A Nun’s Life community member Julia writes about training for a marathon. Whether you are a runner or not, how might Julia’s words apply to a situation in your life? What bits of wisdom shine out for you?
A few weeks ago, I started to feel a little run-down. I didn’t think much of it; I kept working and kept running. I got a sore throat, lost my voice, started to cough, and continued to feel pretty awful, but I was so busy that I managed to push it out of my mind and motor through. After all, I had a 7 mile run to tackle; who had time to wimp out? No pain, no gain, and all that.
When the fever hit, I made it two days before making a doctor’s appointment, since it was clear that this–whatever it was–wasn’t going away. A few hours later, I had a prescription for a hefty dose of antibiotics and a diagnosis of pneumonia. (In retrospect, I suppose that explained quite a bit.) My doctor ordered me to take two days minimum off of work. I sheepishly agreed, but then she dropped the bomb: “…and NO RUNNING until you’re back to your baseline.” (Um, excuse me?) In a trembling voice, I asked what she meant by “baseline”–were we looking at a day? Two days…a week? “It all depends on your recovery, but we could be looking at up to two months,” she replied.
Just like that, my carefully crafted plan fell to pieces.
Numbly, I thanked her, gathered up my things, and left. As my brother drove me home, I thought about my training. How could I run a marathon if I couldn’t work out AT ALL for two months? What was I going to do? I hated the thought of scrapping my plan; it was a good one, and I had been working really hard. True, my recovery probably wouldn’t take two months, because my immune system was doing its job nicely, but I couldn’t afford to waste any time.
I went home and parked myself on the couch for a week. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without resting three times–30 seconds after standing up, I had to sit down again. Once I was on the mend, my body flat-out refused to work past its potential, and (luckily) I was so scared of getting sick again that I listened. If I was tired, I skipped my run and took a nap instead. I did what I could, when I could, and tried to work from there. Despite my compliance, I was full of anger and frustration over my situation. I couldn’t seem to make sense of my new circumstances, no matter how hard I tried. I’m a 24-year old distance runner who eats well, drinks tons of water, takes vitamins, gets lots of sleep. I was doing the right things for a good cause. How could this be happening?
After letting my negative thoughts ruin my attitude for a few days, I took the advice of a friend, stepped back and took stock of the situation. I had been given another chance. I was still healthy, my body had done its job, and a disease that could have killed me was working its way out of my system. I might not be able to run the marathon I wanted, but could I run a marathon? Absolutely. I hadn’t lost much of anything except a bit of time–and my temper. In the process, I learned a valuable lesson in curbing my tendency to be a bit, shall we say, “controlling.” I needed to hold on to my hopes with an open hand, just in case God had other plans. I’m happy to say that I feel MUCH better now, and I’m still on track to run the Ann Arbor marathon in June. I’ve also learned an important lesson about God as sovereign, one that I will work hard to carry with me.
What experiences have you had in which God’s plan didn’t match up with yours? What did the experience do for you?
Read all of Julia’s posts as she trains for the Ann Arbor Marathon.