Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Does anyone care anymore?

I wonder how often we spend 15 minutes, or even hours, with a person and do not ever realize that they are really hurting. Have we become so self-consumed that we do not realize that they are hurting? Or is it that we honestly just don’t want to take the time to sit down with them and ask them the hard questions? What if that is what they want? What if they want a friend to sincerely ask, “Hey, I notice you have not really been yourself lately. Is everything ok?” What if they need you to sit there with them and allow them to cry or just spill their hearts, even if it takes a couple of hours and even if neither of them can really make sense of the situation. That seems to rarely happen. And oftentimes when the question is finally asked and you begin opening your heart, one of two things happen:

1. They receive a text message or phone call that suddenly becomes more important. They may not walk away to answer, but they are distracted for the moment and respond to something you just said with a half-hearted “uh-huh, continue.” You are left there feeling vulnerable and automatically shut down, not wanting to risk opening up anymore in case you feel that rejection again.

2. You no longer get into the first few sentences and they jump in with “oh, I know exactly what you mean. One time…” and continue to tell their own story. Sure, they may think they are helping you by showing you that you are not alone in your feelings, but you still not end up getting to share what’s on your heart.

Some of you may argue that the person should approach you if they want to talk, but let me challenge you to place yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. Think about one of those times in your life where you were hurting, because several things were starting to accumulate and they all contributed to the stress you were experiencing. Your situation, however, cannot be easily expressed in words. You have spent hours and hours trying to make sense of it all in your mind and you still cannot explain it with words. You feel as though you want to try to express it verbally to make some sense of the madness, yet you don’t want to bother anyone with “nonsense.” If you cannot make sense of it, you know there is no chance that someone else will. Sometimes, though, we just need someone to listen. We need to know that someone cares. People can do all types of things to try to make you feel better, like buying you little gifts or doing some act of kindness, but there are times when just sitting with them would be the best thing you could ever give them.

Perhaps one of my favorite passages in Scripture, Phillippians 2:1-11 states:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature
of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

By this, we are reminded that the Savior of the world humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, the most humiliating way to die at the time. It was a form of punishment meant for only the worst of criminals. In the same way that Jesus considered our needs (our ultimate need for salvation in this instance), we should also consider the needs of those around us. Matthew 25 reminds us that helping others is the equivalent to serving God.

Perhaps you are the one hurting. As much as we may desire for someone to sincerely come and talk with you, you must keep in mind that it may not happen. What do you do then? Sink further into self-pity? Absolutely not! Why? Because we have one on our side who has much more to offer than anyone or anything else possibly can! Instead, take comfort in the following passage (and there are many other great ones):

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91)

How long can we allow this selfish way of living prevail? We must step out and help those that are crying out for help. This does not only apply to those we consider friends. When you think of your worst enemy, think of him or her as a child of God, a brother or sister in Christ even. Does this change your perspective? Can you go to them in their time of need? Or do you make excuses because it is just too hard?

What are you doing to help those who are hurting?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My True Opinion of Running

Warning: This will start out sounding like I’m just complaining, but stick with me. I really just need to vent. J

I have chosen not to write (specifically about running) these past several weeks, primarily because I have been going through an “I hate running” phase. It’s not really that I hate running- I’m just tired of training. I am tired of having to plan my entire schedule around when I’m going to run. I’m tired of having to check The Weather Channel constantly to determine whether the storm is going to hit tomorrow (meaning I should run today instead). I’m tired of the term “long run,” meaning I have to be up before sunrise, gagging on another piece of toast with peanut butter (I used to love the stuff), and washing it down with coffee, all before hitting the pavement to run 11, 12, or 13 miles before noon! I’m really tired of this heat and humidity, running some days when it’s in the triple digits with over 50% humidity! Of course, there was the time that we also ran through a major hail storm, through a major downpour (we had to keep running even with the extra 50 pounds we gained in our clothing from the rain!), and the couple of times that we nearly stepped on snakes (once a black snake, the other time a copperhead!). I’m tired of posts every quarter mile that taunt me by the reminder that I still have 12.75 miles…12.50…12.25… miles to go. I am tired of having to calculate how many minutes on average each mile took and then feeling defeated if it took longer than the last run. I am tired of blisters on my feet and the occasional headache I get after running (though those have decreased majorly!). I never want to eat gel that has warmed up in my pocket again (imagine pouring a thick, gel-like substance down your throat, even when they try to mask the flavor by adding strawberry and banana flavoring, and then trying to wash it down with water, just for the added caffeine to get you through another 5 miles!). I’m tired of getting to the halfway point and not being able to think about anything else except getting the largest glass of ice water possible at the end. And I’m tired of trying to eat a granola bar while I’m running- my stomach and gag reflexes just cannot handle it!

Anyway, I realize this is a lot of “I am tired of’s,” but now that you all are up-to-date on exactly how I feel, let me tell you the positive sides of it!

I am in so much better shape! Of course, I can see the physical changes, but I can actually walk a flight of stairs and not be out of breath. I can run a mile and consider it a warm-up, whereas a couple years ago, I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile! I have a new appreciation and LOVE for water! In fact, I may be on the verge of drinking too much (oops!). I can eat almost anything and not gain weight (not that I do, because I prefer to be healthy, but on those beloved “long run” days, I don’t even consider calories). I also have several friends that enjoy running, so it gives us things to do together and something to talk about. I have connected to several strangers through a discussion of running, people that I may have had nothing in common with previously. I can wear my race day t-shirts and people actually strike up a conversation if they ran in that race (I would not recommend wearing a t-shirt for a race you did not do, however, because then you just look like a poser!). The greatest satisfaction, however, will come on August 14th when I cross the finish line. I will definitely NOT be in the top finishers and I may not make my goal time, but I will finish. And one of my bestest friends, Jenny, will be there to support me (all the way from the Keys!) I don't know who else is planning to come or I would include them in this shout-out! Not to mention, when we’re through, I will go to an Italian restaurant and I will eat anything I want! J

Will I stop running after the race? Absolutely not! I will probably take a week or two off, but I will still run for fun. The great thing, however, will be that not long after the race, the weather will start cooling down. Fall is my favorite time of the year for running! And, I will get to mix other exercises (bike riding, walking, yoga, and some P90X are all likely candidates) in with my running routine. I can barely wait!

Thanks to everyone who has been and who continues to encourage me in this goal of completing this half marathon! It really means more than you can know! I'm almost there...