Doing What I Hate (and Loving It)

The days grow longer, the sun grows stronger, and we put away our textbooks and number two pencils. The grass needs mowing and the horses lose the last bits of their heavy winter hair, giving way to sleek, shiny new coats. The days grow hotter and we girls paint our toenails in honor of flip-flop season. Summer has arrived.

This morning I went running. I tumbled out of bed, after sleeping in for a delicious extra hour or two, and pulled on my old tennis shoes. Not long after, I was jogging across the road in front of my house and to the ranch driveway opposite. The rolling fields on either side of the dirt driveway are russet-colored…the grasses long and waving, dotted with yellow wildflowers. There were green, benevolent trees and hills surrounding me, and a beautiful azure sky above me. I jogged on, until I reached the end of that long driveway and touched the metal gate with my fingertips. Then I turned around for the jog back. The wind whipped through my hair and the sun was soft and caressing. I put my hand to my chest and felt my heart rate accelerating. I kept on until I reached the end…at a nice, leisurely pace. But at the very last, when I rounded the final bend and saw the road, I broke into a sprint until I reached the end. Then I stopped for a second and smiled. It felt good.

I used to hate running. I hated it so much that it was like the greatest trial of my life to pull on those hateful shoes and run (talk about a spoiled American kid). I never died or got close to it, but I still hated it because it wasn’t entertaining, it wasn’t fun, and it made me tired. There was nothing enjoyable about it, except being done.

It got a little better once I bought my iPod and listened to music as I ran. Still, my relationship with running was love-hate…and very, very sporadic.

Now, I’ve discovered that I like listening to my iPod with friends or on long, quiet car rides…but not while I’m running. I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be entertained or distracted in order to make myself do something I don’t like…and I can actually enjoy those minutes of quiet, away from everything else. I have never been a very good athlete…I am small and tend to get lost in crowd, and as a child, my ankles were so bad that I couldn’t walk long without them hurting badly, which still affects my running. But I know that my short runs in the mornings will help, and I like them now.

There was a point when I couldn’t imagine anything more ridiculous than to enjoy running. Now, I feel happy to have conquered that, at least a little bit. I’ve always liked walking and riding horses, and playing soccer or softball for fun with friends or on teams. But running makes me feel better; it strengthens me. Not only physically, but it helps me get over the idea that I can only do things that I like to do. Sure for a little while in the mornings I’m not doing my most favorite thing in the world, but I feel better for the rest of the day. It’s worth it.

If I play soccer this next season, I’ll be running like crazy, and there will be days when I’ll be tired, and I’ll want to quit. But if I strengthen myself now…make myself used to refuting to the idea that I have to stop because I’m tired…I’ll be ready for those quitter attitudes and I’ll have the mental muscles to kill them. I’ll be prepared. And not just in varsity soccer, but in life. When I do something I don’t like, it’s good for me. And when I do it over and over and over again, because I should, then that has the capacity to change me from the inside out.

You may run ten miles every day…it’s not a problem for you. But you may absolutely hate introducing yourself to people you don’t know. That is your challenge.

And you may be the most outgoing person around…friendly and easy and confident…but you struggle with reading the Bible every day. Your time with God just isn’t as strong and disciplined as it should be, and your relationship with Him is suffering because of it. So pick up your Bible and a Bible-in-a-year program, and stick to it. That is your challenge.

We all struggle with something. We’ll never be strong and perfect and impervious to human weaknesses and failings. That’s why we need Jesus Christ as our Savior. And with Him, we can conquer our pride and laziness and become better servants of His.

My runs aren’t very long (I won’t be going to a marathon anytime soon), but they’re a triumph to me. I still have other things to conquer…like my fear of man, and my hatred of algebra homework. That will come in time. I may never love math, but when I keep doing my work anyway, I’ll get used to it. When I keep consciously making the decision to look to God instead of man for approval, I’ll get stronger in Him. And He’ll give me “fullness of joy” in those decisions (Psalm 16:11). He made a deer cross my path today and sent a wind to play with my hair so that I would like running better. He knows how to reward me. He’s not asking that I like it.

He’s just asking that I do it.

This morning, as I ran, a beautiful doe crossed the road ahead of me. The sight of it just added to my inner peace and happiness, and I smiled. I thought…God must have sent that deer. It was like Christmas day, and He was giving me all these little gifts…the wind tossing my hair, the sweet smells of summer, the clear blue sky…because He loves me.

Keep serving Him, even in the things you don’t particularly enjoy. Quietly obeying Him brings blessings that we’ve never truly experienced before. What a sacrilege to believe that life in His service could be dull or miserable. It is sweet, and rich, and satisfying. And in even the littlest things He is capable of sending deer across our paths, and filling our fields with yellow wildflowers.

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Oh, Keely!
    How much I needed this today!
    I have a painting job to do, which I’ve been dreading for awhile. When my mom asked me to do it this morning, I complained, both inwardly and outwardly. I soon quit outwardly, but inside I’ve been griping all morning. Now I feel better about painting that deck because I’m not just doing it because I have to, but I’m going to paint for my Lord. He has given me these jobs at this time in my life (my family and I are remodeling our house), and He will be faithful to help me finish them if I will rely on Him and His strength to “rejoice evermore”.
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart to encourage others… and keep up the good work with this blog!
    M.R., a sister in Christ

  2. Keely, thanks so much for this post. It is heart-warming and inspiring.

    Faith

  3. Keely –
    This is the first time I’ve seen your blog – wow! what a God-honoring teenager you are! I felt very encouraged when you said “[running] helps me get over the idea that I can only do things that I like to do” I feel that i can only ‘do things I want to do’ but, in fact I’m lying to myself, thanks for inspiring me, and encouraging a different mindset! My God bless your work and effort for Him!
    In Christ,
    Sarah

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