“Define yourself radically as one defined by God.” – Brennan Manning
I have been struggling to come up with a post recently. Being intentional is super important to me. These posts are meant to be meaningful, insightful and intentional. Many times in my life I lack one or all three of these things. As with most of my pertinent (and decent) thoughts and ideas, this came to me on a string of runs.
A few of my good running friends in high school and college were head cases. They would overthink races and psych themselves out. I could beat other runners I shouldn’t because I have never been much of a head case. My problems are I lack talent and in the desire to see just how tough my body (and mind) is, I get risky in my training and often injure myself. One thing I do have going for me is I am usually mentally strong when it comes to running. I realized as I was dying 1,000 deaths on the Steamboat Springs High School track today I am a heart case. The success of my workouts and races have too much of a direct correlation with the health and contentedness (had to double check if that is actually a word) of my heart.
Want to watch me self-destruct in a race or workout? Have a close friend or relative tell me I let them down right before I start. Tell me there was a time I disappointed you. Better yet, let me know something I said or did hindered your spiritual journey.
Basically, when I sense a broken relationship in my life I suck as a runner. Sometimes that is a friendship or a relationship with a family member. More times than not, it is some sort of spiritual brokenness. And in that case, it is often something my God has already forgotten and moved on from.
The words of Brennan Manning have inundated my thoughts recently. Today, as I ran round and round the track, pushing my body to its limits, I might have had a breakthrough. I spend a lot of time trying to learn who Jesus was as a person. What He said. What He did. How I can apply that in my life and relationships. But this was always for outward intentions. I want to be Jesus to my friends. To my family. To the cashier at Azteca. To the woman I share a chairlift with. To the driver of the car that nearly runs me over while I am running. To the random people who walk into our office. Not once have I read about or studied the life of Jesus to learn how to treat myself. Put simply, I am not Jesus to myself.
When I mess something up, particularly a relationship, I am not Jesus to myself. I stop loving Nathan. I am harsh to Nathan. I am critical of Nathan. All of this negativity comes out when I am trying to run fast. Because apparently I am a heart case. Henri Nouwen says, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy to the spiritual life.” Moreover, Brennan Manning states in his book Abba’s Child, “We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus.”
The thing is, knowing (and experiencing) the love of my Jesus and my God should be freeing. Especially of my problems and negative thoughts. All of the time.
Today as I was racing the clock around the track I started to fall back into my self-defeatist attitude. I remembered not spending time in meditation and prayer the night before like I normally do. I reminded myself of the things I did not say to a person I am close to that I should have said. I reminded myself of the reoccurring sin in my life that I continually relapse into. And then I remembered reading Manning’s words:
“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself. ” – Brennan Manning
“We unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves… But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves — unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely.” – Brennan Manning
And I remembered the God I follow is fiercely in love with me. And wants to spend time with me. And wants me to enjoy a Godly presence in everything I do, especially while I am in His Outdoors. So I ran free. And I ran fast. My weary heart no longer held me back. And I was met on the track with Love.
What is keeping you from allowing you to love yourself compassionately, intensely and freely?