Brand New: good, bad, and ugly (Part 3)

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Fun fact: Ask me the posted sunrise time any day of the year and I’ll likely be able to tell you the exact time, give or take a minute. Today happens to be the latest posted sunrise of the calendar year, making January the longest and most arduous month for a solar-powered personality like mine. I dread January. The sun and I have a pretty steady relationship, but come January, we are never on speaking terms.

I like being outside. Sunshine and going outdoors kind of go hand in hand. Actually, they definitely go hand in hand. Every time the sun is on full display, the same siren song of my childhood – the one that lured me outside to ride my bike or make tree forts in my grandparents’ backyard – plays just as loud a melody. Living in a city that boasts 300 sunny days a year makes my insides feel…well, sunny.

Stepping down from my position in the school cafeteria meant no job, less money, and therefore, still no gym membership. But I had my new-found running hobby, consistently nice weather, and more time to go outside, so I took to the open roads of the Wild West.

I believe variety is the spice of life, but when it came to exercise time, I almost always ended up at the same stretch of road – a straight piece that leads to nowhere, dead ends marking its start and its finish. I dubbed it ‘nature’s treadmill’. Nestled against an untamed desert dotted with shrubs, I found peace and quiet and an unobstructed view of the beautiful Superstition Mountains towering in the distance. It still takes my breath away. This short strip of asphalt was my new sanctuary.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against gyms, but I hadn’t before realized how much my former fitness club had become my sanctuary. It was my safe place; my tiny, indoor microcosm where my identity, job, retreat, hobby, and hour block of daily child care were so enmeshed, I couldn’t pull one from the other. People liked me there. They approved of my parenting style, my fitness level, and even my new hairstyles or outfits. I never had to go outside when everything I needed was inside those mirror-covered walls. I was shortsighted – never believing that the universe revolved around me, but certainly assuming that the universe was much smaller and that I was, perhaps, a fairly significant part of it.

Next to those colorful mountains, in the middle of wide open skies, God reminded me of an important truth I had conveniently forgotten: I’m not that big of a deal. Surrounded by His vast creation, I was confronted by my insignificance. The wildlife didn’t offer compliments on my physical characteristics. There were no mirrors in the desert to catch a glimpse of my running form – just nature for miles. With my eyes fixed on the beauty of His creation, my heart focused on the Creator. Deep within me, I was yearning for His approval, which began an inner dialogue where I could be honest about the fitness of my soul.

Every day, my Savior unearths another piece of me that needs more focus – another area where He wants to make me new. You would think I would eventually become a permanently perfect, brand new person with no work left to be done, but I know better. This daily soul exercise is what faith is all about.

Last spring, residential construction extended my little road. Almost overnight my 5 mile treadmill became a 6 mile one, and you know I accepted the challenge. I was ready to go farther. I pray I’m ready to go further in my faith. I pray I will accept His challenges. I pray I never stop asking to be made brand new.

I pray the same for you.

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