Participation. Think back to a time you’ve needed to be corrected: Perhaps you always thought the lyrics to a song were different than they actually are, or perhaps you attempted to put together IKEA furniture without following the instructions and ended up with extra pieces. Can you relate this to needing correction in your walk with God? Start a conversation about the concept with a friend using that example, come up with a fun way to depict the need for correction and post it online using #writinglifeaugustchallenge (friend/follow me @rhondalorraineblog if you want me to see it), or simply tell a story about it in the comments below.

Running Races, Running Buddies

In October 2017, I finished a marathon. I won’t say I ran a marathon, because the truth is that I spent much of my time walking, not running, and slowly at that. “Don’t sell yourself short,” you may say. “You’re exaggerating. You finished! It couldn’t have been that bad.” Yes, I finished, but it was a marathon with thousands of runners and I finished last. Dead. Last.

Officially, I was 3,137th of 3,137. My time was 7:48.47, with an average pace of 17:53.

Receiving my medal after walking under the collapsed finish line.

I still have mixed feelings about that race. After all, I put hours and hours and miles and miles into training for it. I enjoyed the process, and I enjoy running, even if I am much slower than every other runner I know. When I am in training, I can even get to a decent, consistent pace, around ten-minute miles. And I did finish. There were two extenuating circumstances, in particular, on race day that made it difficult to finish: wind gusts up to 40mph (the finish line blew over minutes before I arrived!) and aching, painful shoulders from a new bra (chafing led to the purchase. Enough said). But I also can’t help but be disappointed with my performance and embarrassed to admit how I placed.

I think what I’m most disappointed about is that, besides a handful of times, I haven’t been out running since. And I miss it.

People who do not enjoy running are always mystified to hear that others do enjoy it. I used to be one of those people. I first started ten-ish years ago to lose weight (why else), and continued because I loved the physical and mental challenges and rewards. A few years later I joined a running group through my church began to love the social aspect of running. Runners are a special group of people, encouraging and supportive and friendly and running can be a social activity even for someone like me who runs most often by herself. Er, ran.

In fact, if it weren’t for other runners and my runner friends, it would have been much harder for me to finish the marathon that day. People along the way encouraged each other. One friend from my church group (an ultra-marathoner) finished his half, ate a meal, met up with me, and walked the rest of the way to the finish line with me.

Even in life—non-running life—my runner friends are there walking alongside me. One asks me monthly if I’m running again and encourages me whether I am or not. His wife has taken me on as her “daughter” and always calls me “my girl.” These people are dear to me, and they are people I never would have known if it hadn’t been for running. It’s nice to know I have friends who will encourage and run beside me, not only in physical races, but also in the spiritual one we’ve all signed up to run together.

Last week, when I posted Not Enough, I had stumbled and grown discouraged. But many readers—fellow “runners”—came alongside me and encouraged me. I am so thankful and blessed to have each of you to run alongside with in life. I only hope and pray I can encourage you to get back up and keep going if the need arises. Let’s run together.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3, NIV)

As for running in the physical sense? I can’t just end this post without challenging myself to take it up again. I don’t know why I do this to myself when snow is inches deep on the ground, the temperature outside is below zero, and the wind chill is lower than that, but do it I will. For now, my challenge to myself—my goal for the year—will remain undecided, but I will undertake a mini-goal of getting on the dreadmill for at least three runs before I post next week. And if any readers would like to be my virtual running buddies, I could always use more running friends. Runners are some of the best people I know.