My running has felt a little flat recently. I’ve been struggling to just feel decent on my runs let alone good. My legs feel heavy and stiff almost as if they are stuck. I can’t seem to get a good ryhthm with my breathing and I usually stop to walk after a mile. For some, this is just growing pains; the period of time where your body adjusts and adapts to the exercise. But for me, it seemed impossible that was the reason. I was at a loss and continued to push forward with early wake ups and hitting the streets for 3 or 4 miles, struggling the whole time. Nautrally, I was telling a friend how my running was terrible and she asked me:
Why are you still running?
Why not take a break?
And really they were great questions. Why didn’t I take a break? And the only answer I had was because I always feel better after a run. And it’s true. Even if the run is a struggle and I’m hating the process, I always feel good and accomplished after a run.
It was during this time that I listened to a podcast about how it’s okay to meet Jesus right where we are. In fact, He wants us to meet Him where we’re at. He doesn’t expect perfection, being spirtually alive, or even having clean hair. He just wants us to meet Him where we are. He wants us to encounter Him, not just go through the motions.
And it struck me, I’m meeting Jesus like this. Out there in the dark, alone in the silence, with a messy bun, running shoes, and all sweaty I’m meeting Jesus. I think that’s why I keep running. There’s something about encountering Jesus in the quiet of the mornings as I move my body. Sure I’m focused on my erratic breathing, my tight quads and my terrible pace, plus the humidity which isnt exactly the ideal thoughts for spending time with the Lord. But it does allow me to ponder. And until recently, I never realized that I do, in fact, ponder.
Although a Cradle Catholic, Mary has always seemed unrelatable to me. Her life as a faithful Jewish woman, wife, mother, cousin…well, for a perfectionist like me, has always seemed unattainable. Her spiritual life was marked with her noteably taking in struggles and challenges and pondering them. Her faith was unparalleled. I once read Mary described as a walking Tabernacle. I mean how can I become, let alone strive for that?! And I’ve also heard the night of Jesus’ birth referred to as the first Eucharistic Adoration…and of course Mary was present! And in some small way, running gives me time to ponder. To think, to process, and to encounter God. It gives me silence to pray, to ask for help, to have a spiritual commuinon with the Lord, so I, too, can become a walking (or running as the case may be) tabernacle. It centers my day on Him in adoration.
So I think that’s why I’ve woken up early and struggled through runs for months now; because running is my Holy Hour.
And even in the hard, I am better for it.
It’s my time to meet Jesus right where I am and draw nearer to Him.