Tuesday, August 9, 2011

stop faking it!

I was coming home today from a great swim. I was tired but high on endorphins and noticing the world in an enthusiastic manner. My honda fit crested the hill just before I got home and on this hill was a runner. He was killing that hill but his running was laboured as was his breathing. His face was contorted and he wanted to stop, but as he saw my car approach he kicked it up a notch and gave it his all towards the top of the hill. While I was impressed I was also concerned, the movement of his limbs and the expression on his face indicated to me he needed to stop or slow down for a break. I wondered if my car had not approached would he have pushed so hard? 

I know myself as a runner and I would have done the same thing. I admit I run faster when there are cars and people to watch but if I am alone on the road with not a soul to see what I am doing I know I do not push as hard. I know this technique of mine has nothing to do with the actual training for a sport and everything to do with my ego and pride but I am not ashamed to admit it. I want to look like I am a good runner. I pretty much kill myself on a hill, increase my pace or do an extra loop on a run if  I am aware someone is looking. Once I turn the corner or the car disappears out of sight only  then do I crash to a stop sucking in oxygen from the like a newly rescued drowning victim. I fake it and I am no longer ashamed to tell you that.

I might be the only one who does that when they run, but I cannot imagine that I am alone in this "faking it to look good technique in life". I am sure if we stop to analyse ourselves we will all find a place where we so badly want to be better than we are that we fake it.

One of the the benefits of faking it, it does force you to go farther, harder or faster than you would otherwise, that has to be good right? I am sure sometimes that can further your ability as a runner, but what I have found as a very very mediocre runner that the best thing for me is a slow steady consistent pace, to run honestly with my abilities. It is mentally taxing and seems so very difficult but after time your body learns to run and finish well.

I love the analogy used in the Bible as the Christian life is compared to running.

 1 Corinthians 9:24
 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize.

I sometimes try to fake it in front of God too. Silly, I know as He knows and sees all things but still my pride says I need to fake it sometimes. Faking it can look like holding back tears, not admitting frustrations, saying yes to everything when no was a better answer, always thinking you have the answers when deep down your very core has doubts.. I could go on. Faking it in front of God looks like many things, take a minute to see where you tend to fake it. 

The bottom line is, there is no need to fake it, God does not expect us to be more than what he made us to be, he knows our very thoughts and sees all our emotions. Faking it in front of God only tricks ourselves and maybe those around us. Like running, finding the pace you are meant to take at this stage in your life is important. If you have recently experienced a loss, are realizing some of your powerful doubts, are struggling with a depression or other illness your pace will need to change for a while. 

A race can never be won by one concerned about how he looks to others, it will be run by a runner who knows his pace and can push himself within that range. The Christian life can only be lived in joy when we are living within the honest knowledge of where we are at today and thanking God that He has us, no matter what. God has us in all of it.

So my thoughts for today, stop faking it! run, walk or limp with honesty towards God, He has you.

Shine on my friends

Monday, August 1, 2011

the new black.

My Canadian friend Jen, gave me an fantastic gift this summer. It was a running shirt, made specifically for ultra hot environments, it had an SPF of 50, the ability to wick the sweat away and it was light ..ooo so light. But I had doubts, see this shirt was black..yep..black.  Black fabrics attract the heat and make you hotter and yet this black shirt, was made specifically for running in hot environments? 

All my life I knew black attracts heat. My premise for doubting this shirt was valid. I had a lifetime of wearing black shirts as proof. I had my doubts but the label in the shirt informed me that this technical fabric was called cold black, and somehow it actually made you cooler when you wore it in the sun. I wondered if Jen might have gotten caught by a marketing ploy, I had my doubts, many of them but I put my new "cold black" shirt into my suitcase to wait for a Bahamian test "run". 

Fast forward to the present, I return to the Bahamas and eagerly await the first day I could run in my new shirt. The day arrives, the temperatures were in the mid 90s with an even higher humidex. Perfect I thought, I will put this shirt to the test and either it will impress me or kill me. Either way, I find out. Now I have to be honest, I took a short route for the test, I was a bit fearful that if it did what I thought it would do and attract the heat I would be risking heat stroke and wanted to stay closer to home. Doubt had me in its grasp but I did not want to stay there, so off I went on my test run.

Guess what, that cold black shirt did work. It actually felt cooler than any other running shirt I had used before. I have now used it twice and am seriously thinking about buy stock in the company and then having all clothes fashioned out of this seemingly magical technical "cold black" material.

 If I had run with a shirt that actually attracts the heat in such weather it would have been at best uncomfortable and at most very hazardous. So what was the benefit of my doubt?  The benefit of my doubt was that had I fully believed in something I had never before experienced I would have failed to noticed the benefit of this new fabric. I would have given credit for my increased comfort to my hydration level, rested legs or super ability to run. Doubt had a place, it showed me the truth by letting me experience it. Doubt forced me to make a decision, stay with what I believed and never try the shirt or to admit that perhaps I do not have the market on truth about black fabric and to try something new. 

 Doubts are natural and important to acknowledge. If a person has never doubted their faith, or beliefs I have to wonder if they have investigated it on their own terms. In order to full grasp or experience something you need to test it out like I did with my cold black shirt. 

Most of us are afraid of doubts, thinking they are the first sign of a downward slip of their faith. I tend to see doubts as the first sign of a potential growth in your faith. Doubting hurts, it is uncomfortable and most people will rarely admit they are in doubt. But doubting also forces you to confront and experience what truth is, and my friends, truth will always come forward, and it is beautiful. Asking tough questions and facing tough realities forces us to come face to face with our doubt and then if we push further and allow truth to speak to it you will experience hope and faith like we have never experienced before. 

The bible tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Many of us have doubts that God is good but few of us  have given truth a chance to inform us any differently. My experience with the cold black shirt reminded me that I get stuck in my own learned ideas of what reality is and rarely give truth a chance to speak differently into my life. Tasting to see is a position of vulnerability we must assume. We cannot assume we have the market on truth about God, He is far to vast for anyone to claim they entirely know Him. Tasting to see makes us lay down what we have claimed as our own truth and give truth back its own voice and speak in to our lives. Today, my friends, recognize your doubts, do not be afraid of them but instead allow them to challenge you to taste and see what truth is wanting to tell you. 

shine on my friends!

the truth will set you free John 8:32 
taste and see the Lord is good Psalm 34:8