Monday, July 15, 2013

Athletics: It's never been easy for me. .

There was that moment when I came up over a small hill and I was thinking, "wow,  my legs are tight today."

The new route for my first long run in months has me on edge with anticipation.  I've run this neighborhood several times, but never turned off on the side streets.

And then I see it.   A hill that has a steady incline for about five houses and then a sharp incline right at the top.

And then I stop.  Just the sight of it makes me shut down.  Mentally, I'm toast.


REWIND to two years ago when I began my physical "fit"ness journey.  I was never good at sports. I lack the hand eye coordination that it takes to keep flying balls from smacking you in the face.  Or getting on the scoreboard.  My biggest claim to fame, sports wise, was in high school.  I played on the girls basketball team my senior year.  I practiced so hard to make that 3 point shot.  And in one game I actually succeeded, alas it was for the other team.  Im sure the running affected the lack of oxygen getting to my directionally challenged self.

Running.  I only swore to do that if someone were chasing me.  But after Type 1 diabetes entered my life to stay, I knew that I had to find some way to keep healthy and watch my children grow up.

It all started with running.  You can read about my Evolution in exercise here, if you'd like.

But to cut to the chase, I finished my first half marathon and then vowed I'd never run again.  Half-joking, of course.  I was tired of the training schedule, just in time for Winter.  That's all the motivation I needed to chill.

Then came spring and I had a new goal.  A triathlon.  I had found I loved swimming and was learning to like road biking.  So last month I finished my first triathlon (and am set to do my second one in two weeks in Nashville).  I survived the swim, endured the biking.  But what made me guess my sanity?  The run (at the end of the other two).

You see, I have a hard time with all things physical.  Not because I can't do it.  But because I believe that I can't.  Or I defeat myself in thinking I have to do it the same as someone else.  I have to be as fast as they are.


Im back at the foot of the hill.  The beast.  It's "nasty." 

Sure I could turn around and go back the way I came.  But I know there's no point. Im only going to hit another hill in less than a mile.  

So now what?  

This is the part of exercise that, I swear, it feels like other people have the edge on me.  And I just have to learn how.  I have to BELIEVE that I can do it.  

So right there at the foot of the hill, I have a pep talk.  Rachel: you can do hard things.  YOU can do hard things.  Rachel you can do HARD things.  You can kill this hill.  Who cares how fast it is.. just get up the damn hill.  

Here I am two years later after starting this journey and learning that when I stop challenging myself mentally I start to believe I don't have what it takes.  But today I learned a very big lesson: I have to give myself the freedom to move at my own pace.  Sometimes it's going to be faster than my PR and sometimes it's going to be "painfully slow."  But at the end of the day: it's ME doing it.  It's the journey.  It's the moment of pushing myself to believe.  It's the small victory that gives me the courage to believe the next time.  

 I love that no matter the time I have away from any one apparatus (swimming, biking, running) I can always enjoy the challenge of "getting back into it," knowing that it will get easier. 

 I just have to be willing to push myself up that hill.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

In which you start questioning your theology. . .

"Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?"  

No. It hadn't.  

At least not in 33 years of life.  I mean, that's enough time to decide dogmatically what you are comfortable accepting as right and balking at the rest, right?  

So what happened?  Why did some of my theology change?  I consider that an easy answer: 

I realized I was actually able to ask hard questions. 

For the first time in my life I was told that I was safe, with God, to question things I had been taught.  Most people have this happen in college and then some abandon their faith.  Not me, I was secure in the Gospel.  No matter what changed in any of my views on God, the Church or The Bible, nothing altered the obvious anchor of my soul:  the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it's finished work to save me.  

However, everything else was up for debate. And that is an unnerving place to be.  Mainly, because other's aren't so comfortable with my questions.  Others don't feel the same freedom that I do to question long held traditions of thought that can easily be argued another way using another set of Scripture.  Some others can tend to focus so much on where I will land on a particular issue (that has been debated for centuries by Christians the world over) and forget to see what brings us together.  

I just said to a friend today: I'd give anything to go back to where I was three years ago.  Where I was much more willing to just take a position and believe I was absolutely RIGHT! And everyone who disagreed was simply, wrong. 

And seeing as how I don't want this post to be about "what" your theology "should" be and more about what to do if you start asking hard questions, let me tell you this:  BE BRAVE!  Trust that the questions or the doubt can not separate you from the love of the Father.  

Here is a quote from a gal I admire, Rachel Held Evans: 

"I’ve decided to quit apologizing for my questions.  It’s not enough for me to maintain my intellectual integrity as a Christian; I also want to maintain my emotional integrity as a Christian. And I don’t need answers to all of my questions to do that. I need only the courage to be honest about my questions and doubts, and the patience to keep exploring and trusting in spite of them.

The bravest decision I’ll ever make is the decision to follow Jesus with both my head and heart engaged—no checking out, no pretending.

It’s a decision I make every day, and it’s a decision that’s made my faith journey a heck of a lot more hazardous and a heck of a lot more fun.  It means that grinning monster, doubt, is likely to stick around for a while, for I know now that closing my eyes won’t make him go away. It means each day is a risk, a gamble, an adventure in vulnerability and trust, as I figure out what it means to follow Jesus as me, Rachel Grace—the girl who cried for Zarmina, the girl who inherited her mama’s bleeding heart and her daddy’s stubborn grace, the girl who digs in her heels, the girl who makes mistakes, the girl who is intent on breaking up patriarchy, the girl who thought to raise her hand in Sunday school at age five and ask why God would drown innocent animals in Noah’s flood, the girl who could be wrong.
It means I’ve got a long race ahead of me, but I’m going to run it with abandon. I’m going to run it as me. Because I think that’s what God wants—all of me, surrendered and transformed, head and heart engaged."
(read the entire post here)

Ultimately, that is my heartbeat.  To remember that it's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to disagree with those that you have long since been in unison.  It's okay to be wrong.  The wonderful thing about a life lived with God is that it is never stagnant.  I will be learning and re-learning so much over the next (however many) years I have left.  But I want it known that I wholeheartedly believe that God will redirect me as needed.  The pendulum will swing with less force and settle in the middle at times and then at other times, it will fling wildly to one side.  But I will never be dogmatic in anything accept the preciousness of the Gospel of Christ and it's power to change my life.  

For now, I will go back to consuming Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis to help keep me grounded by that anchor.