Thursday, March 13, 2008

Running Lesson #3


Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” – Col. 4:6

And where you say it and to whom you say it and how you say it. Those are all things that we know but sometimes have to be reminded…the hard way! Not too long ago I was running in one of my favorite places. It’s a place that I like to run because it’s pretty, occasionally there are a few nice old people out walking (from the assisted living home where my ole buddy Mary lives), and, most of all, because it’s flat. As a result the “runners high” usually hits me somewhere on that stretch.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know what that means – I begin to sing along with my MP3 player. Out loud. And, if you know me, I’ve never been confused with Pavorotti, Placido, or even Bob Dylan for that matter. But that’s OK because there hardly ever anyone around and the residents don’t hear so well, so I usually let it rip! But this day was different.

As I was running on this beautiful, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day and enjoying just being out, I began to sing along. I knew that I was getting closer to the home but what I didn’t know was that there was a woman, who appeared to be in her forties walking in the parking lot. But the peripheral vision in my right eye caught the movement of her head violently jerking around as I belted out, “She’s a lady!” I immediately knew what she must be thinking so, being the quick-thinker that I am, I just kept on singing the “Whoa, whoa, whoa” along with Tom Jones so that she would know that I was singing and not making cat call on the run. How embarrassing!

You would think that I would have learned from that, but you’d be wrong. Just yesterday, while in the middle of a 13 miler, I was caught up in a song and you know where I was when it happened. This time I did scan the parking lot and with no one in sight, I cut loose on the chorus of a great song: “That woman I’m in love with, has got to go!” It was then that I saw him. A man who was obviously a visitor was frozen in his tracks with his right hand on the door and looking over his left shoulder to see what the fuss was all about. All I could do was smile and wave and hope that he didn’t know Kim and go warn her!

Oh, the tongue gets us into so much trouble, doesn’t it? We say things without thinking or in the wrong way or to the wrong person. You would think that we would have learned something, but once again you’d be wrong. James said that no man can tame the tongue (Jas. 3:8) and we are inclined to agree with him, aren’t we? So what can we do?

►We can think before we speak - no blurting or belting.
►We can be sure to speak with the right tone, for it communicates more than the words.
►We can refrain from saying anything. Not every thought or opinion is needed.
►We can speak words that are kind, helpful, encouraging, and appropriate.

I plan to keep on singing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But in the future I’m going to be more careful about what comes out of my mouth and how it comes out and when it does so. That’s something that we can all do.

Gotta run!

Running Lesson #2


Do all things without grumbling…” – Phil. 2:14

One particular day I came home from a run griping about the fact that “there isn’t a level road in this whole county”. It seems like I may have added “stinkin” somewhere in the discussion too. And it is true. It’s either uphill, downhill, or side hill when you live in Pike County. That’s just the way it is, but on this day I was extra frustrated and so I came in growling like an old bear. This wasn’t my first rant (as you might have guessed) about the level-deprived topography of our fair city and I suppose it was just more than Kim wanted to hear. It was, you might say, the straw that broke the wife’s back. **Note: I am NOT likening her to a camel!

I can still hear her response. She calmly and kindly said, “Well, you can quit running, move, or stop complaining!” Ouch! That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but that wasn’t it. But after I had time to reflect on the wisdom I knew she was right. Those really were my only choices and no amount of griping was going to change the reality.

Complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. Dissatisfaction can be a positive but only when it is coupled with action. Venting doesn’t help either. In fact, I have noticed that by the time I finish venting about anything I’m angrier than I was before. With all due respect to psychologists, I have concluded that all venting does is make mad people madder!

Speaking of less-than-ideal situations, Paul wrote the book of Philippians while under house arrest in Rome. His privacy and freedom were taken away based on a trumped-up charge, and yet it is he who is reminding us to not complain! Was he ever frustrated? Certainly. Didn’t he feel like complaining? He had to. But what good would that do?!

Instead, his perspective allowed him to see the best in the bad. He stated in Phil. 1:12 that actually things have worked out for the better this way. There weren’t crowds at the Coliseum, but there were soldiers next to him (1:13; 4:22). He couldn’t go anywhere, but neither could they! He would not have chosen to be in that situation but it did embolden his brethren in other places (1:14).

Is there something in your life that you can do something about? Then do it! Is there something that you’ve been complaining about? Then do something about it! Griping is passive and unproductive. Just think how much better our families, schools, and churches would be if they just followed Kim’s advice.

So, let’s all do something or stop complaining…no, better yet, let’s do something and stop complaining!

Gotta run!