A few years ago, I started running. It seemed everyone was doing it and I had this vision of training for a 5k. I cried the night, yes literally cried in the middle of the gym, the night I ran twenty minutes straight. I loved the high I felt as I ran and loved the sense of accomplishment.
I was only into running for a brief period of time but in that time I learned the difference between running on the treadmill and the real road. The real road, even the flattest of roads, is more difficult to run on. Or walk on for that matter. There is a reason the prayer says, “May the road rise to meet you…” On the treadmill, the road really does rise to meet you and even propels you forward as the belt rolls round and round.
I was thinking about this again earlier this week as I was walking…and even doing a little running despite my orthopedic surgeons advice to never run again….
I was also thinking about all of the ways that I try to stay on the treadmill in other areas of my life. Relationships I want on my own terms, avoiding the dreary of day to day or conflict or the kind of deep intimacy that is always hard but always shapes and changes you for the better. I want the treadmill of relationships.
I want the treadmill of church involvement sometimes too. I want to just volunteer when it is convenient and do just what I want to do, when I want to do it, being careful not to be too dependable. Not really get involved in the hard work of community but rather be able to slip out unnoticed.
I also take the “treadmill” way out of life. Let me let you in one of life’s little secrets….BEING AN ADULT IS HARD! And it never seems to get easier. Whether you are dealing with your own sickness or the sickness of those you love, cleaning your house, paying the bills, worrying about whether you will have enough for retirement, taking care of the things around your house that need fixing and maintaining, dealing with the triumphs and disappointments of work…..Sometimes all of that makes me want to take the easy way out. I don’t want to hit the pavement, I want the road to rise and meet me and because there are so many “pavement” moments in my life I sometimes take the easy way out.
There is something to be said for balance and giving yourself grace when you need it. But in a world where we can take the easy way out, sometimes we have to hold our own feet to the fire…or the pavement as the case may be. We have to dive in when we’d rather just splash our feet in the warm shallow end. We have to get messy when we’d rather stay clean.
Otherwise….we wind up avoiding our own lives. Living life solely on a treadmill isn’t really life at all….