In a previous post, I shared about how much I hate running. It’s not that I hate the idea of running, I just HATE that I’m not any good at it. Once, I was running a 5k and every single 60 or 70 year-old in the no-matter-how-slow-you-gorace passed right by.

I see people jogging through my neighborhood early in the morning or evening, just cruising along at their stupid seven minute mile pace. I just watch them float by…and sigh. Most of them make it look so easy, don’t they? I longingly gaze that the runners who streak by wearing their coordinated top and bottoms, swanky iPod arm band and Bose earbuds. I figure if they can run that well, they deserve to look that fancy.

Then there’s me…

Now, I’ve got great shoes. I learned quickly that bad shoes make for bad running. My clothes. No-so- fabulous. My friends, 54% of the time I am running in my pajamas. Now you know. I use the Nike Running app (but I live in fear that I might accidently post my run results to social media. I’d almost rather tell you how much I weigh over my average mile time. Wait. That was probably an exaggeration. Well…uhmmm…yes, it was.)

Starting the run, my first 1/4 mile is always AWESOME! I feel great – almost like those super-striders I hate admire so much. But, by the two-mile mark, I am pitiful. And my self-talk is pitiful, too. Just try not to die on Monroe Street during the 7:45am rush-hour traffic. Stumble over to that side street and then keel over. In those doubtful moments, I focus on the basics: proper breathing, using my arms and proper stride. I just keep doing those basics over and over again. And eventually, I always make my way back home.

Living out my faith sometimes feels like my morning run.

There are days when I am flying high – it’s me and God taking on the world! I love that feeling. I read my Bible and every promise soaks right into my heart and mind. I radiate love, joy, peace and all of the rest. In those moments, I glide through the hours of the day with the hope that every day could feel like that.

But, the other days…

Days when I feel like I am on Monroe Street running in rush-hour traffic. So much is coming at me and I don’t feel like I am strong enough to keep going. Sometimes, I don’t want to keep going…

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This is a picture of me and my shadow on Monroe Street at the point when my run is at its toughest. Yet, I love how shadows always make me look skinny…

When we get weary and we get tired, our brains go into survival mode. Higher-level thinking and reasoning takes a backseat to basic functions, like breathing. That’s why we get paralyzed and confused when we struggle under tremendous stress.

During those times in my faith life, my prayers are short and desperate: “God, help me”…”God, I hate the way I feel, help me”…”Help me.”

God is okay with us sending out that prayer. He definitely wants us to send out that prayer instead of trying to fix the unfixable on our own. But, there’s something more…

Just like I have to focus on the basics – good breathing, using my arms, proper stride – when I am at a tough place in my run, I also have to focus on the basics when I am at a tough place in my faith.

Living out (or walking) by faith is as much over a “how” as it is a “what.” So, here are the basics that I try to remember – maybe these will help you:

1. Love God, love others – This basic command is contained in many verses in the New Testament (Mark 12:29-31 and others). What does it mean to love God? Obedience. Easy to know…hard to do. God knows what we need, we just have to do it so that we can receive what we truly need to live and thrive.  Loving others is about being generous with our heart – which leads to generosity with our time, our energy and even our money.

2. Focus on todayMatthew 6:34 reminds us that tomorrow’s problems cannot be our concern. God’s already got tomorrow – but we’ll be in a much better position to handle tomorrow if we focus on what God is calling us to do today.

3. Don’t worry and give thanksPhilippians 4:6 is a rock-star verse. How much of our lives do we spend freaking out? But, when we force ourselves to list out (even write out) what we are grateful for, then we experience the promise at the end of this verse: God’s peace which far exceeds the pitiful, fragile peace we try to secure on our own.

4. Don’t isolate!…Galatians 6:2 reminds us that we have to reach out to each other. Tell someone you are struggling. Our brains need oxygen, glucose and relationships to survive!* So, speak up and live!

I thought maybe I would mention that this blog came from my own personal journal this week. Since I was struggling in this area, I figured a few other folks might be as well. So, if you’d like to share verses or thoughts that help you walk by faith, feel free to post them here for others to read or on my Facebook page.

 *reference: Dr. Henry Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders – great book!

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