People think about lots of different things while they run. Sometimes it's our breathing, a pain we notice creeping in, our surroundings, or things that are going well or weighing us down in our lives. Yet every so often, our thoughts stretch beyond these, and we leave the run feeling quite a bit different and refreshed.
Recently, I decided to try to record some of my more reflective thoughts over the course of a few solo runs. I was surprised to notice a theme. All of them related back to my recent bible study topic of God's love (Chapter 9 from God: As He Longs for You to See Him by Chip Ingram). I have enjoyed spending my quiet times on my runs reflecting on the characteristics of God listed in this book, but the chapter on love was particularly meaningful to me. Perhaps it was because I once felt unlovable. Perhaps it is because I am running more and more everyday and hungering for it with something akin to love.
On my runs, I thought about how God has blessed me with running, especially now and in this season of my life. I think this is proof of God's love for me. I think back to where I was fifteen years ago and how much I hated myself. And I think about how much of myself I have sacrificed for motherhood. Whole pieces of who I used to be don't exist anymore. But then I think about my God who loves me and who knows my every desire and delight. And I know that He gave me the ability to run, and He gave me this peak in my running. People may be looking at me to see to whom I give credit to for these accomplishments. I think of recent compliments I have been given, such as "Great job today!" or "You're running strong!" or "Another win!" I hope that I am glorifying Him (and not myself) through my running. None of my victories would be possible without Him. I want to always give the credit to Him for every blessing in my life. His love of me (of all of us) is indescribable. I like to picture how happy He is while I am running. I can only dimly compare it to how happy I feel while I am watching my own children is their happiest pursuits.
Song lyrics always seem to sink much deeper into my soul when I am running. When I run alone, I can listen to Christian music and really listen to the lyrics. Reflecting on those is a very meaningful part of my time with God. Lately He has spoken to me about His love through two songs. Rather than have my little moments and then completely forget all about them, I chose to write out what I experienced.
Mandisa's song "Definition of Me" was playing today as I ran. I was pushing the double stroller up the biggest hill on my route. I looked down at my arms, and sweat was literally just dripping off of my wrists as I grasped the stroller and pushed with all of my might. Drip, drip, drip. And I pictured all of my ugliness and hateful thoughts and sin just dripping out of me like the sweat and being replaced by God and His goodness. It was a pretty spiritual and amazing experience for me, and it happened right in the middle of an ordinary run on an ordinary day. No one could see my tears behind my sunglasses as the beautiful message of this song pierced me:
I want the love, I want the light
I want the beauty on the inside
I want the one that you can't see
To be the definition of me.
Oh how I want to exhibit just a piece of God's love, how I want it to shine from within me! This song really reminded me of how I'd like to be and about where my focus should be.
On another run-- a solo long run-- music was my friend that helped me pass the time and forget the pain of trying to run a marathon-paced long run by myself. Running can easily become our "god," especially those of us who spend a lot of time, effort, and energy either running, thinking about running, or talking about running. The song "How He Loves" by the David Crowder band was playing, and it spoke to me because it reminded me that God wants us to hunger for Him in the same way we hunger for running (or whatever we might be passionate about). The same way I am hungering for a marathon PR---am I hungering for God that way?
And the song brought me to tears when it came to the chorus of "Oh, how He loves us so..." Sometimes I feel completely unworthy of being able to run. I feel like I don't deserve His love or anyone else's. I think back when I was starving myself, my body literally devouring its own muscles. And I am so thankful that He loves me and that He pulled me out of that abyss and that He gave me a husband and two beautiful children to love. Here are the lyrics to the song:
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.
Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.
If you spend too many runs with your mind somewhere else, on the mundane and trivial things of this world, I challenge you to really listen with your soul as you run. I know I am looking forward to seeing what God will reveal to me in my future runs.