I have feelings about this word. I was thinking about it today while driving through beautiful and scenic western Maryland. Almost everything I lay eyes on becomes beloved to me in some way. But who calls me beloved?
For the past couple years I’ve been on a quest to find out what on this earth makes me feel fulfilled. What can I do, where can I go, that makes me feel the best kind of emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. I haven’t quite found the pot of gold yet but I know for certain one thing that fills the gap is long distance running.
I never wrote a Philly Marathon race report, partially because I was busy, partially because I was lazy, and lastly because the last three miles of 26 shifted my perspective in a big way and I didn’t quite want to share it yet.
It’s not a secret really: do what you do because you’re motivated to do it, and the only person stopping you is you. Thats it. But it’s something I’ve been battling within my soul.
Once I gave myself permission to break through the confines of pain, exhaustion, and basically any physical barrier, my mind was free to control my body instead of the other way around.
I no longer felt dread or like I was slogging my unwilling body through the mud step by step. Instead, I felt like I was truly free and fulfilled for the first time in probably 2 or 3 years.
The high lasted for little more than 12 hours. When I came down, I came down hard but I knew what to expect. My first question was how to feel like this not just again, but always. I think I might spend the rest of my life trying to figure that out.
Passages from the Common Lectionary :
Psalm 103, Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Isaiah 58:1-12, 2 Cor. 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
My yearly journey of reflection through Lent continues for the third year in a row. I think last year I fell off the wagon.. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. Faith has proved to be a hard road to travel in recent years.
Lent will always and forever be an even more somber time than it usually is. Two years ago I was in the middle of Lent when my grandmother died. I really learned what ‘from dust you were created; to dust you shall return. Conversely, I also saw through new eyes what it meant to be resurrected in Jesus. My grandmother’s faith became more real to me in her death.
Today’s word is spirit. Tonight I’m thinking about what is said in yoga, that our spirit is our breath and vice versa. I like that thought, especially when we talk about death. When the breath is gone, so is the spirit. There cannot be spirit without breath. God created man and breathed into him, and so man was incomplete and unalive until that moment.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Matthew 6:21
I love this verse. It’s such a simple but poignant reminder about the effects of our priorities in life.
It’s no secret that Aaron and I are huge Dave Ramsey fans. I listen to the podcast on my commute back and forth to work everyday, and Dave references this verse quite a bit. He also takes it a bit farther to say that for married couples, financial decisions are also decisions about your values and dreams.
Money has been quite a controversial topic, not only in our capitalistic society, but also in church. It’s a huge deal. I’ve heard it said that Jesus mentions money almost more than he mentions anything else in the Gospels.
We are stewards of what God has given us, whether that’s much or little, the earth or our bodies, many jobs or one job. How we approach stewardship of these things is a direct reflection in our values, and what is in our hearts.
This is a word that I still ponder. Not that I ponder the meaning; I ponder the solution. Many people wring their hands and say how can a supposedly good and just God let injustice run rampant in the world? I don’t know. I usually come back to the idea that humans have free will, and God does not interfere with it. Therefore, humans do things that are wrong, things that cause injustice.
Can all my rights fix their wrongs? Probably not in this life. But how can I lessen the effect of injustice in the world?
Great question, and it’s one that I’m still trying to answer.
We discussed something very basic in our church’s Lenten Bible study the other night – the fact that one of the things that made Jesus’ walk on earth so incredible is that he respected everyone and cast no one aside.
I could not pour enough money into trying to fix world hunger, or all of my efforts to equip all students with necessary supplies, but if I have not love, what good are my efforts? What injustice does it really undo or assuage?
I think the biggest impact I can have on the world’s injustice is loving everyone and excluding no one.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
I Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB
Last year for Lent I wrote a little bit everyday about a given topic and related it to my walk with Christ. Instead of spending time on social media, I spent time writing, praying, and reflecting. I will take time this year as well to write about a topic a day. I found the practice to be healing and introspective. Over the next few weeks, I hope to stay true to the spirit of freewriting by not editing or revising much.
MARCH 1: HEAL
Twenty sixteen was a year of grief. I hope 2017 will be a year of healing.
What grief do I need healing from? First of all, the grief of the intangible: infertility. I’m still wrestling with the reality that infertility unfortunately brings upon its sufferers. And I don’t think suffer is too strong of a word. Second of all, I need healing for the loss of loved ones – most recently my grandmother, almost a year ago now. Her death was sudden and heartbreaking, and I went through many weeks of reading and pondering all I could about grief, death, what our bodies actually go through when they die, and the hope we have in an afterlife.
A good portion of my healing so far has occurred through a practice of introspection and disconnection from things that bring me, well, grief. To put it plainly, I’ve deleted my Facebook once and for all. I’ve taken many steps back from social media in order to quit the comparison game. I’ve given myself permission to take back my time and head space. It’s been quite revolutionary.
Another portion of my healing, surprisingly, has been working with children. Exposure therapy, if you will. In August I was hired to teach elementary ESOL. I had never taught elementary in my life. I’d been an paraprofessional in first grade, but really had no idea about the #elementarylife. Funny enough, my office is situated in the hallway with the youngest children in our school – pre-K and preschool. Some days this has been rough, to see their adorable selves carrying their huge backpacks, thinking about if we had had a child when we started trying, he or she would be getting to that age. However, overall it’s been a wonderful experience. I never lack hugs or smiles…. but maybe I lack patience at times. 😉
And finally a third portion of my healing has been my yoga practice. I never thought I’d become a ‘yogini’, but I found a local yoga studio that’s just fantastic. I’ve been going about 3 times per week for about a month. The strength I’ve built is surprising… I keep joking that one day I’ll be able to do a legit pushup. Seriously, I’ve begun to love my body again instead of feeling so betrayed.
Running is always a part of healing for me… it’s also a part of celebration, of determination, of courage. It keeps me centered and gives me time to meditate and pray and appreciate the world around me. And for all these things I’m grateful.