The morning after our big move to Arizona, I laced up a brand new pair of sneakers and headed outside for a run. These new kicks had been purchased weeks before and then saved, like new shoes for the first day of school. These were for desert soil only.
My run, more like a jog or maybe more like limping, lasted about 30 minutes or so before I called it quits. I had survived, which was a pretty big deal, because running had never been my favorite. Throughout my entire life, I had never really found any good reason to run. As a matter of fact, I had found 1,000 reasons not to run. Piercing side cramps were on that list. Also, the sound of crisis in my lungs as I gasped and wheezed my way into a breathing pattern that would keep me oxygenated was a noise alarming enough to make anyone choose a brisk walk instead. And I have short legs – an undeniable disadvantage.
So why was I choosing to run? Simple – it was free and available. I was no longer a gym member and I was too broke to buy a gym pass (yeah, moving across the country takes a bit of cash), but my body was accustomed to a good, hard workout. Out of desperation, I had to give running another try. As weeks went on, I got faster, stronger, and my lungs adjusted more quickly. I discovered a little secret: the first 4 minutes are always the worst. My opinion on running was being redefined the easier it became – a result possible only because I had endured miles of discomfort.
This physical training paralleled my emotional and mental world. Adjusting to a new home was hard work. Making new friends, learning new roads, and establishing a new normal were difficult adjustments; much more challenging and time-consuming than a little exercise. There were days when I felt lost. And alone. These quiet days opened opportunities to reconnect with my Savior. Jesus and I established new routines and we enjoyed new adventures. My spiritual self was growing and changing. He was making me brand new.
Change requires a hefty amount of discipline and perseverance, and the ugly truth is, we often resist. We avoid trying new things or enduring hard work because both of these things are uncomfortable and they wear us out. We want progress, for sure, but not the discomfort it requires. The strength to endure the tough stuff is found only in Jesus Christ.
Every year, on December 15th, I open a box of brand new sneakers and go for a run to commemorate my 2011 moving day. It’s a tradition I have come to enjoy, not just because of the new shoes, although new shoes are always enjoyable. This occasion is like my early New Year’s Eve – a time to consider the progress in my body and in my soul. (Or if you prefer, in my soul and in my soles.)
A fresh start for all of us is just a few weeks away. What will your ‘brand new’ be? Whatever you hope for, I hope it’s a better relationship with your Savior most of all. This, and a lot more truth.