I don’t know what I was thinking.
Last Wednesday, I just stood up, put my running shoes on and ran a 5k. I hadn’t run a 5k since we lived in France almost a year ago. I hadn’t run more than a mile at one time in 5 solid months.
And I up and decided to just run a 5k. I had to prove to myself that I could still do it.
After running a marathon, the thought of a 5k still seemed on the easy side… but there is the other part of me that knows every single mile is fought for, worked for and potentially the one that makes you feel like you are about to die.
1 mile, 3 miles, 10 miles… every runner knows that the skill to building longer runs is remembering how hard that first mile can be. How challenging that first 5k feels in the moment… the thought that running a 26.2 is completely impossible all while training to do just that. Fighting for the ability, the strength and the mental fortitude to just run one more mile.
The determination to keep running is found in remembering just how hard it is to run, pushing to battle the miles ahead and mastering the strain that comes with every pound of a foot on pavement.
I did it, that 5k. I pushed through the humidity, the yucky treadmill, my lack of stamina… I ran that 5k.
And in the running, I walked a fine line.
The fine line of pushing and pushing too hard. of hurting but not stopping. of counting the minutes but going for more. of feeling the exhaustion but refusing to lower the speed or shorten the goal.
The fine line of building breathing capacity, muscle memory, good form and mental fortitude while feeling tired, unprepared and completely not ready.
Running and training are constantly worked out on this very fine line.
Not feeling like it but running anyway.
Slight injury and figuring out where to stop, when to run.
Hint of pain while pushing forward to hit a goal.
Since that first 5k last week, I’ve ran 5 more.
Pounding out the miles on a treadmill while pretending I’m running along La Coulée Verte in Paris.
And with that beautiful picture in my head, once again, running has helped me process something. a BIG something. Another “fine line” something.
The fine line of disappointment. hurt. anger. grief. frustration. loneliness.
I’ve had a few conversations lately with friends all over the globe who are walking some tough situations. By email or facebook, some of you have poured out your own fine line.
Like you, we’ve faced our own share of tough situations over the past few years. Life is full of TOUGH situations.
One friend specifically asked me, “How do you do it? How do you walk through?”
I simply said, “I don’t know… I’m learning it too.”
I’m learning this very fine, fine line.
The fine line of handling situations correctly, prayerfully, thoughtfully, and rightly without pride or anger.
The fine line of standing up for myself, our family, my faith, our lives and our calling without forgetting to turn the other cheek or extend grace.
The fine line of teaching, helping, correcting without adding any fire to the flame or causing hurt to grow.
The fine line of talking it out, having hard conversations, bringing light to difficult things without just reopening wounds or bringing up past wrongs.
The fine line of choosing strength and the highroad without building walls around my heart or pushing feelings aside.
To fully feel, fully express, fully deal with situations while maintaining love, grace, submission, peace and forgiveness.
It is a very fine line to walk. Some days it feels infinitely small…
To not take everything personally while still being sensitive and soft-hearted.
To not overreact while still allowing my emotions to help me gauge my inner health.
To not act on emotions but to prayerfully respond as God wants, in His timing not my own.
Oh, the skills it takes to walk that fine line.
The skill of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.
The skill of walking in love.
The skill of holding back the tongue.
The skill of speaking with salt.
The skill of being ready to answer.
The skill of knowing when and who to answer.
The skill of thinking on things that are good, holy, right and true.
Just like each mile ran, the skills of walking the fine line between godly character, right heart motives and loving actions are fought for, worked for and have the potential to make you feel like you are going to die.
The tearful battle to know how to act, what to do, what to say, how to say it.
The complete trust and faith it takes to set the whole situation in God’s hands and walk away with integrity.
I still don’t know that I can answer my friend fully.
Walking the thin line of great disappointment or unexpected pain is hardcore, universal and will test everything you think you have already learned in your walk with Jesus. Walking the line of being wronged will show you where you’ve grown and where you’ve yet to sprout new green shoots. Unfortunately, like blank space, there is no way through but through.
To just keep going…
Ask for help, find a prayer partner, seek God’s face, journal… let God speak into you before you take one single step on that fine line.
I wrote a post a few years ago called Parenting with Skillful Hands.
Here is a portion from that post…
“Only by allowing myself to be trained by the God of the universe can I be ready for that kind of battle. Only by God. Psalm 144:1 says, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” He trains our hands for war. He even is so detailed to train our fingers for the battle. He wants us to be skilled in what we do and He is willing to train us in the art of battle. Amazing. David was up against war many times for the nation of Israel. He allowed himself to be trained and crafted into who God needed him to be for those battles. Psalm 78:72 says, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” That was God-trained in David. He had integrity in his heart and skillful hands to lead.”
We need that exact same thing as we walk the fine line of a pure heart in the midst of crazy tough situations.
The battle to keep our hearts from harboring bitterness, hurt, anger, pride and self-righteousness takes incredibly skillful hands that are trained for war.
I don’t know what tough situation you are facing. What hurt has come your way. What thing in your life feels out of control, unexpected, disappointing or too hard to handle.
I don’t know what is making you think, “I didn’t know it would be like this…” or “Why did that happen?” or “How could they do that?” or “This is a whole lot harder than I thought…”
But God knows. And He has prepared YOU for this moment.
Life is not just cake after all…
He will prepare your hands and help you lead with skillful hands. He will give you the exact skills you need to walk the fine line of faith as you keep your eyes on Him.
And with each mile that goes by, you’ll find your faith, your trust, your hope and your heart will have grown in huge ways. You’ll see your strength, your skills and your character bloom in ways that only God could orchestrate.
We are all walking the fine line together, finding our footing and asking God to lead as He lights our path.
Let’s encourage each other along the way…