A running metaphor
Since probably around early high school, I’ve carried an unspoken but omnipresent feeling that if I wanted something good in my life to happen — anything beyond just “the ordinary” — then I alone was the one who had to make it happen. I’m not saying I didn’t have unlimited privilege and help — I did. But I didn’t really notice that at the time. All I could feel was that it all depended upon me.
This played out everywhere. School. Finding a career path. Accessing that path. Making meaningful friendships. Doing good. Being good. Finding favor in the eyes of the those who supposedly mattered. Popularity. Making money. Perfecting my calendar. Health. Even hobbies.
I didn't always feel the heaviness of that pressure I put on myself, but I feel a little malaise just reflecting on where I felt I had to “make it happen.” This neural circuit in my brain has been well-traveled over the years.
Lately I’ve carried this feeling at work: I alone am responsible for how my patients fare and how they perceive my attempts to help them.
And at home: if I want my toddler to thrive, to eat and gain weight, to learn to share, whatever it is, well, I need to make it happen.
We all put pressure on ourselves. I get it.
The "I-make-my-reality" worldview is obviously tough on one’s soul. I succeed and my ego grows. I fail and my ego rebels… negative energy is still energy, and the ego still finds a way to grow. I can see more clearly now how this worldview led to my panic attacks and pathologic anxiety a few years ago. That season of suffering transformed me, and I’m certainly healthier because of it, but it didn’t eliminate the temptation to “make it happen.”
Tonight I’m reflecting on an ever-present whisper that, by God’s grace, sometimes catches my attention. Sometimes I’m able to listen as if it’s my new favorite song, and sometimes I’ll go weeks without noticing it, lost in my own buzz.
What’s the whisper saying? It’s pretty simple: That the God of the universe is for us. Ha! I know, I’ve heard that a million times, too. But only recently have I tried to put my privilege and work ethic and ego aside and actually feel it.
I recently felt the whisper-turned-shout on a long run. I’d finished a series of podcasts and was lost in fears and hopes for my life. God said, “You’re worrying about making it all happen again.” Pondering His words, I felt something change while I ran on… I was still running, but I ran differently. I ran lighter. It became a run where you experience freedom in your body, not an arduous fight with gravity.
And the metaphor stuck with me — yes, I’m still made to run, and I can choose to run, and I can even train to run better, but ultimately the outcome is not up to me. I already have what I need. I get to play. God wasn’t telling me to stop running. He was just telling me to trust while I do it so I can receive the good things he has for me. And when I forget this, I know I can slow down and eventually hear God’s constant whisper.