What an interesting year 2016 was. So many changes in my life. So many tough things, some of which got better, others which got worse.
But a very important thing happened in 2016. Something I never expected. Something that kind of sneaked up on me. Something that's changed me for the rest of my life.
In 2016, I became a runner.
In a nutshell, I'd been unhealthy for years. All kinds of medical struggles. They weren't dangerous, just life-inhibiting. In 2014 some things changed in my life which improved my physical and mental health. More changes happened in 2015, which enabled me to begin walking. Really walking. For miles and miles and miles. With zero intention of running. Zero desire to run.
Until my third 5k. I'd done my first one entirely walking, except those last 20 yards; gotta push across the finish line, right? My second one, I added just a little running here and there. Basically just enough to beat my time from my first one. By the time I got to my third one, I knew I'd have to run a significant amount to improve my time. This was all in the summer and fall of 2015.
I think I ran about a third of that last one - run until you can't breathe, walk until your heart stops pounding to the point you think it will explode, repeat. It was incredibly difficult. I couldn't walk the few blocks home, because I'd injured myself by pushing so hard. And I remember thinking in that moment, "I want to run!"
It took several months of resting a little, going back to it too soon, injuring myself again before I really took healing myself seriously.
At the end of 2015, a year of HEALing, it was time to choose a new word. I don't do New Year's resolutions. I choose one word. One word to guide my year. Sometimes it's a lot of work to choose my word. I have so many ideas run through my head. Several of them would fit. God and I have to talk it over for a while before I settle on one.
Last year wasn't like that. I immediately knew what I wanted. I wanted RUN. I wanted to run! But I fought it. It seemed like such a narrow focus. How could it possibly govern my year? How could it affect my spiritual life? How could I use it to govern my relationships? How shallow a word was that to choose?!
But when I took it to God, He said it was perfect! I still didn't know how it would play out, but I trusted it would.
I am a runner.
Let me say that again - I AM A RUNNER!
I don't run fast or far, but I run. And I love it! I never, ever thought about running before. In fact, I mocked my friends who ran. Why would I torture myself like that? But then I did it.
Running makes me feel powerful. Running makes me feel cleansed. Running makes me feel free. Running makes me feel alive! Running is and does so many things.
In years past, when I've reviewed my year through the eyes of that One Word, I've looked at the ways it had an impact on all those individual areas of my life. When I chose RUN as my word, I expected to look back and see how I let it inspire me to RUN to Jesus or RUN to or from this or that. But it didn't. And I've learned something.
I've learned that God doesn't compartmentalize. I do. I'm the one who sees my physical health, emotional health, financial health, relational health, mental health, spiritual health, etc. separately. God sees me.
I've learned that any progress in a positive direction is spiritual progress. Because everything is spiritual. I am a spiritual being, so my entire life experience is spiritual.
Progress in a positive direction makes me more whole. Running makes me more whole. God knew that. And He knew that it was good.