The cool, crisp air slipped past my skin as footsteps fell on crushed gravel paths. No music, no TV, no small child climbing me like a jungle gym. Everything was simplified.
One foot in front of the other.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Pray for the timer to beep so the torture can stop for a minute and this out of shape, no endurance “wanna be” runner can gasp for air and come to her senses.
I’m tempted to give up on running. I really don’t like it, I’m actually pretty awful at it, and I’m slower than a snail stuck in gum. When I was looking for a good beginner running app in the iTunes store, I settled on C25K (“couch to 5k”) simply because they didn’t offer one called “Nutella and Sweatpants to 5K.”
I’m really not sure what part of my brain thought that meeting a good friend (who happens to love running, is running a half marathon, and has been running for years) for a nice short run was a smart idea. She was gracious. She ran slowly. She waved to other runners and chatted and made it look easy and part of me hated her for it while the other part was completely envious. She encouraged me every step of the way, gave me tips & made me laugh. She didn’t mind that I was breathing like Darth Vader for the 3 minutes of running.
I had every intention of pushing myself well beyond my usual 2 miles. I had 4 miles in mind. If I could do that, well the 5K would be easy peasy, right? God had some very interesting alternative plans for me that morning. Starting with realizing around 1.5 miles that I’d lost my car key. You know. The one that was OH SO SECURELY tucked inside my iPod shuffle arm band. Apparently my amazing muscle tone (ahem…jiggle) and graceful running (see: elephant stampede) somehow knocked it loose from its home. And being the observant gal that I am, I had no idea when it happened.
I waved goodbye to my friend as she ran the 11 miles back to her car and turned around to retrace my steps. A million thoughts ran through my head about where my key could be. What I would do if I didn’t find it (cell phone may have been locked securely in the car. I am all about safety.). Worst case scenario on top of worst case scenario. The weather was still gorgeous, cool and crisp, but the uncertainty of my ability to drive home to my family took away any hope I had of enjoying the walk back to my car. Oh there was no running on the way back – I feared that if I ran, I would focus on my breathing/stride/time and zip right past that key on the ground.
All I could do was pray. For over a mile of crunchy, tree-shaded trail I prayed that God would help me find that key. I passed three gigantic dogs pulling their owners on a run and prayed that they hadn’t eaten my key. Or worse. Ick. I walked past other runners, walkers, hikers and prayed that they weren’t hoarding my key in their pocket so they could steal my car later. I prayed that my car would still be in the parking lot when I returned to it. I prayed that God would just tell me when to stop on the trail when I got to my key.
I spent a beautiful autumn Sunday morning trusting God to help me find that key. And He did. Right at the trail head. In the middle of the path. Where all those dogs, runners, walkers, hikers, and bike riders had gone past it and left it untouched. By the grace of God I found my key, and in doing so realized that the key to it all was leaving it in God’s hands.
So now, looking ahead to where God has me in this season, I know the key is right in front of me. More rest, peace, wisdom and clarity. I don’t need to be in an emergency situation to stop and lean on God – but I do need to hand control over to Him in my every day. My plans are nice, but His are perfect. So I’ll turn off the TV, let the little one use me as a jungle gym, and turn it over to the One who cares about the big stuff, the little stuff, and all the stuff in between.
I might never be a runner, but at least now I’m moving in the right direction.