There's this reoccurring dream I have had throughout my life, and it's wonderful. The setting is always a little bit different, but the feeling is the same: I am running; running long distances, and sort of gliding over the air, as though there was an elliptical under my feet instead of ground. In my dream, I am always amazed at how easy it is, delighted that I have unlocked the secret that all those other runners must experience when I see them effortlessly bouncing by. I love that dream.
I have mentioned before that I am not exactly a natural athlete. I am sure that I must be missing something, because when I have tried jogging, it is simply not the experience that other people are having. It's like there are magnets in my feet, and I am trying to gracefully trot over a metal sidewalk. I usually make it a humiliating couple of blocks, feel like I'm going to puke, and turn around in disgrace. It's terrible.
I am told that if I were to stick with it, it would get easier. Maybe that's true, but when I feel like death after less than 5 minutes, I have to admit it's just not very motivating. Give me a yoga mat, and a peppy little instructor in my TV, and I'm happy working out in the privacy of my own living room. I will never experience the personal triumph of running a marathon, but I can fit into my jeans, and that's good enough for me.
About a month ago, I had this perspective & vision & insight into my own heart & the way that I am living my life. I wanted to make a change in my daily habits, living more openly & generously, releasing my comforts and really following Jesus into loving my neighbor as myself. I knew it would be one of those things that didn't come easily, but that was too important to let go. So, I decided to go about a 40day [vegan] fast, focusing on prayer, examining my heart, making intentional steps to live more openly, and the like.
A few days into it, I shared my thoughts & vision with our staff team, and invited them to join me in fasting & praying. That night, half our team came down with a stomach flu so violent that it made 6wks of Ugandan parasites & 9mos of pregnant nausea seem like a cake walk. I won't go into details, but I can never remember being so sick in my life-- and neither could our unfortunate staff. About a week later, I shared our vision with our students, and after poorly communicating what was on my heart, ended up hurting & offending several people, causing a huge rift, drama, pain & conflict. Chris & I started fighting over the dumbest little things, so angry at each other that we couldn't be in the same room. Our toddler got sick again, and we stayed up most of the night listening to him coughing to the point of vomiting. I can't even remember what happened after that, but you get the picture.
Each time I hit a road block, I got the feeling that I was heading the right direction, and that the opposition was trying to keep me from getting there. I'm not talking creepy Poltergeist type movies complete with a soundtrack, but the real, everyday Good-verses-Evil struggle that we so often forget about. There's a line in this great 90's movie that says "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist". In those moments when you try to stand up and really create change, you can expect to run smack into a wall, and I don't believe that's a coincidence.
I am less than a week away from completing my 40day fast. It's kind of funny that when the big, obvious road blocks came up along the way, I actually felt more motivated to press on. But something happened in the last week or so: the stomach flu was gone, the conflict more or less resolved, we were sleeping through the night again... and I started running out of steam. The other day, I just crammed a brownie into my mouth (it wasn't even good-- it was 4days old, and I wasn't hungry at all), not caring about my fast, not feeling motivated to change the world, or even think slightly visionary thoughts. Over it.
My mind was filled with thoughts of defeat, futility, and a dragging desire to just let go & rest. I thought about all the praying & talking I had done, and realized that I hadn't really changed any of my habits, or made one tangible step to "open my doors".
It felt like the difference between dreaming of running, and actually trying to run. I get these grand visions of saving the world-- like Frodo gripping the ring and marching off in the direction of Mordor-- and after a few blocks I'm ready to turn back.
From what I'm told, the best thing to do in those moments is to push yourself to run just one more block... and to go back the next day & do the same thing. I've never really tried it, but supposedly, after a week or so, your body starts cooperating & you get into a groove.
It's tempting to stop now, to admit defeat. But I'm going to try to make it one more block...