The Lesson I’m Learning

I know it’s been a while, but God has been teaching me attitude adjustment and exposing certain idol worship in my life. And he’s been doing so by very severe means!

As you know, I love to run. It’s truly a gift from God, and a way that I strive to glorify Him.

But let me be honest. Sometimes, a worm creeps into my thoughts. I begin to run to glorify myself. See how strong I am? See how fast I can run? See how often I run? Isn’t my husband a lucky one, to have a fit wife like me? I’ve come so far, I can run so fast, it must be because of how dedicated I am.

I boosted my ego like this all the way up to the Foam Fest 5k I ran with a couple from my church. Granted, it was a blast. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Slides, mud, lakes, lots of giggles… but the entire time, a never-ending commentary on how amazing I am, how fit I must be to run this treacherous course and climb those horrible, horrible army plank walls. Look at me, look at me, look at ME.

I finish the race, smiling and pretty darn proud of myself. Let me add here that I don’t think taking pride in your accomplishments is an evil thing. But taking the glory for an accomplishment or talent that you wouldn’t have without God’s mercy and grace most definitely is.

Later that day, my joints and muscles are aching and throbbing. I’m shivering like a Chihuahua in the 75 to 80 degree summer heat. I huddle pathetically on a lawn chair with my family and husband, a sad sight after the Olympic goddess I imagined myself to be earlier.

The following Monday, after constant chills and aches, I sink into enormous fatigue, forcing me to set aside my work and take a “quick” nap. Thank goodness I’m already working from home — who knows how I would have gotten home. I sleep, covered in forgiving, fleece blankets, my head and legs aching wildly.

I wake to a hand on my shoulder. Mister is home. I had slept for 4 hours, and I looked dreadful. He leans down to kiss my head, then recoils, replacing his lips with his hand. “Your head is on fire!”

“It’s because my face was against the fleece blanket.”

“No, you’re burning up.”

“I’m not sick!”

A few minutes later, and my 104 degree fever is confirmed. I sink into medicated, writhing sleep. My body burns, but my psyche cries out for the blankets that my husband (so cruelly, I perceived at this time) keeps from me.

Tuesday, I wake up feeling better. Psh, it was just a flu.

Wednesday, I wake up with my forehead at about 102 degrees. Well, this has never happened before. Two fevers within three days? Hm.

Mister takes me to MedExpress. One glance, and the doctor diagnosed me with viral meningitis. An infection of the brain fluid. I probably got it from the race.

Fast forward a month. I’m better, albeit dizzy and tired, and I’m pulling my running shoes on for a run with a running buddy. She had continued the running schedule in my absence, maintaining our fast running pace and 4 mile distance. I’ve hopped out of running for a few weeks before and hopped right back into 3 miles. I’m not worried.

Mister and me during recovery… such a loving doctor πŸ™‚

We set off at our usual brisk pace. We’re going to try for 3 miles in 29 minutes. We are beasts, we can do this!

Half a mile in, my head is swimming. My breathing is labored, my body is heavy, my forehead throbs. Running buddy pulls ahead, checking on me now and then in a quaint spin. I wince and heave most attractively, pushing myself to at least make a mile.

I do, promptly clasping my dizzy head in my hands and bending over to bring oxygenated blood to my brain. I might pass out.

After a week of the same experience, I bitterly discuss my failures to my ever patient, ever wise mom. “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you that your identity is not as a runner.”

My complaints screech to a halt. Why had I not seen this? I know that God is in control of every aspect of my life, even the weeks of fevers that wreaked havoc on my body. He’s in control of my life when I’m strong and healthy, He’s in control when I’m too sick to think, He’s in control when I’m crumbling on the trail and cradling my brain and begging Him to stop the dizziness.

Ashamed, I remembered the moments of self-glory. What an idiot I was! My bitterness, all this time, was directed at God’s perfect will for my life. I had made myself, my fitness, running, my identity as a runner into an idol, an idol I fashioned for myself.

God took my idol from me. Ripped it from my hands. And set me back on the trail with little muscle and a reeling head. He made me completely vulnerable again. He made me back into the soft clay He could work for His glory. His glory.

So that’s where I’ve been. Pray for me as I continue to learn?


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