I look like crap when I run. I don’t mean when I’m chasing after a well-timed ball or a midfielder, when I step into a magical place of fleet-footed form and fox-like swiftness. I mean when I go out for a few miles of pavement. I’ve never had a running coach work with me to improve my form, so I just sort of point myself in one direction or another and go. It seems that every step falls harder than the last one and my face turns a color of red that was never meant for faces. Every block passed seems to see my hair getting more and more crazy, as each follicle struggles to get off the ride. On really long distances, you can actually begin to see salt build up, like hard water stains in a sink that’s seen a few too many toothbrushes since the last time it was cleaned.
The thing is, when I’m out for a run, I’m not really thinking about how I look. I don’t really care. That’s not what I’m running for. When I run, my mind wanders even further than my feet take me. I usually spend the time praying or just talking to myself (in my head – I don’t want to look crazy, too!). Often, lessons and messages come into shape while I run. Sometimes, songs or blog posts are written internally to the staccato cadence of my steps. Big decisions are weighed and options analyzed for possible outcomes. Occasionally, as it has been lately, the weight of these options is temporarily suspended as I run – as if the run creates its own gravity, allowing me to just move and breathe and think.
What’s peculiar for me in all of this is how, in just about every other area of my life, I hate for people to see the process. The process is messy and cluttered and unfiltered and sometimes ugly. The process is painful and risky. I want people to see finished products. Don’t watch me halfway through the marathon, talk to me after I’ve finished and showered away the salt licks and can hold up the finisher’s medal. (The red face takes a while to fade, so I won’t make you wait that long.)
But life doesn’t always work that way. Youth ministry doesn’t work that way. It’s a messy process, in which solo artists who refuse to let anyone collaborate in the clutter get very little traction.
Who do you need to allow into your process?
How can I give you entry into mine?