Originally published Wednesday, 16 November 2016.
THE TIME MY BEST EFFORT LOOKED LIKE SKETCH COMEDY
Huffin’ and puffin’ like an old wolf from a fairytale. I wiped the perspiration from this 40-something-red-hot-face as my lungs finally allowed themselves to take in a deep one. I let it out, along with a sigh of relief. I had done my best! Yes, a two-and-a-half-mile-summertime-run in Florida will make you feel both alive and dead—at the same time. (I just love that I used all those hyphens in the first paragraph alone. Right or wrong–you know how I love those!)
I went about the rest of my day with vigor (after my recovery, which included one hot shower, two iced knees, three Tylenol, and jugs of water). I had a sense of achievement and was pleased I’d pushed myself to run yet again that same week, even with an injured tailbone. I didn’t time myself, but I was pleased with the pace and distance. I felt like it probably was a time to be proud of.
So imagine my surprise when my dad told me he’d seen me running that morning, and—ahem—called my run a “mere shuffle, not even a jog.”
A mere shuffle? Really?
This is from a man whose only experience or familiarity with ANY FORM of running consists of frequent bee-lines to the nearest bathroom, courtesy of an overactive prostate!
Okay, so I was probably a little insulted. (I’m not really sure my being offended will shine through in this particular piece of writing, so I just want to be transparent right up front!)
So my dad and I don’t agree on what exactly a shuffle is, I suppose. His definition is obviously,
different than mine.
For clarity, here’s the definition of the word shuffle as per the writers who KNOW the meaning of words and put them in a humongous book my dad most certainly hasn’t read:
Simple Definition of shuffle
- to slide your feet along the ground or back and forth without lifting them completely
Thank you, Mr. Webster, for clearing that up!
Look, I get it! I won’t be setting any world records. But, just for the record, I was most definitely not sliding my feet along the ground! And, did I mention the busted tailbone, which I received earlier this year because I was running too hard?
Yes, you can actually injure your tailbone from running, believe it or not. Google says so. You don’t believe me, do you?
Okay, I admit I may be offended. Still. I’m working through it, as evidenced by my current reading of The Bait of Satan: Living Free of the Deadly Trap of Offense.
Now, I mean no disrespect to my dad—ever mindful of Deuteronomy 5:16 and Ephesians 6:2—but as great as he is, he’s no encourager—never has been. So it really shouldn’t have taken me by surprise. And his insult shouldn’t have bothered me like it did. I mean, I’m in my forties, for goodness sake! But itreally did bother me—in case you haven’t picked up on it yet.
Well, I quit running.
That was MONTHS ago!
Every time I tried, I’d think of what He had said. And there was a part of me that asked myself, “Then, why even bother, Renee?”
I’d try to jog a little on the treadmill here at home now and then—oh, wait, maybe it was a shuffle??? And since I brought it up (yet again), let’s just stop right now (yet again) and further clarify (yet again) why I’m TOTALLY sure I was NOT, that’s N.O.T. not shuffling.
This guy shuffles, not me:
(So, I’m totally dating myself here (yet again). That’s a scene from my favorite TV program as a kid, The Carol Burnett Show—for you young whippersnappers out there who have no idea who the “oldest man” (Tim Conway) is! BTW, why don’t we have these kinds of shows anymore?)
Now there should be no room for misinterpretation. We’re all clear on who was doin’ the shufflin’ and who wasn’t, right? Give me a thumbs-up or something, just so I’m sure we’re all on the same page and I can finish this blog post. Please?
Thank you, sweet lady. You know a real shuffle when you see it, don’tcha?!
Where were we? Oh, yeah. I was talking about my favorite pastime of publically humiliating myself. Here we go…
But as far as getting out there on the sidewalk, putting my face to the wind and my Asics on the pavement for all to see? For all to judge? Nope. I’d rather just shuffle in hiding.
Then I quit doing even that. Why bother, right?
Isn’t that how it is sometimes, friend? Don’t we try our hardest, do our best, and think we’re finally getting somewhere, only to have someone else point out our flaws, our not-good-enoughs, our shortcomings—our shuffles in life?
And sometimes those doing the pointing are closest to us. And we may even be offended and hurt. And that shuts us down.
Let’s get real here for a sec and just put it out there, K?
Some of us are just trying to put one foot in front of the other, trying to make it through the day. Trying to gain some ground.
Trying not to
flat on our faces!
Trying to get somewhere, gain some ground. Trying to be ALL we can be. Trying to rise to the occasion. Trying to feel a sense of accomplishment. Trying to measure up, while trying to stay grounded. Trying to traverse the terrain, no matter how uneven or unstable or unfair. Trying to move fast enough, surefooted enough, graceful enough. Trying to run at the speed of life, while trying to stand firm in our convictions.
And truth is, maybe that’s the issue after all. Maybe we’re trying too hard, friend.
Maybe we’re not relying on Him as much as we should. Maybe we’re trying to do it all ourselves.
Trying to be perfect. Trying to look the part. Trying to be invulnerable. Trying to keep a stiff upper lip, while trying to keep our eyes from leaking like a sieve. Trying to appear self-sufficient, like we’ve got it all together…
So let’s just stop all this trying, shall we?
Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. Galatians 6:9
I’m not talking about giving up or giving in.
I’m talking about giving it over. Giving it over to Him. Because HE is able.
Whaddaya say? How ‘bout…
You quit all that exhausting trying you’ve been doing. You give it all to Him and go on with Him. You go on with your shaky, unsteady, wobbly legs (that you probably haven’t had time to shave in months).
And should you trip? Should you lose your footing, as we all do? Fall if you must. But fall on your knees in prayer to Him. And He will lift you. You will rise because He is able. Because the Strengthener is within you.
So you lift your heart and head and bring up the rear, sweet lady! You crawl with the best of them if that’s what it comes down to! But you do it all for Him and in Him and in His strength. You go on out there today. No matter who’s watching. Be a witness of His faithfulness and a testimony to His strength and grace, no matter what the odds say.
We all shuffle together, crawl together, walk together, and run together at some point in life, don’t we? Though we may be hurt or unsure or maybe even offended, let’s help each other remember that we don’t have to let the words and actions of another human dictate how we act, react, or feel about ourselves. So let’s go on out there on the journey with Him and do the hard stuff no matter what—no more shuffle in hiding.
I did that today; I got back out there. And I’m gonna get back out there tomorrow. And I’m gonna keep shufflin’ right along that skinny sidewalk with a fat smile on my red-hot face. And I’m gonna keep shufflin’ right along on the hardest of days, the days when the enemy would have me turn tail and run limp away.
BUT FOR HIS GRACE.
Friend, on those days when you yearn to be a gazelle but are reduced to a slow crawl, forget about what it looks like to those around you, even to an earthly daddy. Because what really matters is the work of your Heavenly Daddy in you. And He yearns to see you finish and finish well.
He will give you what it takes to do the hard stuff today, tomorrow, each and every day…
Even on those days when you’re mistaken for Tim Conway!