my search to understand the bigger picture

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Conversations

So, yesterday at church, I fell into a conversation with a woman I've known for many years. She's my sister-in-law's mother. So, we've seen each other at family functions, and then at church since we began attending The Vineyard. She was volunteering at a Holiday Outreach table during the second service, and I was walking around getting a count of all those sitting in the cafe and in classrooms. I saw her and made my way over to say hello. And then she asked me about running.

If you really want me to get into a conversation very quickly, ask me about two things: Jesus and running. If I remember correctly, she asked something close to how I stay motivated to run. From there I just took off. Later, I thought it might be a good idea to shed some light on the subject as to why I run for the few that read this blog. Some of this I've shared before, directly and indirectly, but never before together like this.

So, the question is, why do I run?

First and foremost, I answer with this video:

I began running in 2002 or 2003, can't really remember. I worked at Youth for Christ at the time and we began to run the Indy Mini Marathon as a fundraiser for the work we were doing with youth in our city. Then, I think it was in 2008 that I ran my first ultra marathon, for Team World Vision. It was the Chicago Lakefront 50k, and I ran that before ever having run a marathon. In 2010, I went on the trip of my dreams to South Africa with Team World Vision after my best friend Michael Chitwood asked me to run Comrades Marathon (89k which is 56 miles) with 17 others to raise up child sponsorships for children there. Bottom line is, I run to help others.

Another reason why I run, is because it's one of the few times throughout the day that my brain is completely free to shut down. I try as best I can to run in the morning when my wife and children are asleep. If not, I'll run at night after the girls are in bed. But, my cell phone is not ringing, no emails to respond to, no work needing to be done, no kids crying or fighting, no chores to focus on around the house, just the open road or trail to enjoy. It's beautiful.

Third, running gives me something tangible to be excited about. I've dealt with depression for a number of years now. For a few of those years, I even went on Prozac to try to help. It did take the edge off, but it wasn't until I began to allow God to heal me that I began to see some progress made. And, while much ground has been retaken in regards to depression, Satan attacks me with it almost every day. For me, I think it has tended to be more of a spiritual attack than a chemical imbalance. I definitely think for some people it's exactly that. But for others, it's something Satan tries to use to distract. And I've found in my life it's much more spiritual than anything else. Like I said, while much ground has been taken back, that doesn't stop Satan from attacking. I believe God has given me running as something to focus on when nothing else seems worth celebrating. I believe He's given it to me as a gift to help pull me out of those times where all seems hopeless and lost.

Fourth, quite simply, running has changed my life. Literally. When I began running, I weighed upwards of 280 pounds, and had to start out by walking 1 mile every day. I had asthma. And I worked my way up from that, to becoming an ultra marathoner. I'm still a little on the heavy side, regularly tipping the scales between 2oo and 205, but the asthma is in a much more managed state, and my health is so much better. In addition, I'm not much of a risk taker. But for some reason, when it's come to running, I've been able to take a lot of risks, and have found out so much about myself in the process. This in turn, has helped me to begin to take some more risks in life, and my life has been the better for it.

Finally, I've gotten to meet some amazing people that I never would have if I hadn't begun running. I've met tons of amazing people around the world because of running, from well-known professional athletes like Josh Cox, to celebrities such as Andy Baldwin, to running icons such as Bart Yasso, to everyday people that inspire the mess out of me like Paul Martin, Rusty Funk, Paul Jansen Van Rensburg, Scott Olthoff, and people I've met through social media like David Murphy. A whole world of people has been opened up to me because of running, and for an introvert such as myself, that's been an invaluable resource. I've learned so much from other runner about a variety of things.

So, while something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other seems, it really has blessed my life in a very complex combination of ways. If I could leave you with one final thought, it would be this: make the world a better place. Use running to do just that. Whether you are a Christian or not, World Vision is one of THE most respected humanitarian organizations in the world. I've seen their work firsthand, and it is amazing. One way to change the life of a child, family, village, country, etc. is through sponsoring a child. For $35/month (probably what you might spend on coffee every month, or eating out every week) you can literally do just that. For more information, go to Want to be inspired? Check out this video.....

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