Why I HATE Running (and do it anyway)


I’ve always hated running. The mile run in gym class was my personal nemesis each and every year. I dreaded it so much. I can still hear my PE teacher, Mr. Reimers, shouting “I can crawl a mile in 15 minutes so you all better finish faster than that!” I always made it, but not by much! So no one was more surprised than me when I took up running four years ago. I still hate running, and I don’t think that will ever change. I do it anyway, and here’s why.

1. I’m an ugly runner. It’s truly painful to watch. (Don’t believe me? Check out the pics in Running with Jesus.) But God’s creation is beautiful. I don’t even listen to music while running anymore. Instead I pay attention to the smell of lilacs in full bloom, the trees swaying in the breeze, and the stars, which have always been one of my favorite things in all of God’s creation!

2. I hate how I feel during a run, but I love how I feel after a run. Truthfully, I feel like I might die during a run. My lungs burn, my legs feel like dead weights, and my joints ache with every pounding step. But I love the adrenaline rush when it is all over! I feel stronger. I feel calmer. Somehow stress seems to melt away during a run and after there’s a new sense of clarity.

3. I hate that I’m not good at it, but I love that I’m getting better. Running is so concrete and measurable. I can see the improvement as I run longer and improve my pace. There’s a new “PR” possible with every time out.

4. I hate that I can’t compete with other runners, but I love the encouragement runners offer one another. It is a beautiful example of what Christian community is supposed to look like. Throughout his letters, Paul repeatedly urged followers of Jesus to encourage one another, build each other up, to be of one mind, and to live in peace. This is exemplified in the running community. No fellow runner, regardless of their skill level, has ever demeaned me for mine. Instead, I’ve received nothing but encouragement. I’ve even experienced more skilled, faster runners, coming back to cheer me on as I struggle to finish a race. I pray the Christian community learns to follow the lead of runners!

5. I hate how challenging running is for me, but I love taking on the challenge. Nothing is quite as satisfying as accomplishing something you weren’t quite sure you could do. One of my favorite quotes is from the movie “A League of Their Own.” The coach of the Rockford Peaches looks at his star player who has just quit the team because it “got too hard” and says, “It’s supposed to be hard. The ‘hard’ is what makes it great. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.” How true! There is little satisfaction in doing something that’s easy.

6. I hate that running forces me to realize just how out of shape I really am, but I love that running is helping me take better care of my body. God has given me an earthly body and asked that I take care of it. I’m going to be honest, I don’t do a good job of caring for my body. The worse the food is for you, the more likely it is to be one of my favorites! And I can easily spend an entire day (or week) just laying on the couch, watching countless hours of television. But caring for my body means eating foods that are good for me and moving to the point of sweating. Running encourages me to eat in a more healthy way and gets my behind off the couch. I want the energy and stamina to serve God for many years to come, which means I need to take good care of the body He has given me!


7. I hate running but I love the way it has improved my spiritual life. I connect with Jesus when I run. I has done wonders for my prayer life because I’m in need of Jesus’ strength the entire time! I connect with God in a wonderful, unique, and inexplicable way when I’m running. Perhaps it is because running is often used as a metaphor for the journey of following Jesus. Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah speak of God’s strength allowing those who trust in Him to run and not grow faint or weary. Paul urges Jesus followers to run with purpose and determination in 1 Corinthians. In Hebrews, running is used as a way to encourage Christians to persevere even when life is difficult. Since I’m not planning on buying a sheep farm anytime soon, running is one of the Biblical analogies I can participate in and experience first hand.


And that’s where the connection to identity comes into play. The more I experience my relationship with Jesus in real and tangible ways, the more I am able to understand that my identity is found in His love for me. The more I rely on Him to do things that are difficult and challenging, the more I experience that love in real and powerful ways. So I’ll likely always hate running, but I’ll keep doing it anyway because I’ll always love what it does for my life.


What I Learned on “Staycation”: Busyness Prevents Becoming Beloved

Last week I took a “staycation” – a week off of work to go nowhere and do nothing. And it was glorious. I slept in nearly every morning. I took walks in the middle of the day and stopped to chat with people I met with no need to rush home. I scheduled play dates for my puppy. I had leisurely, unhurried conversation with dear friends. I cooked. I cleaned. I read. I watched trashy day time television (ok, not proud of that, but it’s true).

Now, I must admit that as a child didn’t understand this concept. Nearly everyone I knew only took vacation when they were going somewhere, my family included. Vacation did not mean “not working;” it meant “travel somewhere new and different.” A guy I worked with at the local grocery store and the school custodian were the only people I knew who took time off of work without going anywhere. I thought it was weird. To those two men, I apologize! I get it! I needed a “staycation” because frankly I was just plain exhausted – too exhausted to do anything but just stay home. The pace of my life and lack of self-care had caught up with me.

Life moves so fast. Everyone is busy. But why? Why do I pack my life so full that the content runs off the edges, leaving no margin, no room for error, and no room for reflection? I have to admit that I like to be busy. It is a beautiful distraction from my own thoughts and easily allows me to deny various areas where growth and change are needed. It’s also a way to feel important and valuable, albeit not a very effective one. I so easily begin to define myself by what I do instead of who I am. This makes it so hard to say no and so hard to slow down and so hard to rest. But as I’ve said before, busyness is not a badge of honor. Busyness is another enemy of true identity in Christ. The loudness of my busy life easily drowns out God’s voice – a voice that I’m often too afraid to listen to, fearful of what it might say.


In my busyness, I so easily forget my true identity as God’s beloved daughter and need to find something to fill the void that is left by my forgetfulness. In the stillness and in the quiet I must face myself and my Maker. When I slow down, I must cope with the hurt and pain in my life – both caused by others and by my own sinfulness. But it is only in the stillness where I am able to hear God’s voice, claim my true identity, and receive His healing.


Psalm 46:10a says, “Be still and know that I am God.” And when Elijah was discouraged, God showed up in a whisper (1 Kings 19). And that voice I feared would meet me with condemnation and scorn? Well, instead it meets me with gentle grace and unfathomable forgiveness. Yes, it’s a voice that convicts and disciplines, but it does so with unending love and mercy. God’s voice is tender, patient, kind, slow to anger, and quick to comfort. The whisper of God’s voice is worth slowing down to hear for it speaks truth and breathes life into the empty void created by busyness. Only God can provide the value and worth I try to create on my own through constant doing. Only slowing down to listen to God’s whisper can provide the peace, security, contentment, and rest I so desperately crave.

Do you need a “staycation”? Is God calling you to slow down and listen for the whisper of His voice? What keeps you from slowing down and doing less?


Following Jesus isn’t Boring: Living life in a zoo or running wild and free?

Christians get a bad rap for being boring. Honestly I understand where it comes from. So often Christians are the ones saying no to all of the things that the world deems as fun. The focus ends up being on all of the things that Christians don’t do. They don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, and don’t watch certain films or listen to certain music. They don’t have sex or steal or party or whatever. Focus on the “don’ts”, on all of the religious stuff, and being a Christian probably does sound pretty boring. But focus on the “dos”, and being a follower of Jesus is the most exciting thing you’ll ever do.

Soren Kierkegaard actually believed that boredom is the root of all evil. I guess I can relate. Growing up in a small Midwestern farm town, high school kids seemed to get in the most trouble when they were bored. Kierkegaard argued that faith and boredom cannot coexist. He believed that if you are bored with life, then you are not living out the mission God has called you to live. Followers of Jesus are called to live by faith (define faith), which means we have to live with a certain amount of uncertainty. Following Jesus means that much of the time we may have no idea exactly where we are going. Faith may mean uncertainty but it also means adventure and it never means boredom! If your life is anything less than the greatest adventure you can imagine, then perhaps instead of following Jesus, you are actually living life expecting Jesus to follow you.


Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors. In his book, Wild Goose Chase, he asks two very intriguing questions. 1. Do churches do to people what zoos do to animals? 2. Do angels yawn? Batterson tells a story of taking a trip to the Galapagos Islands where he and his family explored and experienced wildlife in their natural habitat. He described it has exhilarating to enter into the animals’ world. Shortly after this trip, Batterson and his family went to their local zoo. Observing animals behind bars and glass was an entirely different experience altogether. There was no danger. There was no unknown. Viewing a lion in a cage is not the same as going on an African safari.


Does the church take people out of their natural environment and make them safe, tame, and caged even? As Christians, we often want to remove the risk, danger, and struggles of life. However, according to Batterson, Jesus didn’t die on a cross to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Dangerous weapons in a spiritual battle for people’s hearts, and our ammunition is faith, hope, and love.

Batterson’s second question is, “Do angels yawn?” th5RM1JJ15

Are we living such safe, boring lives that not only are we bored, but so are the angels? When we lack the faith to truly follow Jesus, wherever He dares to lead, we rob God of glory that belongs to Him. You have an adventure to live, but it requires stepping out in faith. It requires providing hope to the hopeless. It requires loving others with a supernatural love that is only possible because God loves us first.

So where do we find the courage to step out in faith, provide hope, and love deeply? It comes from the knowledge that I am God’s beloved child. The safety and security in knowing I am so loved by God that He calls me His own (and that nothing I do could ever change that fact) allows me the freedom and boldness to take great risks in life. Here’s the best part… when I’m following Jesus, it’s really not that risky at all! His love is sure and unending. His faithfulness is unwavering. He’s never failed and I do not believe He ever will. With that incredible assurance, how can we not eagerly go wherever called, no matter what the risk may seem to be? With God as our Father, how can following Him ever be boring? Get out of the zoo. The cage is already open. You just have to step out and run hard after Jesus. Live your life with fearless abandon and give your guardian angel something to do!