I entered into the church, already, what I thought, was two steps ahead of what our pastor's wife would be speaking on. I was heading for the Woman's Life Bible study and that day's topic was on rest. "I know I don't get enough sleep," I was already saying to myself, "I know I am burning my candle from both ends." I had already planned to take a nap when we got home, fold my clothes early and get the little things done so I could go to bed an hour earlier, and made a vow to try to do this on a regular basis. I was armed and ready for her teaching this morning and very satisfied that I had it all together. Until she began to speak.
Last study, we had looked at laziness. Through that teaching, I knew I wasn't lazy. I came to the opposite conclusion. I tend to err on the side of move, move, move. Sometimes it is not good busy, but for the most part I am knee deep in the work God has called me to do. I left that topic thankful that I wasn't fighting laziness but looking forward to the topic to come. So as this topic approached, I thought I knew what she would say. I thought she would be giving me the thumbs up to sleep more, to nap in the afternoons, and to put my feet up. I thought I knew what I needed to do to slow my ball from rolling so quickly. Miss Audrey began to look at Biblical rest and what God's design of it was. It was to be a time of recharging, renewing, and reflecting. Her comment that struck me the most was that "empty rest" leads you to dread getting back to what God has called you to do. Such a simple statement, but stopped me in my tracks. I began to think about all my plans to find "rest" that day. When I do take naps, usually I am annoyed when I wake up especially if one of my little ones wakes me up with a startling noise. I am mad at the world and want everyone to stay away until I can regroup. That's not coming back ready and recharged to do what God has called me to do. Even getting more sleep at night rarely leaves me feeling completely ready to get on with my jobs. The more she described activities that bring you true "rest" the more I realized that my running in the early morning hours ARE my rest. I would never have thought that with my frame of mind when the alarm goes off at 5:30...and it's cold...and my bed is so warm...
You see, it's during that hour each morning, once I am underway, that it is quiet, no one needs me, no one is calling my name, and nothing is competing for my attention.
Running for me has not always been that "rest" and maybe that is why I missed what it had become over the past year. I have been running for the better part of 20 years. I have been running for many different reasons over the years and the actual activity has gone through many different seasons of what it looks like. I began running in college with a guy I dated for a very short time my freshman year. I didn't bring much away from that short relationship except the knowledge that I actually could run, I was pretty good at it, and I enjoyed it. My running continued through my years at A&M and I ran in my first road race with my then boyfriend, Patrick. It was a couple race, The Sweetheart Run, and we came in second. In my early marriage, I ran to stay in shape and to keep up with my young, handsome Marine husband (who could run laps around me!). I ran through all of my pregnancies because I truly believed it was good for both myself and the sweet little life in me. I ran after delieveries to lose that extra weight pregnancy always left behind. I ran with different partners. My first was my oldest son in a jog stroller along with another young Marine wife and her little girl. She became my best friend through those many hours and days of running and the months and months of not having our men home. I transitioned to a double jogger with two little boys and lots of pointing things out like fire trucks, dogs, balls, cars, etc. Life changed again, many moves later, different running partners. I now had a double jogger with a boy and a girl and a young boy keeping up on his little black bike. Again life moving forward, more moves, and I now had two little girls in a jogger, a herder-type dog who needed to run, and two rambunctious boys jumping curbs, challenging me to races, and "beating me" on their bikes. Eventually, life changes, as it always does, my boys began to stay home to work on school, I traded back down to a single with a little girl, a faithful dog, and a young lady on a hot pink bike stopping more than riding. With a husband home, my runs became earlier and earlier because I enjoyed the freedom of my morning knowing that my run was behind me and my day was free. A few more running partners scattered over the years, other mothers who felt the same way I did about life and getting exercise out of the way. Thankful for those ladies, they always became my good friends through the hours of being alone and "all ears." We could talk ourselves through an hour run and still not run out of things to say. Through all of those years, there was lots of talking. Lots of people, kids, extra things beside me or for me to push. Slowly they all went away. One by one, I lost running partners through Marine moves, different seasons of life, and children getting older, too old for joggers. My running slowly changed. It became quiet over the past year. I now only have my still very faithful dog but she is a very quiet running partner. In fact she might be the best one yet. She never wants to talk but will always listen to my sometimes whispered words or prayers or songs that escape from my lips, she is always ready even on the coldest days, and doesn't mind my need to be up before the sun. She never misses a day. I don't run with music anymore, my thoughts alone keep me company. I run and it is quiet. I ponder life, I think about my husband (doing that much more these days!), I pray for my children, I organize my day, I reflect on past days, good and bad, I treasure moments I have had that seem to always be remembered on my early morning runs, I enjoy sun rises, I think of things I am thankful for, I admire the creation and praise the Creator, I take my thoughts captive, and it is quiet. Always quiet.
As I sat listening to Miss Audrey, it became so crystal clear. I run to rest. When I have completed my route, and I am standing on my front porch looking in, it is peaceful and I feel ready to open that door. I feel ready to face the children on the other side, the schoolwork, the toilets that demand a scrubbing, the laundry calling from the hampers scattered all throughout the house, the pets begging for loving, the phone that never seems to stop, the errands and groceries that need to be bought, and the life that I cherish. My mind is on the good things and I am not dreading unlocking that door and stepping in. I don't dread the sounds coming from the top floor nor the kitchen that stands ready for the battle ahead. My thoughts are right. My brain is clear. I am ready to do what God has called me to do.
I sat in our sanctuary that Woman's Life in a new understanding. It was all so clear. Some run to train for a race, some to lose weight, some to maintain weight, some for general health, and some for the love of running. I have been through all of those seasons of running, but right now, in this season, I run to rest. Now I do know that I can not go without my physical rest, but it is the "good" rest that I crave and gets me ready and recharged to do all God has called me to do. That's running for me. As crazy as that sounds. My run is my rest. I run to rest.