The only lesson running has ever taught me

I’ve been running consistenly for almost six years now. But I still remember the first run — wondering if I could live through the one mile jog I had committed myself to — taking those initial lunges forward into a future I knew I wouldn’t like. Wrestling with the fact that there was cheese at home. “Why would anyone do this,” I asked myself as I awkwardly ran down the street.

I still feel that way. Six years later, I still look like a wounded penguin every time I hit the road. But there is something about the focus that you’re forced into. There’s something about the feeling you get when you’re unlacing your shoes and, even if you only did it for the carbs you’re going to shovel down your gullet later that day, you still did it. Whatever the reason, I keep coming back for more. Until earlier this year when it got too painful to continue.

The pain started with a little twindge in my back. A sharp pain that I only experienced when I ran. Normally I’m not one to complain — let alone go to the doctor for any sort of uncomfort. But it kept getting worse. What started in my back moved to my left shoulder and then up to my neck. And let me tell you that neck pain is like no other kind of pain. Mostly because, despite the obvious physiology, you don’t realize that your neck is connected to EVERYTHING. Moving hurt.

Eventually, due to equal parts pain and the prodding of my wife, I decided to go see a chiropractor. I learned how jacked up your body can get after 35 years of a minimally strenuous life. One leg was like an inch short than the other, and there was something to do with my pelvis. “Breathe out and relax,” the chiropractor said, as he pushed and popped my body back into submission. But you know what? I felt better. Two follow up visits later, and the neck pain was gone — but there was still a nagging pain in my left shoulder. My chiropractor suggested that I visit a physical therapist.

Fast forward a few months and six physical therapy session later, and I’m more or less back to normal. But guys…I’m getting older. Make no mistake about that. Not only do I have to manage my calorie intake, I have to be careful about how I get out of bed. How. I. Get. Out. Of. Bed. Unbelieveable. And even though I’m not in pain daily like I used to be, every time I run there’s still a reminder in my left shoulder that running is from the Devil.

But here’s my point. The takeway from all those visits was that the reason for my pain was due to a problem with my posture. I was holding my head too far in front of my body, and that misalignment over the years, had caused major issues that I’m still struggling with. But a few months ago it hit me, like a rhema bomb from Heaven.

When your head gets too far ahead of your heart, your whole body suffers.

God intended our head to be aligned with our heart. He intended our intellect to be in lock step with our dreams and passions. Many times we talk about being wired for one of the other. But I think that, in our best moments, the two are fully surrendered and in line with the purposes of God in our lives. The pain comes when your head gets too far ahead of your heart — when your head starts telling you it’s not possible, that you’re not good enough.

I’ve been believing God for some big things lately, so the timing of this lesson isn’t all that surprising. Many times, when I get a dream in my heart, my head rushes ahead to tell me why it won’t work. Why I need to slow down and evaluate the risk. But that’s just the thing. Maybe dreams aren’t dreams? Maybe they’re glimpses into the plans that God has made avalaible to us. Maybe it’s not the risk or the reality of our situation that prevents dreams from being fulfilled? Maybe it’s us who get in the way? Maybe it’s an alignment issue?

I’d like to believe that the dreams in my heart are not subject to my head — to the rational, physical reality of what I see and feel around me. But rather, they are, like deja vu, the dreams that God had for me since the beginning of time that I am now seeing myself.

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