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You’re Still Good

On April 11 of this year I wrote these words in my journal:

I just now tried to go for a run. The first minute I was ecstatic to finally be running again after seven months. I was laughing and thanking God. Then I looked down at the watch on my wrist that tracks my heart rate. 160. I can’t remember another time that my hopes have been so quickly flattened. I continued to stare at the numbers, not believing as they continued to rise. Even though I knew it was stupid, I had been longing for five years to feel the rush of actually full on running instead of just jogging. So I began to run for less than a minute, and it felt wonderful–except for the pressure in my chest and the rising number of 180 flashing. I had to slow down. I began to sob as I kept thinking of my doctor’s words, “It shouldn’t go much higher than 140, and it definitely shouldn’t go higher than 180 unless you’re doing some intensive training.” Between sobs, I prayed aloud what didn’t even fully make sense to me: “You’re good. You’re still good.”

I’ve often wondered in good times, Will my faith be strong in bad times? It’s been a grueling past week with three people I have known that have died, and I can’t even run to work out all the emotions inside me.

Here I am, and now I know–I can grieve in the peace of His goodness.

Here I am, a month later, after a week of post-op from my elbow, looking for ways to start exercising. My doctor says that my heart will need some time to adapt, so I will start out slowly and build up, awaiting the day when I can full out run.

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One Day

Little by little, starting nice and easy and building up each day, being consistent and committed, and never giving up–one day I will run again.

A Different Kind of Run

Today has been a day of complaining. At least, from my own mouth and thoughts complaints have been running wild. For the past couple days my left arm has been hurting, which in particular has made practicing piano hard. This morning I sat in class piano, pitying myself. I have to rest my arm frequently throughout the class and practice times, and it’s beginning to annoy me.

Then tonight, I went to what we call “Summit” here at IWU. As we sang some worship songs, I suddenly remembered: today is January 19th; today it’s been one year since I broke my elbow. Then I took notice of the song we were singing and realized that it was a song that had come to have special meaning to me last January. The line that has always stood out to me comes from the chorus: “I’m running to Your arms.”

A thought hit me: “I may not be able to run physically, at least not now. But always–always– I will be able to run into your arms, Jesus.” A grin spread my mouth wide. Physically I may be weak at times, but in and with Christ I am strong.

So what have I to fear?

The bridge of the song is the prayer I sing to God:

“My heart will sing
No other name
Jesus Jesus”

A Treasure of a Run

I’m trying to run away.

The voice hides on my right shoulder, somewhere in my hair. He bounces up and down with the beat of my footsteps.

“You failed today.”

I look back behind me, gazing at the ground I’ve run over. I look for traces of this failure: I woke up exhausted so I canceled plans with a friend. I tried to work in the garden but became tired and drained quickly. I realized that I had forgotten to pick up my prescription at the store yesterday. And my grandmother made an innocent comment, but I could see the translation at the bottom: “You failed today.”

I try to swat away at this voice. Unlike the fly that buzzes around my face, this voice will not go away. Where did it come from? What is it exactly?

As I turn to go uphill, I feel my heart rate increase, and another voice perks up from my left: “You are weak physically.” Yes, I see his point. I have a strange heart, often lack energy, and can’t seem to get done what I need to get done.

I slow my pace and take a glance at my right shoulder and then my left. Now I recognize  them. Untruths. Oh how they love to pester me. They’ve often been able to bring me in slowly, and with time these little things can crush me.

Not this time. I grab them at their root as I have done in my grandma’s rose garden, and I hurl them down the hill. Then I pick up my pace and close my eyes. I imagine that I am running in a field, my fingers brushing the tall plants that reach up around me. My hair swishes all about me, covers my face, and then throws itself back behind me. The sun shines down and freckles my face. I shade my eyes with a hand and I see him. He’s leaning against the tree, his mouth wide open in what must be laughter. Stepping away from the tree, he opens his arms out in a broad and extensive way. I run harder. I begin to hear a whisper of “You failed t…” But I hurl it back down to the ground and run faster. Without slowing down a bit, I run right into the arms that have been waiting for me. Holding me tightly, he begins a whisper of a song, and the lyrics go like this:

My darling gem

What else can I do but

Treasure, treasure you

He sings it soft and quiet and then loud and victorious. He draws back and looks at me as his voice thunders in, around, under, and above me. His eyes are alive with a fierce, raw tenderness toward me.

With my lungs filling up with joy, I open my eyes and find that I have run to the top of the hill. Breathing hard, I stop and look down at the world in front of me. The wind twists around me, and in it I can hear bits of the melody he sang to me. Today was the day when Jesus spoke Truth to me: He treasures me.

100%

I keep asking myself, How much is enough? When can I rest at the end of the day and say, ah, good, I’ve done it?

Last week my doctor, dear man, spent a half hour answering my questions and explaining more about my heart and what I can and cannot do. He talked about something I’ve read and heard about a lot lately. If I remember correctly, you take 220 and subtract your age to find your maximum heart rate. Now you can’t stay at this rate of 100% for very long. Usually when exercise, you want to stay between 60 and 85% of your maximum heart rate. But then you want to bring back down to a good resting heart rate.

Today I was thinking about this formula. See, I’ve begun to realize that I cannot live surging forward at 100% every hour of every day. I can’t even do 80% all the time. I will wear out and not be worth much of anything. There’s so much I want to do. I easily worry. I easily become anxious.

But in the end, why I am running at all? It brings me joy, and I feel that I am alive. I can worry about every little finite detail, or I can fix back on my focal point: the champion of my faith. I don’t understand this concept. This faith of mine is ever filled with questions and wonderings. It is also filled with living each day and seeing how He does guide me, whether I understand it or not.

So here I am: running and resting and living with focus.

Unless You Run

“You shouldn’t run. There are other exercises you can do.”

For a while I listened and thought, OK, I can do yoga, walk,  some video exercise. After all, I need to do what’s best for my heart, and running doesn’t seem to be what’s best. The twenty-four hour halter monitor showed that while I had been jogging, my heart rate had gone up to 189 beats per minute. No wonder I felt dizzy afterward.

When I sat in the doctor’s office yesterday, he offered various routes we could take. He said that the choice was up to me: what did I want. I leaned forward and told him, “I want to run. So I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do, to run, not lightly jog, but run.”

Because there’s nothing like it. I am tired of walking and jogging when I have this desire to blaze down the road and burn up the pavement. I remember being in the gym at school one day and seeing this guy full out run. As his arms and legs pumped and flew, I thought, That’s what I want to do.

Tonight I watched the movie Secretariat, which was surprisingly good. I admire the main character, how she won’t back down and how she fights hard despite the risks. One line of hers stood out to me: “You never know how far you can run unless you run.”

I want to find out.

Emotions that Fuel

I had spent hours with people, and the day wasn’t over. Beginning to feel overwhelmed, I was afraid that the reunion would push me too far. Tired and irritable from a lack of sleep and hardly any time alone, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself.

So I took off running.

The wedding ceremony had just ended. People I hadn’t seen in months or years began to crowd me with questions of “So what’s your major?” or “Could you give me an update on your life?” With a fraud of a smile, I told them what they wanted to hear and then excused myself. I went down to the basement where we bridesmaids had gotten ready. Seeing that no one was down there, I wiped the tears off of my face.

And I took off running.

Grandma said a letter had come for me. I took it from her hands and stared at the address. Taking the stairs two a time, I ran up to the studio and shut the door behind me. She had written. After over a year of writing the ten-year-old girl, I had learned not to expect any letters from Atlanta. In the first few lines, I read, “Thank you for praying for me and believing in me.”

I could have run a marathon.

Restraint

“No strenuous exercise,” she said.

I just nodded my head as the doctor continued to talk about doing an EKG in June when I would return to the States in order to see if I still have SVT problems with my heart. I nodded, but in my head I was thinking, “Running isn’t strenuous. Running isn’t strenuous.”

I had waited three months to run, and now this woman was telling me I had to wait again? The next day I pulled on my running shoes, determined to disregard the doctor’s orders. As I began to run on the sidewalk outside my townhouse, I remembered a poem we had read in my American Poetry class, “Silence” by Marianne Moore. Moore writes,

“The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint.”

The word restraint rang over and over in my thoughts as the wind knocked my hair against my face. What does restraint say about a runner? About a person? Does a strong runner run as hard as she can for as long as she can? Or does she train herself, sometimes running hard and sometimes drawing back, sometimes pushing herself and sometimes resting? Are we meant to live life full throttle 24/7? Or are we meant to balance straining and recharging daily?

I slowed my run to a light jog. My pride was hurt. I imagined that the people I passed were thinking, “Is she running or walking?” But I was determined to respect the doctor’s orders while still doing what I love.

I am running with restraint.

I Am Running To–

On Sunday–I was running.

It was only for about ten minutes, but ah–beautiful. It was eighty degrees with a heavy wind that was making my hair fly, making me fly.

Throughout the past three months, I have had dreams about running. My arm would be free and without pain, and I would wake up aching to go for a run but unable to do so. On Sunday the dreams came alive. And there was no pain.

I am no longer running

away

from what scares me.

Now I am running

to

a life of full.

Now I am running

to

my preslatki Jesus.

Quality

Dreams propel me forward. . . and s l o w me down because quality matters to me. When I run, I will not settle for a treadmill or an indoor track, unless it is snowing. When I run, I want the wind tossing my ponytail and the trees casting shadows on me. When I cook, I will not settle for frozen dinners and canned vegetables. When I cook, I want sauce staining my hands and flour coating my sleeves. Easy and fast just won’t cut it.

I am running outside.

last summer when I made dessert for the Farmer family