Run no. 18 – Reluctant running

love hate running

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’ 51”

I don’t know if it just me that experiences this. But some mornings I open my eyes and the sun is shining, I feel full of energy and I just can’t wait to pull on my running shoes and get out there.

It feels natural, it feels right, it feels like an expression of my core identity, it is what I really, really want to do.

Some days it is not like that.

I lie in bed and feel twinges in my body and manage to convince myself that running would likely cause a serious injury. I feel tired and tell myself that running now would leave me exhausted for the rest of the day. Everything in me is saying “No! Don’t do this!”

So I cajole myself, I force myself, I shame myself in whatever way I can, to motivate myself into getting up and going out; for it feels like the very last thing I want to do.

I do this because I understand that though my feelings towards running change radically, the benefits that running brings me don’t.

Running is always good for me – psychologically, physically and even spiritually – whether I feel good about it or not.

And when I do make it across the doorstep, I know it will be fine; I may even enjoy it. Once I’m actually running, my feelings about running may well change and become a lot more positive.

In a similar vein, I remember seeing some scientific research a few years ago that said that if you pretend to be friendly to someone towards whom you do not feel friendly feelings, you will actually start to feel friendlier towards them.

Pretending leads to becoming.

I have to force myself to pretend to like running when I’m not feeling it. And this act of pretence may well even help me to genuinely feel those positive feelings towards running again.

There are many areas of life where pretending things that we’re not feeling is the absolutely right thing to do.

In any long-term relationship the romantic feelings come and go. Tiredness, illness, stress etc. can all have a detrimental effect on the warm loving feelings we feel towards our partner. However, we know that saying “I love you” even when you don’t feel it is vitally important. Love is a commitment and if any relationship is to survive long-term it is commitment that must be its foundation, not transitory feelings.

As a parent, I comfort my children in their distress whether I feel like it or not. I well remember one night when in the wee small hours our infant son threw up over me as I picked him up out of his cot. I remember the sinking feeling as I knew I had an hour’s clear up, bed-making and showering before me, and the prospect of work in only a few hours. But I also knew that whatever I felt, I must act in accordance with parental love – a love I wasn’t feeling too strongly at that moment!

In the spiritual life, pretending is also a key activity.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.[1]

for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.[2]

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.[3]

In the mystery of walking with God, our transformation into what we should be is both effected by our active participation and God’s divine Spirit at work in us.

We know that we do not yet feel continuously loving, joyful, peaceful, forbearing, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled; but we are required to pretend; to act as if we did. In some mysterious way this act of will, in cooperation with the Spirit of God in us, leads to our genuine transformation.

We will not ever become perfect in this, this side of eternity. But the more we pretend to things we do not fell, the close we shall become.

Pretending is the way to make it real.

[1] Colossians 3:12 NIV

[2] Galatians 3:27 NIVUK

[3] Galatians 5 :22-24 NIVUK

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