Over the years I've documented here my struggle to make wellness a lifestyle, trying not to treat balanced eating and more activity as a punishment but a choice I embrace. It has been very difficult as I don't not have a natural affinity for it, nor an upbringing in that lifestyle, but I have realized one thing and that is my attitude towards it makes a world of difference.
When I picked up jogging again last summer I passed quite a few other athletes on my favored path, one obvious observation was that they were much better than me, not that it concerned me, but one thing I observed did.
They all looked like they were not enjoying their run.
They looked like I felt.
And it struck me, I don't want to be out here looking like I hate this.
To me it stands to reason that if my emotion indicator (face) appears as if I hate this, then maybe to some degree my subconscious will receive that is how I feel.
And I don't hate actually hate running. I hate that right now it's hard because I've abused my body with food and neglect. I hate that I waited so long my bones and joints are more resistant to impact and pressure at this age. I hate that I would rather have food than any other reward.
But I don't hate running.
Now I realize that a lot of runners have a look of concentration, or determination, some maybe in pain, and some may actually hate running but have their own reasons for doing it anyway. And I'm not a proponent of fake it until you make it. I don't want to run with a smile as part of a facade where I'm not being real with people.
Rather, I want to run with a smile on my face because I want to be joyful in every circumstance.
I've learned over the last year that joy is not an emotion, it is a choice.
It's like love is a choice. Love is associated with a lot of emotions but they don't define love for me, the closest thing to a definition of love I believe is devotion. And devotion is an action, not a feeling, and therefore it is a choice.
Like joy. Joy is associated with a lot of emotions but the best definition I've heard of joy is actually from the Greek term used in the Bible, it means grace recognized. It means I have joy because I choose to recognize how much I have been spared, how much I have to be grateful for.
I want to run out of that gratefulness that I CAN run, no matter how slow, no matter how painful. There are many, many reasons I've come to understand why I should be grateful I can even walk, never mind run.
Being joyful about running doesn't mean that it isn't hard, that I don't dislike parts of it, but it's a lot like life, life is hard, and I don't like parts of it, but I am so grateful I have the life I have.
So, how do I maintain that smile on my face while my knees and hips ache, my calves tighten up, and my lungs want to give up? Well, since I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, one of the ways I enjoy my run is to listen to revved up worship music - there is actually worship music available that speeds up the tempo so that it's upbeat enough to run to. So I run to songs that sing to me phrases like:
You make me brave No fear can hinder now
Breaking chains that were holding me
You have made my burden light You have brought me back to life again
You are with me in every step that I take
Tune our hearts into Your beat. Where we walk, there You'll be.
You healed my body and You made me new
We are more than conquerors
All I have is yours, every single breath
The song he heard gave him hope and strength to carry on