Someone asked me once why I prefer to use a treadmill over running outside. (Notice I didn’t say “run” on the treadmill.) Sure, when you run outside, you get to watch the changing landscape, and the treadmill keeps you locked in one spot. And outside, the distance you’ve traveled actually feels like a distance whereas the distance on a treadmill just feels like the passage of time.
But the reason I use a treadmill is because I can’t trust myself to keep pushing through the rough spots. On a treadmill, I have to make a firm decision to slow down because I have to push a button to do that and it beeps at me in an annoying, judgmental way. Without that treadmill determining how fast I’m “running” I would run as slow as I possibly could while still looking like I am running. I would avoid those hilly or difficult paths and go for the flattest, simplest, easiest runs possible.
Now, I know that the benefits of exercise would probably be felt sooner and that I would get to my goal fitness level/weight/condition sooner if I had the discipline to push myself without a treadmill telling me what to do. But I know myself, and I don’t have that ability right now. For me, I get in shape faster when I use a treadmill because it forces me to burn calories in ways I never would choose in the midst of my sweaty, exercise-induced exhaustion.
In many ways I feel like my life is this way. If it were left to me, I would never choose to push myself. I would never choose to go through the difficult events in my life. I would have kept Jake alive. I would have kept Luna and would be anxiously awaiting her arrival even now.
I certainly would not choose to give my sister leukemia either. I have watched my sister battle leukemia for over 11 years now and her strength and faith have grown me in immeasurable ways. These are things I never would have learned if it was up to me to choose the path of my life. I would have skipped that path if I approached it on my “run.” I would certain be skipping this most recent hospital stay which feels so different and so serious.
Good thing God is my treadmill. I made the choice to step on that treadmill and allow Him to make decisions for me. It’s much easier to say that you’ll choose to do the difficult thing before you get there. To push those buttons picking a challenging program before you have started. Before you are sweaty and exhausted. Before you start doubting your ability to finish.
There are definitely days when I am positive that I can’t finish and I want to push that button to slow down my treadmill. This weekend feels this way. My feet are dragging. Sweat is getting in my eyes and my heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. Maybe I am over-reaching with this metaphor?
The weekend started with some rough news regarding Jen. Anyone who knows Jen knows why the docs won’t give us a timeframe. She is stubborn to a fault and if we try to tell her how much time she has, she will do anything to prove us wrong. We visited her at JHOP on Friday night and she slept most of the time we were there. She has wasted away to a fraction of her physical self and when she opens her eyes, I see a pain there I haven’t seen before. But I did get to see a glimpse of the typical Jen when someone asked her if she needed a nurse and she scoffed, “psh….NO.”
And as a kind of morbid bookend to my weekend, Monday is Luna’s due date. I am not really sure how I am going to feel on that day, but I have certainly been on edge all week leading up to it. There is this surreal feeling as though I have forgotten something or left someone somewhere. Instead of preparing sub plans for my maternity leave, I am lesson planning for the rest of the year. Instead of waiting to feel contractions, I am waiting to hear news about my sister. Instead of feeling excited anticipation, I feel grumpy, antisocial and impatient. Instead of being excited about going to the hospital to deliver a baby, I am hoping I don’t get the call to go to the hospital to be with my sister.
Maybe I would be a little more prepared to handle this if I hadn’t spent the last week going double-time and trying to keep up with everything while Patrick was out of commission with his back problems. Maybe I would be better prepared to handle this stuff with Luna if Jen was healthy and home with us.
But I am not pushing the button to slow down on this treadmill. God has chosen this “run” for me for a reason and He will be glorified through me; otherwise, all of these things would have happened for no reason. I chose a life that would shape me into the woman God wants me to be, and if this is what it takes to get there, then so be it. It is never easy to get our body to look the way we want it to, imagine how much harder it must be to shape a soul.
Father God, I trust you with my life. I hand it over to you completely and I know you will do what is best. Give me the strength to climb these hills and the determination to keep running. Be with Chris and Al and Will and comfort their aching hearts. Create in me a heart full of compassion for others who have experienced loss in their lifetime. Show me the way to use what you have allowed to happen to me to bring you glory and honor, for you are the only one worthy of our praise. Thank you for the time I had with Jake and the joy that Luna brought into my life and for the incredible relationship I have with Jen. I have learned so much from these people – these precious jewels – in my life and I continue to learn from them all. I pray I can be as selfless as Jake, as wise as Luna, as strong as Jen and as faithful as Chris when you need me to be. In all things, Lord, your will be done. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.