Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Residual effects

Somewhat to the surprise of friends and family, I am doing well.  Yesterday, I had trouble going down stairs, due to tight quad muscles.   And one of my brothers called to make sure I was still alive.  But I put my marathon medal in the bottom drawer.  I did the laundry and made supper.  And after a good night's sleep, I am good to go.

I woke this morning -- post marathon day two -- with one thought in my mind:   Do something different today.

What remains after a marathon is not pain, but a courage.

Other things don't seem so impossible, so fearful, so daunting.  I am not so afraid of trying new things.  In the past ten years since I ran my first marathon, I have ventured into cooking, blogging, writing short stories, various ministries, and hiking.   God has worked me through self-imposed limitations.  It is not that I now have more confidence in myself, but a deeper understanding of what He can do.

With a marathon, it is not the pain that changes you, but the discipline of moving beyond the ordinary.  When we try to learn anything new or different or difficult, those efforts create a freedom to do yet something else.

Trying something different doesn't just open your eyes to new opportunities;  it physically changes you.   Medical research shows that doing what is out of the ordinary -- or the same things a different way -- actually nurtures and develops new "highways" in your brain.  It strengthens your courage to embrace change and explore possibilities.  In contrast, anxiety, addiction, and sameness continually close down avenues in your thinking, physically shutting down your ability to see options.

And when you step beyond, it provides someone else the freedom to do the same.  I didn't start running on my own.  I saw my cousin tie on her own shoes, join Weight Watchers, and start running before work.  She's now running half-marathons.  And she is the one who got me thinking,"Hey, maybe I could do that."

I didn't start by running marathons.  I just stepped out the side door one spring day, ran two minutes and walked two minutes.  And repeated it the next day.  And the next...

Do something different.  Drive to the store another way.  Order something you have not tried before at a restaurant.  Sit in a different chair when you are reading.  Listen to a new station on the radio.  Change up your schedule -- eat later, get up earlier.  Even wear your favorite blue shirt with a different pair of slacks.  Run a marathon, one step at a time.

It is easy to get paralyzed into passivity.  It is even easier to take a first step in the opposite direction.

God can open our eyes,
     open our hearts,
and enlarge our gifts.
As Creator of the Universe,
He never meant for us
to be stuck with small thinking.

Fear not,
for I am with you,
be not dismayed,
      for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you
     with My victorious right hand.

                     Isaiah 41.10

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