on getting half way and holding on to hope

I’ve been running again.
It’s the best stress relief after sitting at a desk for the majority of my day.
I only do five kilometres, which takes just under 30 minutes.
I plug in my earphones, make sure my sneakers are laced up tight, close the gate behind me, and start jogging. At first, my legs feel heavy. Instantly I wonder how on earth I’m going to be able to make it the whole five. In my head I’m already working out a shorter route, the one that’ll take me home quicker, the one that’s only maybe three and a half, not five.

My heavy legs pound the pavement and I turn up my podcast or audiobook—I always run with something like this, I need the distraction, the focus on something other than how awful it feels as my legs turn to jelly and my chest burns (I’m definitely no athlete).
Something happens after a little while though, and I find I’m not thinking about running anymore, I’m just running.
By about 800 meters I can see the ocean, and by 900 I’m running alongside it.
It looks different every day and I can divert my mind from my sharp breathing with cloud formations, and the silky blues of the ocean as I try to spot the fins of dolphins across the surface. My face and neck develops a thin layer of sweat, and as the air hits, cools the warmth of my face, which I know is pulsing beetroot red.

There’s a half way point that’s marked by metal bars on the footpath.
At that point I can either keep going, as the path takes me home the short way, knowing I’ve copped out of the whole five kilometres. Or I can turn around, and go back the 2.5 it took me to get there.
I’ve been turning around. Almost every time lately, I slow slightly, take it wide and loop around those metal bars without stopping. The direction of the wind changes, and forces my ponytail to the front of my shoulder. I adjust my hair and carry on, knowing now that I’ve gone too far to change my mind. There’s only one option now, and that’s running until I get all the way back home, holding nothing back.

Running is a head-game.
The minute I tell myself I can’t, I won’t.
If I don’t let myself consider the can’t option, then I can, and I do, make it home fast.
Imagine how good I’ll feel when I’m done. I’ll be one step closer to that fitness goal.
In fifteen minutes the pain will be over. Look at your capacity—once upon a time you couldn’t even make it to the next streetlight. Imagine when you can go for forty minutes.
Those thoughts keep me buoyant. One foot goes in front of the other and I don’t stop.

Life is a head-game too.
And hope-thoughts keep me buoyant, putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s so tempting to stop sometimes isn’t it? It’s tempting to take the short road—the easier one that doesn’t have as many benefits. Some days, it’s harder to block out the thoughts that come and tell you that you can’t. Some days you believe that you can’t, and that giving up is the only option.

Buoyancy. I believe we were designed to live light.

Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life… For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.*

And one of the ways I stay in that place of less worry, less anxiety, is by making sure I’m winning that head-game.
Just like when I run, I refuse to consider the idea that maybe I can’t.
Just like when I run, I focus on beauty instead of the pain I might be feeling.
And just like when I run, I don’t stop when I’m half way—I hold on to hope.

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.**

xx

* Matthew 11:28-30 TPT
** Isaiah 40 MSG

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