On Tuesday, seeking a change and a chance to get to know the Steamboat Marathon course, a friend/coworker and me were dropped off 17 miles outside of Steamboat. When we left town and were dropped off, it was 55 degrees and sunny. I left the fleece in the car and wore just a t-shirt.
Although I have spent a lot of time outdoors in the mountains, I left my better judgment with my fleece and did not think about drastic weather changes. The first four or five miles of my run were gorgeous. I waved at cows, took in the scenery, clicked of some fast miles and tried to focus on landmarks for reference during the actual marathon. I rounded a corner and saw a very ominous cloud staring me down. The eternal optimist in me just assumed it would pass over.
Then, I started to notice I really had not seen any sign of human life for a while. Just cows. Cows are nice but cannot help when weather gets bad. And that is what happened. It started to hail. Then sleet. Then lightning and thunder. Then rain and sleet. Then rain and snow. Then rain. All the while, the wind was blowing in my face about 30 miles per hour.
After another few miles, I could see the valley leading into Steamboat. It was completely socked in. This storm was not going to break. Ice started to form on my arms and chest. My core temperature was dropping. I started to literally lose my mind. I cursed myself for the ignorance of leaving my fleece. I cursed the storm. I cursed the heavens. I cursed the cars driving by at 60 miles per hour splashing more water on me. I cursed the cows. I cursed God.
I stuck my thumb out to passing cars. No one stopped. My fingers started to lose feeling. But the worst part was the loneliness. More than the loneliness of the situation. The loneliness felt from losing a companion. A companion you spent seven years attached to. And I cursed God for putting me in that situation. In my mind numbing experience, I had forgotten how much God has been alongside me through the loneliness caused by a tragic situation.
When I made it back to our office, I was extremely embarrassed and hurt by my own actions. I really lost my mind. Seriously. While telling people about it, I could laugh with them about the absurdity of the situation. Now as I am typing this, I am even smiling. But inside on that day (and the next), I ached over my anger. I sent an email to my good friend, Melissa, to tell her my embarrassment and my feelings of potentially damaging my relationship with God. I mean, I really let loose on Him. Here is part of her response:
“Your story reminds me somewhat of how I imagine Peter feeling after the rooster crows. Often we are so quick to judge Peter for abandoning Jesus in those final moments but I know Peter loved Jesus more than I ever have because of all that he gave up for him that I have not. So, it had to take a severe situation of fear and a build-up of the emotions of those last days to cause him to abandon his Master, his Friend. And when he hears the rooster crow, I hurt to imagine how horrible he felt. I think he was destroyed by his betrayal and the fact that Jesus knew all along that he would do it. YET – I think Peter truly became the Rock upon which the Church was built because of that experience specifically. That despite his lack of faithfulness and his passionate betrayal, God’s love never wavered. God never abandoned him. And as a result, Peter – out of intense love, not shame or guilt – committed the rest of his life and suffered eventual martyrdom out of faithfulness to a God who never denied him. In the end the story goes that when Peter was to be crucified he requested to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner of Christ. Another example of a wounded healer.”
Beautiful. It is SO our God to watch us throw a tantrum in a literal or metaphorical storm and then await us with open arms. And Love. And Forgiveness. And when we are ready to move past our pain, shame and guilt (admittedly sometimes so challenging to do), He is ready to do lovely things with us and through us. I think the first step is to allow ourselves to be filled with Love. To allow ourselves to be blessed and then bless others. Because despite our beliefs otherwise, I do not think life is about our tantrums on the side of the road in the rain in front of the cows. It is about the radiant Blessings and Love waiting for us. It’s time to stop feeling guilty. Or shameful. Or disappointed in ourselves or situations. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s time to be blessed and bless.
What are you holding onto that you don’t like about yourself? That is, what is holding you back from feeling Blessed and Loved? I have a long list to choose from. Let’s let go of one of those things this weekend. And look for a Blessing to replace it with. I am going to attempt to let go of my mileage paranoia. And my amazing ability to be disappointed with myself.
*Editor’s note: If you did not click on “Melissa” and follow the link, my internal journalist is disappointed. It is a link to her blog. It has better insight and is more thought provoking than anything I write. Here is an opportunity to check it out again.
*Editor’s (second) note: I love running. I do. It is why I do it too much. I just don’t have as many life lessons on beautiful runs when everything is going my way. Even though I think it might be boring, the next post about running will be describing a beautiful run. Ugh. It makes me sick to think about writing about just my run with no deep life meaning. So boring. But I will try to spice it up. Maybe I will wear a costume while I run. Or try to get a CMC student to chase me.