Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ready to Run

For most of my life, I have generally hated running. I never saw the point. It seemed like boredom with a faster pace and little reward. Funny, I used to think the same thing about eating my vegetables – there was just too much too quick.

My opinions started to change a few years ago when I realized I had gained weight at an average of about five pounds a year. That was a trend I wanted to make go away. So I changed my diet and started walking.

Within a short period of time I noticed that I felt a lot better. I had renewed energy, and I even felt younger. The place I would often go was peaceful and allowed me to de-stress. Over time I accelerated my pace and increased the distance I would travel. Eventually I found myself wondering, “I could probably go farther if I started running.” Since then, I have worn out the souls of my shoes and have become an avid runner.

“Runner’s high” was a feeling I had not experienced before, but it is definitely worth the effort. I loved it. Once I pushed past the threshold of casual effort and got my “second wind,” It was as though I had achieved a new level of freedom. I felt more confidence, strength, and ability. I could do more and it felt good.

Recently I went running in a canyon not far from my home. The road wasn’t too steep, but there was enough of an incline to get my heart rate up. As I began my ascent, a fortuitous wind came from behind and assisted me up the hill. It was almost as easy as running down the slope. I wish I could figure out how to get that kind of help more often.

Besides running for exercise, I often find myself running from one appointment or task to the next. People in our culture generally do, so chances are that you can relate. Keeping a fast pace with family, work, and other responsibilities can be very tiring at times. In fact I find that I get tired for a variety of reasons that aren’t always the same.

Regardless of the circumstances, the questions I seem to ask most are, “Am I going to make it?” or “How can I do everything that is expected of me.” We all have challenges to deal with. Sometimes, what I need to face them is additional strength. The way I find it is not much different from when I go running.

Have you noticed how dramatic children can be when they have stubbed a toe or bumped their arm on something hard? Yet if you can distract them, they suddenly forget all about the problem. I don’t think I am much different.

One strategy I have used to face my problems is to zoom out and focus on someone else. If I keep looking at my problem under a microscope, it doesn’t get any smaller. The alternative is to look at someone else’s problems and offer them some help. It’s a strange paradox, but somehow it works – my problems often seem less in comparison and I get a fresher perspective. The real benefit comes when I go beyond my comfort level, and a casual effort, to provide some meaningful service.

The Savior taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (St Matthew 25:40) I believe when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are greatly blessed with his help.

Jesus’ invitation to “
come, follow me,” suggests that we haven’t arrived yet. We have to leave our comfort zone and become more like him. His call, however, does not stipulate a pace. He allows us to set our own speed. The important thing is to make sure our direction is constant and correct.

I know when we add service to our already busy lives, the Lord blesses us and gives us strength beyond our means. The Holy Ghost testifies to our minds and our hearts that our course is correct. He will also direct us in our thoughts and our efforts if we are listening.

There is a sweet peace that comes when we serve God, and when we serve those around us. It’s another wind that gives us strength. That special gift from the Holy Ghost makes running worth it.

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