Saturday, March 16, 2013

Running From or Running To?

Since I began running seriously, I have had more than one friend/colleague/family member mention that they would never run unless someone was chasing them.  While it is a very lame attempt at humor, I have been pondering the significance of this idea, running away, and especially as it pertains to me.  Indeed, it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in The Bells of St. Mary's...The clip I'm thinking about starts at about the five minute mark in this YouTube video.

The point is that, whatever our vocation is, it is a running TO something, rather than a running AWAY from something.  As I continue to heal from my failed marriage, I have to wonder whether the idea of having a religious vocation was just me running AWAY from the possibility of being hurt by another human being or even being the hurter of someone else. I'm still not sure about that one, to be honest with you, and I've kind of put discernment on hold until I have my "declaration of nullity" in hand...Most of the orders that I have contacted have done that for me anyway when I tell them that I'm divorced and don't yet have my annulment.  To my knowledge, I'm still slated to go to a "come and see" weekend in April, but I'm even wondering if I shouldn't put that off as well.

Even so, I also wonder about my backing off--am I running away from what God wants of me because I have always wanted children, and I'm not yet ready to give that up completely?  When I was married to my ex, I mourned the fact of not having kids multiple times--I thought I had made my peace with the idea of never having kids of my own, and I know that children are not a possibility as long as I am single.  But there is also part of me that really craves that moment when you hold your own little one for the first time--does he/she have ten fingers and ten toes? What is it like to breast-feed?  Can I be the kind of mom that I want to be?

I must also admit that I am really enjoying the freedom that comes from being single again--it is kind of nice to be able to have popcorn for dinner occasionally when I don't really want to cook, but don't want to spend the money on going out to eat; to use some of my grocery money on a race entry fee if that is the only way I can afford it; to be able to stay up all night reading or watching movies without disturbing anyone; to be able to hit the snooze button twice (confession time: or more) each morning if I want to; to be able to go running at 9 pm because the whim hits me.  I know that all of this freedom probably isn't all that good for me, but I still revel in it from time to time.  But that, too can be a running away--an escape--from the day to day stress, the compromise that is integral to a marriage relationship, from the responsibilities of life, from the pain I still occasionally feel because of the disintegration of my marriage.  Where does normal stress relief end and shameless escapism begin?

Right now, the only thing I can truly say I'm running TO is healing.  I want to be better, less damaged, less needy, and more on an even keel emotionally.  Every day, I thank God for the fact that He is helping me to become less damaged, even though I sometimes despair of ever being truly healed.  It is like training for a half-marathon.  You run, you rest, and you cross-train in regular intervals--and sometimes, if you are lazy or you get a cold, you miss days.  But, you keep picking up the training schedule again because you want that medal, that PR, those bragging rights.  And, as time goes on, your body changes and begins to crave the exercise--you begin to feel icky when you DON'T Run or when you eat too much junk food.  As I heal, I'm able to notice more when I think disordered and damaging thoughts, and I'm able to see where I need to heal more, just like I'm more able to see areas where I need to work on my weaknesses as a runner ("Heel-Toe" "suck in that gut" "shoulders back and relaxed" as Pru would say) now that I have some miles underneath my belt.     That is where I want to be spiritually as well--I want to crave the good things and let go of the bad things.

Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. --Phil. 3:13-16, RSV