I’m a doer. I’m busy. I thrive on projects and having things to do after I finish the other things to do. I’ve always filled my life to the max, left things to the last minute and know I always get things done, just in time.
I actually do that as a way of not giving in to my perfectionism- to not give myself too much time to go over, re-do, or agonise over the standard met. Good enough became my replacement mantra to do your best, which to a perfectionist isn’t possible, because there’s always more to do. It’s a fast-paced life and we are all running our race. As best we can. Not best, good enough…
But today I want to blog about the purpose of running. Because we may all be running, but why run?
I was always a high achiever. I learnt quickly what I was good at, and knew I could be good at anything. I found obtaining high marks and good grades easy, with little or no study, I understood complexities with ease, seemingly before most others, and my mind worked things out quickly. Once I had decided what I wanted, it wasn’t long before I’d excelled enough in that area to get it. It made choosing a career path very hard because I knew whatever I chose I could be good at. I considered becoming a Dr, a nurse, a lawyer, a teacher, a body piercer, a hair dresser, an editor, an interior designer. I started my own business when I was 12, first babysitting, then tutoring, then piano teaching. I got a floristry apprenticeship, a waitressing job and a job in retail all at the same time, whilst doing Year 11 and 12, running various bands and youth group events and partying most nights with friends. And I still got in the top 10% of the state in my Year 12 results and good enough marks to choose any pathway I wanted, on a couple of days cramming session before final exams. Yeah I was running!
The unseen part of my life was that I was actually running from several things: a broken family, generational addictions, hypocrisy of leaders within my faith community, the desire to fit in and find myself, and to never let my anger out. My busyness was a distraction from stopping and letting the demons catch up. But I was fine, I had it under control, I was in control. Until I wasn’t.
A few years before all that, I spent a lot of time writing, in self-reflection and soul searching. I knew who I was, what I wanted, where I thought I’d go, and had full confidence I would get there. I wrote lists of things I would never do, never try, would never need. I sought truth, I read philosophy, scripture, studied psychology and sociology, musical theory and legal studies. I had it all together. So I’m not exactly sure when it started to unravel.
But fast forward those few extra years, and I found myself, sitting up late one night, after walking home in the early early hours of the morning, alone in the dark, realising I had now done every single thing on my never would do list. To further cement the realisation of the cliff edge I was straddling, the next morning, the news reported on a gang rape that had happened the previous night, ten minutes after I had walked past that same spot on my way home. Ten minutes later and it would have been me. So again, I ran.
This time to Sydney with the first guy who was offering, leaving behind my psychology degree mid-semester, my younger siblings to clean up my parents’ divorce, and my partying lifestyle.
So much for the huge potential I had, the ease of high marks and maintaining such a high standard for so many years.
So here’s what I learnt:
Do not run from your fears, run toward your dreams
It was after speaking to a girlfriend on the phone for three hours one night, in hearing her story of recent brokenness and trauma, of her struggle with suicidal thoughts, that I decided running toward my dream trumped running from my fears. I was on the next train home the following morning.
My friend had reminded me of my inner most desire: to help people be free from pain, their past, from suicidality, from fear. I had run away from my own mess, but left everyone I loved in theirs.
I have spent everyday since, helping people be free.
Freedom only comes from facing our fears, our past, the demons that chase us. From not running away. Because, as my story shows, we can run, but everything else always follows. Unless we turn, and face it, and deal with it. If it’s no longer there, it can no longer get us.
So slow down. Stop running away. Don’t fill your life so your mind is distracted from what fills it. Stop. Rest. Breathe. Seek help to be self reflective. Ask yourself if you are running from something, and if so, get equipped with tools and strategies to slow down and be mindful of what fills your mind. Only then can you choose the content of your mind rather than your mind choosing for you.
And just on rest. Do it. Do more of it. Schedule a morning off every week. Do what you need to do: sit, read, write, exercise, shop, coffee, go back to bed, get your nails done. Rest. Don’t be afraid of what will catch up with you if you slow down. No one can run forever. You need rest breaks, refuelling stations, reflection on why you started this running race in the first place.
It’s not about how far or fast you run, it’s about why you’re still running and what you’re running to.
And trust me, there’s further to go. The point is to get there. And to get there well. To be well. Not broken, worn out, unable to make it.
Find your why. Answer the ‘what’s the purpose of my life’ question. Find something to run for, something worth running to. A passion. A truth. A belief. Something to hope for.
For me, I run for you. For your freedom. To write, to speak, to pour out truth and hope. So you can be #reminded of who you are, and find what you are running for and where you are going, and actually want to get there.
The month of May for us is the #mayyoustay campaign. It’s the highlighted month in my calendar every year. This is my why. Your life. The lives of your loved ones. For every person to live a life worth living in. That they stay for. This is why I run. With you.