Why I (sometimes) Suck at Running

Anthony Famiglietti is one of my favorite runners. Mainly because he is somewhat insane. And he has the persona of not caring what others think of him. He runs free. He runs with reckless abandon.

Anthony Famiglietti is one of my favorite runners. Mainly because he is somewhat insane. And he has the persona of not caring what others think of him. He runs free. He runs with reckless abandon.

“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?

Jesus and His Besties

This is me upside-down in a boat. I imagine Jesus would have also like whitewater. And used it to teach lessons. Probably His most important lessons.

This is me upside-down in a boat. I imagine Jesus would have also liked whitewater. And used it to teach lessons. Probably His most important lessons.

In my last post, I talked about taking risks and embracing discomfort and doing what you are afraid to do. Then I mentioned how what continues to guide me in seeking out growth through situations of discomfort and fear is a Trust in a Devine Spirit. Then I mentioned I would address that in a later blog post. Here is that blog post.

This is a profound topic that is impossible to fully grasp (especially in a blog post). Nevertheless, a circumstance between Jesus and His besties helps shed some light on my thoughts.

23-25 Then he (Jesus) got in the boat, his disciples (besties) with him. The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat—and he (Jesus) was sound asleep! They (besties) roused him, pleading, “Master, save us! We’re going down!”
26 Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass.
27 The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command!” – Matthew 8:23-27

 
This is lovely. For so many reasons. First, this is early on in the relationship between Jesus and His besties. Not long before this, they had given up everything in their lives to follow this dude. Stable jobs, families, potential relationships, safety, comfort.Even though Jesus had already said some rad stuff and done some rad things, I imagine they were still somewhat nervous. I mean, they gave up everything. And now they are on a boat with this Jesus dude. And things are not going well. And by not going well, I mean they were about to capsize. And this crazy man, Jesus, is passed out asleep. Even though He had just performed miracles minutes before stepping on the boat, the besties were sketched (to say the least). But within this fear and discomfort was a teaching moment for Jesus and a growing moment for His besties.

My favorite part of this scripture is that Jesus calls them out. He calls them cowards. Love it. Love the honesty. Where do you feel Jesus could call you a coward in your life? What is your storm? Where are you sketched? Where are you not trusting? Even if you do not believe Jesus was the Son of God, where are you not allowing trust in other aspects of your life?

Moreover, what is your boat? What is the opportunity you can see in your life that involves risk, fear and uncertainty? Where is there potential in your life for things to not work out well?

Let’s jump in that boat. Let’s play in that storm. Let’s have fun with it. In the next big time opportunity or life decision, will Jesus call us faint-hearts?

Running the Risk…

I would like to run here. It would be nice. And soft on my 25-year-old joints.

I would like to run here. It would be nice. And soft on my 25-year-old joints.

Yesterday, about 10 minutes before I normally leave for my run, it started dumping. Hard. Huge, wet snowflakes mixed with rain. And the wind was blowing what looked like 358,956 miles per hour. To say it was not appealing for a run would be a gross understatement. I happened to check Facebook and saw a friend’s profile picture. This picture was of another runner who passed away too young. It reminded me of him and a college teammate of mine who also passed away way too soon.

What were their last runs like? This thought was more than enough to get me to lace up my shoes and trudge out into one of the most insane runs of my life (weather-wise). It was also one of the most gorgeous runs of my life. Let me tell you why. It hurt. It was tough. It was mentally draining. It was cold. It was uncomfortable. I could go into the million reasons why I adore running but what it comes down to is I love the discomfort. I love the challenge. I love the hurt. Because it makes me a tougher, humble and hungry runner. The discomfort experienced by a runner is a cause of fatigued muscles. The heart, the legs, the arms, the core. It is a breaking down of muscle fibers so they grow back stronger.

Discomfort is what produces growth in my life. Discomfort is what makes me move. The biggest time of growth in my life – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally – has been the past 14 months. This has also been the most challenging, tough, uncomfortable, hurtful and gorgeous 14 months of my life. The thing with being comfortable is it feels great (obviously). It is safe, secure and pleasant. It can also trick us into settling. Or keep us from moving. Or from growing.

A quote from my first post has been one of my guiding lights for the past year.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Emerson

This is a sure way to make me uncomfortable. Obviously this can lead to some sketch situations, but no matter what, it creates a story. And the majority of those stories have been meaningful. However, for me, there is a certain Trust and Belief in all things working out for the best. More to come about this in a future post.

What are you afraid to do? What makes you uncomfortable? What area in your life feels incomplete? What risk are you not taking?

For me the answers are: I am afraid to commit to one person but I am also afraid of loneliness. I am also terrified of living a life that doesn’t matter or isn’t fulfilling in the right ways or truly connecting with those closest to me. Conflict makes me uncomfortable. I like everyone to be content and peaceful. I feel incomplete in almost every area of my life. The biggest risk I am not taking is allowing myself to get super close to some people. Or perhaps being vulnerable.

What are your answers? What are you going to do about them?

Let’s get uncomfortable. Let’s take some risks. Let’s live big lives. With gorgeous  stories.

This Dude, Jesus…

Image

This photo reminds me of some autumn runs with my boy, D-Gale. I have missed them.

Around the time I was 13 or 14, I decided to check out this dude, Jesus, for the first time. So, I opened this huge, boring looking book called the Bible. Jesus isn’t in the beginning of the Bible. There is just a whole bunch of weird and boring stuff. Jesus comes later. Much later. It took me a while to realize that.

Anyway, I immediately fell in love with Jesus. My first impression of Him was when he climbed up a mountainside with His closest friends and talked with them. He shared with them all types of gorgeous and radical ideas. One of them was this:

“This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” – Matthew 5:45

Later, He said this:

“Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – Matthew 5:48

I realize there are going to be people reading this who identify with the Christian faith and those who do not. Regardless, my God gives His best to everyone. Everyone. Terrorists, prostitutes, priests, teachers, Americans, Russians, Kansas Jayhawk basketball fans, attorneys, the homeless, those in poverty, the wealthy, ragamuffins. Everyone.

Today I sat through a seven hour training about poverty. I could not help but think about the connections between my spiritual beliefs and acknowledging and confronting generational and situational poverty. And this is because they are completely connected.

So many who share the same faith as me use this beautiful and selfless faith to oppress and manipulate. Instead of doing exactly what Jesus was doing, which was hanging out and loving on the poor. And the prostitutes. And the tax collectors. And the lepers. And (if they would have existed then) the Kansas Jayhawk fans. And His closest friends. And His mother. He loved all of them. And lived graciously and generously to all of them.

My Jesus gave His best to all. My Jesus lived with love, compassion, empathy, grace and generosity to all. Living any other way is a misconception and misrepresentation of my Jesus. And I misrepresent all of the time.

/endrant

Hello, Blogosphere!

Let’s kick this off by explaining the name of my blog. The name comes from Brennan Manning’s book Ragamuffin Gospel. The shortened synopsis for the idea is Jesus loves ragamuffins. And that is what we are. Nothing we do will earn this Love. It is already there. For us to enjoy. This obviously falls very short from portraying the premise of Manning’s work, but you get the idea.

Some posts on this blog will contain my spiritual evolution and journey. Others will simply be about major life events and experiences. Others will be about minor life events and experiences. They will all be truth (through my eyes and heart) and probably reveal too much information about myself.

One of my favorite things in the world is quotes. For my inaugural post, here are some quotes that inspire me:

“The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.” – Thoreau

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Emerson

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Emerson

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” – John Muir

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir

“Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.” – Ed Abbey

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”  – Don Miller

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”  – Bob Goff

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” – Bob Goff

What words inspire you?