The day was bright and sunny and clear-skied. The temperature was a balmy 68 or 70 degrees, my brain can’t recall exactly. What I do remember on that early fall day was treating myself to a Starbuck’s Frappuccino in the morning and then attempting to achieve my usual 3-miles of running in the afternoon. What could happen, right?
Let’s just say I didn’t make it.
My stomach did not quite cooperate with my brain’s full intentions.
Was it the sugar or the dairy or the caffeine?
Was it too soon to run after such an attack on my digestive system?
I have not had a Frappuccino since that day.
But I am still a runner.
The running experts will tell you what to do to achieve the optimal run. They will provide gear information, training logs, and food recommendations. They will tell you what to wear, how to wear it, and when to wear it.
That is not what I am here to do. I am no expert. I can more just relay to you what not to do before a run, during a run, or after a run, simply from personal experience. Like this:
Don’t drink a Frappuccino from Starbuck’s.
Don’t eat chile rellenos as your pre-run snack.
Don’t run with a frozen pizza in your backpack in the middle of 90-degree summer heat.
Don’t look at your phone frequently when running solo on woodland trials.
Don’t run on a sprained ankle.
Yes, I have done all of those things. Oops.
I’ve also forgotten to carry enough water, suffered severe sunburn, slipped on icy sidewalks, been chased by neighborhood dogs, had chaffing in places where I didn’t know I had skin, and realized that fruit snacks do melt in a running belt when kept there long enough and during hot temperatures.
Being a runner is not about achieving perfection; it is about the effort. I wonder what else I have missed out on in the past in my quest for perfectionism. I wonder if I have been so afraid of failing that I have stopped short of trying. That is what connects me so much to being a runner. The sport doesn’t require perfection from me. It is simply asking me to lace up my shoes and get outside.
Being human means making mistakes, messing up, chasing failure. AND it means to keep trying when it is hard. It means to endure through the tough times. It means to find the good in the middle of the bad.
I’m going to fall down. I’m going to say the wrong thing. I’m going to offend someone. I’m going to hurt feelings. I’m going to blunder. The odds are in my favor that this will indeed happen.
So, what do I do? Stop living life? Halt connections? Cease friendships?
I don’t want to live life like this.
That’s why I’m choosing another way:
The way of not growing weary. The way of perseverance. The way of not letting the cares of life choke out my will. The way of pursuing peace in the middle of conflict. The way of laying down my rights and choosing love.
The point is to keep trying.
I wouldn’t still be running if I had let a chile relleno ruin my efforts. I wouldn’t still be running if I had let a fall on a lonely trail keep me in fear of running alone.
The point is: I keep running, and that makes me a runner.
If I let all my blunders stop me from living life as a follower of Jesus, well, it would just get boring from here. Not much of a story. Nothing intriguing here at all.
But if I keep trying to be more generous…after forgetting to give again and again…
Trying to listen to alternative viewpoints…after I’ve spouted off my narrow opinion…
Trying to help the poor and the outcast…after I’ve just complained again about financial troubles…
Trying to engage with my neighborhood and community…even after once again closing my garage door at night and closing off connection…
Trying to speak out against the injustices I see in this world…after time and again of walking in the other side of the street, ignoring the pain I’ve seen…
Trying to raise my child in love and harmony…even after I snapped in irritation to him again…
Trying to see beyond what divides people from each other and work for unity….even as once more I want to seek the security and comfort of the status quo…
Then, I know that whatever the outcome is, there will be a story here. Something to share. Something to inspire. Something to lean into.
It is the struggle that makes it worthwhile. The trying equals the achieving. The joy comes from the trial.
When Peter, later called the Apostle Peter, started following Jesus, he was a loud-mouthed sailor. Throughout the time he was with Christ, he made mistake after mistake. He called Jesus wrong. He almost drowned trying to walk on water. He tried to stop Jesus’ arrest in the garden and cut off the ear of one of the crowd there to arrest Christ. He denied knowing Jesus.
Yet, where do we find Peter after Jesus’ resurrection? After the mountain of errors, culminating in the great denial of the Savior? He’s preaching to thousands the Good News of the Gospel.
This tenacity is unprecedented. He would have made an impressive ultra-marathon runner. He just never stops trying.
“Stay light-footed, and keep moving,” said the poet Rumi.
The continual practice of moving through each experience in life as all part of the journey of following Jesus’ steps into abundant life is what continually compels me. The idea that the fullness of life is found in the loving of others as I love myself excites me. Recognition of His power in the everyday movements of humanity fills me with joy. When the sun rises each morning, I can awake with hope that this day will be filled with love and peace because of grace. I will keep trying my best to live in love amidst the stumbles, the falls, and outright sins.
Because if I don’t try, I’ll wake up one day and find that I haven’t lived at all.
And that is no way to treat the very gift of life.
Even with my mistakes and failures and faults, I’m moving forward.
Because of love. Because of grace. Because, Christ in me, the hope of glory.
If Peter, the-rascal-turned-preacher, could continue to spread good in the world, so can I.
It’s totally worth the effort. I’m staying relentless in hope.
Let’s keep trying, shall we?
And friends, please know, whatever mistakes you do make, I’ll save you making this one:
Don’t run after drinking a Frappuccino.
Your stomach will thank you.