Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God speaks to all of us. Are you listening?

For those who know me, you know that I have been a runner, well, basically since I was old enough to race my sister. Running has always been a huge part of my life. I competed in high school, at the collegiate level and even ran a half-marathon. I took about a year and a half hiatus from running after training so hard (and long) for my half. During this time I graduated from grad school, did the whole job search thing and packed up my life and moved to Colorado. As you can imagine there was not much time to train during this stressful and exciting time. Once I arrived in Colorado I had to get used to, you guessed it, snow, and the cold that came along with it. Running was the last thing I wanted to do on a cold, dreary, snowy evening. So I continued my hiatus.

Lately my love for running has blossomed. This love was rekindled by the beauty of Colorado, the amazing weather and the great running routes around my house. For years, running was about competing but then I transitioned into the kind of running where you just want to "get away from life".  With shoes double knotted, muscles stretched (barely), and headphones securely placed into my ears blaring my favorite song of the moment, I would hit the road, "getting away from life." Don't get me wrong, this definitely helped with the stress of daily life and gave me time to just get away from it all. But is that what life is all about? Doing things that you so called "love" so that you can "get away from life"?

I have been running consistently for about 3 months now. I tried something new this time (as suggested by my dear friend and mentor Emily). I started running without headphones. I'll admit it was hard at first, but like anything it took time and the resistance of the temptation to just stick the headphones back in. I have now been running for 3 months without music blaring in my ears. I have actually tried, on occasion, to run with them and I have to take them out because I feel like they are clogging my thoughts. Well, God thoughts.

We all hear from God in different ways. I think He can speak to us through people, the arts, well frankly, through just about anyone and anything. This last Sunday, I headed out for a long run. My chosen route was the loop around Sloan's Lake and back to my house. Before I go on, I have to say that Sloan's Lake, to me, is one of the hidden treasures of Denver. As I made the move to this area, many people expressed their negative thoughts about this lake. I had this preconceived notion that this lake was going to be a dump. Readers, let me tell you, this lake is purely God's work. The view is absolutely gorgeous. When you look one way you see the backdrop of downtown Denver. The lights, the high-rises, the great skyline of a bustling city. Look the other way and you have the clearest view of God's handy work in the Rocky Mountains. Ok, enough on Sloan's Lake. Anyway, I set out on my run which ended up to be 45 minutes. During this 45 minutes of dodging traffic, leaping over piles of doggy mess (wasn't sure how to best say this) at Sloan's lake and taking in the cool, crisp Denver air, God challenged me. He truly spoke to me while I was running. Now before this running transition, I would never have heard Him over the lyrics to Katy Perry's newest hit single. How many of us have things in our life that are our own "headphones" that are blocking out God's voice? I truly believe that God is always speaking to us, but are we listening. I challenge you to find ways to hear Him. Put down the book, turn off the music, turn off the TV and just listen.

You might be wondering what God said. Well you will be highly disappointed to know, as we all know, God doesn't necessarily spell things out for us. In my opinion, He plants seeds. So what seed did He plant? As I returned from my run, my mind was spinning. From all the spinning surfaced a question that God had challenged me on: "What does it mean to live a purposeful life? Can living a purposeful life simply be in how you live your life (decisions, kindness, etc.) or is living a purposeful life about what you do?"

As soon as I stepped into my house I immediately sprung this question onto my roommate Autumn. I am sure she was unsure of what was going on when after immediately returned from my run I said, "Can I ask you a question?" I asked her this question and we discussed this for little while. I have to tell you that I was so emotional, with tears on the brink of falling down my face. I felt so moved and also humbled by the fact that God spent time to speak to me. Since this happened on Sunday, my week has been shaped by this question. I had a chance to talk to my dear friend, Leslea. Of course I explained all of this to her and asked her the question as well. I think everyone's answer to this question is different, as it should be. God uses all of us in different ways to be witnesses of His love.

After hearing others answers to this question and reflecting on it myself, I feel that I understand the message that God is trying to send me. Of course we all struggle with what our mission is in life. Even after finishing grad school, I still question this (which I don't think is a bad thing). It means God is keeping us on our toes, ready for whatever need He has. I initially went into the field of Student Affairs to make a difference. If I could make an impact in one person's life I knew that I would be fulfilled. I constantly question if I am making a difference. Should I "do" more? Now that I am not in school I look at my free time and I am starting to feel guilty and think I should "do" more. This goes back to the question of whether living a purposeful life is about how you live it or what you do?

The answer I have come to (with help from some dear friends) is that it is a combination of both. We can all do things that glorify God and we can all live a pure life that glorifies God. Most importantly (as a friend pointed out), its about what others see. One of the most purposeful lives we can live is one where others see God in us (thanks Leslea!). This can be a combination of what we do, how we life our life, who we surround ourselves with, etc. Now, finally figuring out my answer to this question that God posed to me on my run is great and all, but the answer scares me. Living a life where others see God in you! Am I living a life like that? I hope to think so but I know I have a long way to go on this. I guess I have realized that no matter what we do, we should live and live and do things hat let others see God in us and through us. This is the life that I long for and I am working towards. Aren't we all? So this new question that God has posed, that I now try to reflect on when I run is, "In what ways can I live a life, where others see God in me?" I'll let you reflect on that question as well! Until next time.....