My dad is a wonderful storyteller. He’s always told stories and jokes, sometimes to make a point, other times to make us laugh. Usually, even the funny stories had a point to them, often very subtle ones that you didn’t stumble on until days later when the story crossed your mind again. I’m not a particularly good storyteller, especially verbally. I can’t seem to remember all the details of the story, and usually leave out something very important that makes the entire point. I don’t really remember a lot of Dad’s tales, but many of the punch lines (or points) have stayed with me throughout my life.
One of those stories Dad told me so long ago that I can’t even remember when, had such a punchline. I don’t remember the story. I know it was about my Grandma Bess (his mother), and involved a broom, a skillet, and a “booger” that turned out to be a cat or something, but other than that the details escape me. What I do remember, and what has served me well throughout my life was the point the story made. The point was, it’s important to always “face your boogers.” In other words, in this life, we’re going to have things that happen that frighten us or make us doubt. Those are the things we have to turn around and face, or they will overwhelm us and never allow us to move forward. Very often, those “boogers” turn out to be scared little kittens that run away from you when you face them. Other times, they are as bad as you feared, but facing them reminds you that you can overcome anything, if you have the proper foundation, and the appropriate faith.
This weekend I’ve faced a couple of my “boogers”. Yesterday, I ran the first 5k race that I’ve run in a very long time. I really don’t even remember the last one I ran. This was a “booger” for me because I’m often filled with doubt about my abilities. That covers a wide range of things, but particularly my ability to run, or race – especially short, fast races. For the most part, I’m content to be a back of the packer. Plodding along, enjoying the scenery, and stopping to take a picture or five along the way. But, life throws things at you that you don’t expect sometimes, and I’ve come to the realization that if I’m going to do this, I want to be the best that I can be at it. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever aspire to running greatness. But, like a running friend said yesterday, I want to be faster when I grow up. (He’s 57 & wicked fast already.) That resonated with me. I want to be faster. I want to be able to enjoy my runs still, but the need for speed is creeping in. So, I”m facing that fear, trying to overcome the doubt I have in my ability and moving forward.
This morning brought a new “booger”. And, this one is a completely new fear for me. If you know me, you know that I’m relatively fearless. I’ve never minded running alone (probably even when I should have), never been afraid to run in the dark, or on the road or a trail…if it was a new place to run, or even an old one that I particularly liked, I would head out to it, no fear or doubt, just anticipation. Gary’s recent accident made me a little too aware of how vulnerable we all are. I mean, really, we’re all just one stumble away from a broken bone. And, running in the pre-dawn hours along a roadway with a fair amount of traffic like our road has, for some reason had me spooked. I feel a lot less bullet proof than I used to. I’ve run our neighborhood thousands of times, but the thought of stepping out there has recently set my heart pounding when I consider it.
So, I’ve headed over to our local Rails to Trails, the Longleaf Trace, for all my runs lately. It’s a beautiful place to run, but it has a couple of drawbacks. One is that it is super flat. There are slight inclines, but no real hills. As much as I hate hills, I know they make be a better runner, so I try to sprinkle in a few hill workouts weekly. Another drawback is that it is about 20 minutes from my house. Not a terrible drive, but certainly not as convenient as out my back door and down the street. I typically do my long runs on the Trace when we’re in town, and do my shorter training runs here in the neighborhoods around my house during the week. This morning was a shorter run, and as I prepared to go, Gary asked me where I was going. I told him to the Trace & he gave me that confused dog look (you know, when they turn their heads sideways and wrinkle their noses). “Why?” I fumbled around a few seconds, looking for a good excuse, and really couldn’t come up with one. So, I put on my big girl panties and headed out the back door.
Something really neat happens to me when I face my fears. My senses open up and I see the world around me with fresh eyes. My ability to see God’s hand weaving patterns throughout my life, in and around events, shaping, molding, refining me, is intensified. This morning He gave me a true appreciation, not just for the gift of running, but for the beautiful vista He’s planted right outside my doorstep. My first treasure:
Painted sky over my lake
The show didn’t stop there:
Sunrise in Sunrise, Mississippi
And, as I returned from a solid, fear free run, one last treasure:
The slough at sunrise
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. Matthew 21:21
I’m trying, Lord.