Running Free

23 Aug

Last time I wrote of running unplugged and not experiencing any epiphanies but quietly building my confidence. Tonight, the epiphany arrived before, and then necessitated, the run. I’ve been struggling with fatigue, which has made getting up early enough for my morning run impossible the past couple of days. I needed to run tonight to maintain my fitness level so I didn’t fall back into the painful cycle of having to rebuild. More importantly, I needed the emotional release that running provides and quiet time to meditate.

My apartment has been empty since Saturday, and this week is the first time I’ve been alone, really alone after finishing work at the archives in months. For the past two months, I have been with friends and acquaintances nearly every waking hour, which stayed the loneliness. However, once everyone had gone, I had no more distractions from the melancholy that settled in. Despite having numerous reasons, all logical and some quite serious, I have continued to struggle with my eating habits. I tried to fill the loneliness with food, with books, with TV shows, even emailing and chatting with friends, but nothing filled the void because it came from within and not from outward circumstances. I would overeat at times because I didn’t think I was worth taking the extra effort to make wiser choices. And therein lay the key to understanding why I persisted in doing things I knew were not healthy: I didn’t think I was worth it.

Tonight’s epiphany, then, was this understanding and the truth that the One who created me made me for more than this. As I set out for my run, without my iPod I might add, I walked out of the door unafraid – unafraid of the pain I knew was waiting for me from stiff muscles and an overly full belly, unafraid of disappointing myself with my ‘performance,’ unafraid of the stares and strange looks I would get for running at this odd hour – or running at all, for that matter.

I knew that this would be the last time I allowed myself to overeat and so willingly accepted the painful reminder that I was intended for more than the physical pain, emptiness, and shame I felt after eating too much. Despite that heaviness though, the rest of me felt light and free. I was made to live into my full potential and not settle for anything less. I had been praying that God would sink that truth into my heart, and he answered that prayer in a profound way tonight as the puzzle pieces I had been mulling over dropped into place.

So I ran. I ran into town and down Cours Mirabeau, magnificently lit up and reminding me of the magical unreality of Disney World, with hundreds of well-dressed people milling around, enjoying late dinners, and every vendor still displaying jewelry, clothes, and handcrafts after dark. I ran into the softly lit, mysterious medieval streets of Centre Ville and up toward the Cathedral, its illuminated tower shining like a beacon, pointing me home – not home to my apartment in Aix, but home within myself, within my heart, at peace with who and what I am. As I passed it, I breathed a thank-you to the One who affirmed me. I ran on, feeling as if wings carried me up the hills of this ancient city and finally ended at the gated entrance to the apartment complex, surprised to have arrived back so quickly. I ran with and into freedom and a deep sense of peace tonight.

Although the road back to full health remains long and even a little daunting still, I am more confident now that I have what I need to persevere. For those who are curious, I found 2 Peter 1:3-11, 1 Corinthians 6:12, and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 very encouraging, along with Lysa TerKeurst’s Made To Crave. For now, my watchwords are self-discipline and perseverance. I trust God for the strength to follow through and to face my fears with courage rooted in truth.

I realize that I still have other stories to tell of my travels, but I write what I feel compelled to write when compelled to write it and must therefore apologize for the delay once again. At the same time, I believe the inner journey is as important, if not more so, than the outward adventures.

A balance between living and writing about living remains to be reached, but I sense that I am getting closer. More stories to come – and pictures!  🙂


Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Self-Reflection


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2 responses to “Running Free

  1. Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell

    September 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    MOYERS: You’ve seen what happens when primitive societies are unsettled by white man’s civilization. They go to pieces, they disintegrate, they become diseased. Hasn’t the same thing been happening to us since our myths began to disappear?
    CAMPBELL: Absolutely, it has.
    MOYERS: Isn’t that why conservative religions today are calling for the old-time religion?
    CAMPBELL: Yes, and they’re making a terrible mistake. They are going back to something that is vestigial, that doesn’t serve life.
    MOYERS: But didn’t it serve us?
    CAMPBELL: Sure it did.
    MOYERS: I understand the yearning. In my youth I had fixed stars. They comforted me with their permanence. They gave me a known horizon. And they told me there was a loving, kind, and just father out there looking down on me, ready to receive me, thinking of my concerns all the time. Now, Saul Bellow says that science has made a housecleaning of beliefs. But there was value in these things for me. I am today what I am because of those beliefs. I wonder what happens to children who don’t have those fixed stars, that known horizon — those myths?
    CAMPBELL: Well, as I said, all you have to do is read the newspaper. It’s a mess. On this immediate level of life and structure, myths offer life models. But the models have to be appropriate to the time in which you are living, and our time has changed so fast that what was proper fifty years ago is not proper today. The virtues of the past are the vices of today. And many of what were thought to be the vices of the past are the necessities of today. The moral order has to catch up with the moral necessities of actual life in time, here and now. And that is what we are not doing. The old-time religion belongs to another age, another people, another set of human values, another universe. By going back you throw yourself out of sync with history. Our kids lose their faith in the religions that were taught to them, and they go inside.

    • pilgrim752

      September 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Tangentially related piece from The Chronicle on the debate between vitriolic New Atheists and those who have yet to define themselves with a name but who claim that religion is not the inherently evil menace New Atheists, led by Richard Dawkins, proclaim it to be.

      Back to the conversation between Moyers and Campbell…
      As I know something of only Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and cannot speak to other religious beliefs, my comments will focus only on that which I know.
      Certainly ‘religious’ beliefs have evolved over the ages, but there is a difference between “religion” and the One it worships. God does not change. He is who he is.* If he changed with the whims of people and what our current thoughts of what constitutes morality, he would not be God. From a human standpoint, what ‘good’ is a god who is not God? What value is there in believing in something, someone larger than ourselves, if we believe we hold the highest truth?

      Christians often get caught up in rules, regulations, and restrictions rather than getting to know the God who created them and cares for all his creation. They miss Jesus’ most important message within the gospel of salvation – that of compassion and grace and love. This message was radical in Jesus’ time and remains so now. That message does not change who God is, nor does it change basic moral principles, but it does or should alter our hearts when we look at ourselves and others. If we allow the truth of Jesus’ life and message to reach our hearts, it can be life-changing, and following in his footsteps – loving others wherever they are in life – never becomes outdated. What we need more of is not the binding legalism of ‘old time religion’ but a refresher in the heart of the message.

      Don’t confuse religion for faith, nor those who claim to be believers with the God they worship, nor passing notions of virtue for morality. The differences are subtle in some cases, great in others, but they’re important.

      *I like one scholar’s explanation of the use of the male pronoun to refer to God – God is neither male nor female, but ‘he’ is used in the same way that ‘man’ is used to refer to ‘mankind’ in general. ‘He’ is also much more personal than the neutral ‘it’, and when speaking of a God who created the heavens, earth, and everything in them, including us, it seems much more appropriate to use a ‘he’ for one who has been so personally involved in our lives.


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