Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NRSV)
I love to run. I’m not fast but I enjoy it. Running keeps my heart and body strong. It also provides space for me to work out my stress. There is something about my body working while my mind is also processing. I usually run in the morning, which allows me to pray and reflect on the day to come. Because I like to run long distances, there is also time for my mind to just wander. People, events, ideas flow through my mind as companions on my runs.
But not right now.
Last month, I started to notice a pain in my foot. If you run or exercise a lot, there is often some soreness that accompanies your days (especially as I get older). Being responsible, I iced after my long runs. Feeling like my foot was slipping a bit in my shoes, I purchased another pair. But the pain didn’t go away; it got worse.
This is my favorite time of year to run. There is still sunshine and a little warmth but very little humidity (I actually typed “humility” at first, hmmm…). I’m very fast in the fall. I was having some great runs. Because I have another half marathon coming up at the end of October, I was doing a run of at least ten miles each week. And I felt great – except for the ever-increasing pain in my right foot.
I finally decided I probably needed to rest it, so I limited myself to two runs each week. Ice was no longer cutting it, and the pain was staying with me throughout the day. My last run was 11.5 miles, and my foot hurt most of the way. I rested it four days but when my friend and I went out to run, I made it a few steps when I knew I needed to stop. The pain was too sharp and too intense. I made an appointment that day to finally go to the doctor.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing… – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (NRSV)
Two physicians later, I’m scheduled for an MRI tomorrow. I didn’t want to go to the doctor because I knew they would tell me to stop running. It took an awful lot of pain for me to finally tell myself that I probably needed to stop running. I’m now in a place where I can’t run, bike (with toe clips) or do yoga until we have some answers. And the best answer I can hope for at this point is a ligament sprain. (The doctor’s observation: “There are a lot of ligaments that meet here in the foot, and they are pretty important.”) OK, I need to take this seriously.
I don’t want a serious injury to my foot, but these are all the things I do to stay healthy physically and emotionally!
My first thought when the doctor said I needed an MRI (after, this is going to be expensive) was, “I’m not going to be able to run again until it’s COLD outside.” I’m missing fall running. I’m missing running with my friend. I’m missing my race at the end of the month. And I may soon be missing my marbles! There was no rejoicing although there were some quick prayers for a healing miracle.
…give thanks in all circumstances… – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NRSV)
I’ll say right now, that I realize this isn’t cancer or death or the many other terrible things I know people are struggling with. This isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. But it does fill me with dread as I feel stress well up in me without the ability to go out for a run or a bike ride or yoga. And this is not something I want to labor with right now.
Someone asked me last week what might happen if I thanked God for this injury. Could I find a way to be grateful each day? I don’t think what Paul or this person was suggesting was that I be thankful I’m injured but rather in the midst of this circumstance what about it can I give thanks.
I have had friends who have offered me support because they know running is about more than just running for me. Friends have offered passes to the gym so I can swim for exercise. Dave brought the stationary bike upstairs and put it in front of a window. I can now make appointments before 10:00 in the morning because I don’t need to fit yoga or a run in first. I can give thanks that my foot is wonderfully made and that God has created our bodies to heal.
It’s hard to give thanks as I look out the window at a beautiful, sunny fall day. I haven’t run in two weeks and my foot isn’t hurting right now. Maybe it’s better….
But it’s not. I still need to rest it. I still need to find out what’s wrong. I will still need to follow the healing strategies the doctor gives me. Once again, I find myself in another unexpected Sabbath.
Over the last two weekends, Dave and the boys have built me a labyrinth as an ordination present. It is literally a labor of love because it involved clearing trees and roots, hauling rocks, and spreading mulch. And it’s beautiful. So today, I am going to give thanks for the sun and for the love of my family and spend time outside at my labyrinth.
Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NRSV)