I started running again yesterday. Took the winter off because cold and I do not get along, but yesterday was gorgeous, so we (my kids and I are going to do it together!) had pinpointed it as “the day” to start. My routine didn’t cooperate with our plans, though, so we ended up leaving the house after dark to get our run in.
We discussed what we thought we could do reasonably for our first week, and decided we could skip ahead a few weeks and start on week four of a twelve-week program, alternating two minutes of running with two minutes of walking. Five sets for a total of twenty minutes.
My son is really athletic. My daughter and I … not so much. I mean, I do my best to get exercise in on a daily basis, but sometimes, it’s as simple as hanging the laundry outside and raking leaves. Not really a coordinated effort. And my daughter? Total couch potato.
So … it was dark and the three of us were starting out at completely different levels of activity.
We started out. My mind automatically created a path that would a.) last twenty minutes and not take us too far from home and b.) not have very many hills. I could still see my house when the complaining started. My son started complaining that we weren’t going fast enough. He showed me what he expected … it was a sprint. I said, “We are building endurance for long-distance running. We have to ease ourselves into this.” He was immediately unhappy. But it got worse.
At the bottom of the hill, we veered off the well-lit Main street. I guess I should tell you right here that my son wants to be a cop, and because of that, everyone out after dark is a suspect and has been “obviously” engaging in questionable activity. He’s a natural … The dimmer the street lights got, and the further apart, the madder he got. “We shouldn’t be running here, Mom. Look at these houses. Look at those people. Let’s get off the road and run back behind there so people can’t see us.”
“Dude, I want people to see me! I’m confident I can make a commotion while you get away of someone tries something.” I also laughed, because I was feeling like he was being a little absurd. I endured twenty minutes of this, and tried to downplay his fears, but he did not enjoy my sense of humor … it’s all I’ve got … Finally, fully exasperated, he said, “Mom! I hate it when you do this! Can’t you see I’m scared?”
My heart dropped. My poor son, who struggles daily with anxiety, was sincerely freaking out and I was not handling his fear well. I stopped jogging and said, “I’m so sorry. I wish you could trust me, that I wouldn’t willingly put you in danger. I don’t feel like we are in any danger, but I understand your concern. I would not have led you down a road I hadn’t already been down in the dark. I’ve been here before and I feel like it’s a safe place to run. Not only that, I have my keys in my hand (and I showed him how I had them positioned), and if anybody were to try something, I will use it as a weapon. Finally, we are not alone. God is with us. I trust God to keep us safe, or to keep us from endangering ourselves. Can you trust me?”
But all the time I was talking, I could hear echoes of his questions reverberating through my heart: “Can’t you see I’m scared!” All the arguing, all the bickering, all the complaining and disrespect just because my little man was scared …
I heard me in it. I heard all the ways I’ve approached God in prayer lately. All the complaining and disrespect I’ve dishonored Him with because of my own fears. And I saw the way I’ve felt lately. Like I’m heaping up punishment because of my utter disregard for His sovereignty. But I could not have put it in better words. “But God, can’t you see I’m scared?!”
I have felt lately like He is blowing off my concerns. Taking me down a dangerous path that honestly terrifies me, and He keeps moving in the opposite direction of what I consider to be safety and hope. It doesn’t make sense to me, so like a child, I question. I argue. I complain. But like a parent, He has said to me, “Can you trust me? I would not have taken you down this road if I thought you were unsafe. And I am capable of keeping you safe. I am your safeguard. I treasure you and I would not knowingly put you in harm’s way. I love you.”
And what He’s doing in me is building endurance. At a pace that doesn’t kill me, God is creating a life for me that builds my faith. My endurance under pressure. He’s also keeping me at a pace that doesn’t kill the people on this journey with me. We’re going to make it. Together.
I want to be able to run my race and be successful, and so God is training me everyday, using circumstances I would definitely not choose for myself. And asking me to trust Him. Because He is a good Father, I do. I don’t trust the road we are on. I don’t trust the darkness and the shady characters I find lurking in it. But I trust my Daddy.