Monday, October 3, 2011

The Lonely Runner

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

I don't do it because I like it. I'm not even doing it because I'm getting a lot of satisfaction out of it. My clothes are not, after 3 months of this torture, falling off of me. I have to make myself do it. Once it's done, I feel the thrill of victory because I managed to force myself to do it one more time without spontaneously combusting. Yea, me.

I'm not an Iron Maiden fan, but I think at least one of them must have done some running too. Otherwise, I don't think they would have come up with a song like The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. I tried to listen to the song on You Tube to get in the mood to write this post. I made it till they started screeching. I like heavy metal about as much as I like running. Deepest apologies to Sons #1 and 2.

As I was running today, I was thinking a lot about life and how life is a lot like running. There are days you run in perfect weather with the wind behind your back. You don't even break a sweat. Endorphins kick in, and you could run well enough and long enough to keep up with Forest Gump himself. And, you want to because you'd rather run than stop.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Then....there are days when you are running into a gale force headwind, uphill, barefoot, in the snow. If my mamma didn't raise you, you are probably cussing every single miserable step. 

If you had a choice, you'd swing off the road and into the nearest 5 star spa for a massage and champagne laced mud bath. You don't, so you keep running hoping you'll run out of the wind and snow and onto flat ground where someone is waiting to hand you running shoes and some high energy food. Maybe spaghetti with a chaser of chocolate.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I started out life as a long distance runner before I could walk or talk. It wasn't of my choosing. I was born into it. Somehow, it has been the kind of life that has left me feeling as if I was always running to catch up to something. I wasn't sure what it was most of the time, I only knew that I was trying to find a way to get in step with everyone else around me.

God always seemed determined to keep me on the outside looking in. Maybe we all feel that way. If you found your way here and kept coming back, I guess you must feel the same. Or have at some point in your life. Welcome home. Stay a while? Let's run together.

Courtesy Christina Hooker Jones
My first running-to-catch-up moment was probably in about 4th grade. A fellow student walked up and said, “Ya'll worship the devil at your church, don't you?” So, I spent the next 30 minutes trying to convince him that “Holy Roller” did not equate with devil worship. You see, I was born into a Pentecostal family WAAAAAY before being called “Charismatic” or “Full Gospel” was cool. You would have been cooler if you had a 3rd eyeball in the middle of your forehead.

These days, just about everyone, everywhere has been to a church where folks clap their hands or raise them to the Heavens in worship. If not, you've watch 'em on the TV and wished you were there – admit it! Back then...well...ah...NO! Being part of that lifestyle was about as accepted then as being a polygamist in the Warren Jeff's cult is today.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
For example, some kids from my church were in a city park once when we were approached by an earnest young man who attended a local independent, fundamental Baptist Bible college. Back in those days, they had to go around 'witnessing' to folks or preaching on street corners. It was sad, really sad to me to see how desperate they were to convince total strangers that they were hell-bound. 

Even before I was a tween-ager, I just knew you couldn't threaten and scare people out of Hell and into Heaven. So, I felt sorry for those fresh-faced young students who had to wade out into the world every week to try and do so. By the time I came face-to-face with their condescension, I was in my teens. I didn't feel so sorry and sad for them after we met in the park.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
We were minding our own business. Adult leaders were in charge. The young man approached us and struck up a friendly conversation designed to evaluate our fitness for the coming kingdom of Heaven. We assured him that we were all on the same bus and welcomed him into our group. We were naive and did not know that, where he came from, it wasn't enough just to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Christ Child who lived and died on the cross. We needed to go to the 'right' church. His. Or one of the affiliates. We didn't. OOOPS!

When we told him where we did attend church, he visibly stepped back and began to tell us that we were NOT on HIS bus as he was not headed to hell in a hand-basket. Furthermore, we were just 'tongues on 2 legs' because the church doctrine allowed for the 'gift of speaking in tongues'. He might as well have shouted, “Unclean LEPER!!!!” such was his visible angst.

Courtesy Jessica Paine
I wonder about that poor fella today. IF he does make it out of here on the same bus that picks me up, I hope God will let me see his face when he hops on AFTER me. I sorta wanna enjoy the shock of it. (I do mean that in all Christian love, of course, bless my heart, Honey.) Also, I've been saving up a joke I wanna tell him: Whaddya get when you cross a Holly Rollin' Pentecostal with a Southern Baptist – a Reformed Presbyterian. I just crack myself up sometimes.

Now that being progressively Spiritual means a lot of folks go to churches where the music pounds as folks clap and/or raise their hands, he might have mellowed over the years. Maybe not. Looking back, it is no small wonder that his love of Jesus didn't drive me fast and furiously away from the Jesus he professed to serve. Instead it took me decades to reach a point that I was no longer God's head cheerleader.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Well, my time is up for today. I'm hoping you'll come back again soon and bring a friend. Last May, a couple writer friends told me my writing would never be 'as effective' as it could be till I 'settled this thing between [me] and God'. I think I'm on to something here. It has to do with running to catch up, how lonely it has been, and how it is part of that 'thing' between me and God. See ya tomorrow? 

John 4:14 (Bible in Basic English)
But whoever takes the water I give him will never be in need of drink again; for the water I give him will become in him a fountain of eternal life.


  1. The runnin' gets you nowhere, eh? or as they say in Maine... "ayuh."

    I hate the running. I like Jesus saying Peace. Be still. :)

  2. yea...remind me of that every once in a while! Unfortunately, I'm either wrasslin' or runnin' most of the time!