fear, frozen, freedom

Let’s get real, y’all.

Several months ago, one of my cousins moved to the Kansas City area with his family (wife and three kids) to work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Operation Mobilisation. He coordinates international Christian sports missions between the two organizations. It’s a bit of an adjustment for us, in a mostly-good way. My parents moved to Missouri, alone, before my sister and I were born, and we’ve never before had any extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) living nearby.

It’s neat that he is working with sports, but at the same time, it’s forcing me to confront some of my paranoias. By my nature, I am a solo runner. I’ve never run with a training group or with a friend. The only times I’ve ever run “with” others have been at races – but I don’t know anyone else, and I don’t WANT to know anyone else there!

I have a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, I’m slow. I know I’m slow. I celebrate that I’m slow, because there are plenty of reasons why I *shouldn’t* be able to run at all, but at the same time I’m embarrassed that I’m slow. I had a couple of PE teachers and, later, some therapists after my accident who were incredibly negative about my slowness and worked their hardest to convince me that I was not and never could be a runner. It’s hard to shake those old voices sometimes.

More importantly, running is my therapy. I say this half in jest, because running is not and never will be the same as therapy. For me, running has allowed me to cope with some emotions that probably would otherwise require therapy.

There’s some dark stuff in my past. There was a time when I made many poor choices, when people who I thought were my friends really only had their own best interests in mind, when I fell victim to abuse and sank to a black, hopeless place. I don’t share those experiences with many people. Even my own family does not know how bad it was. On the few occasions I’ve shared even a part of those experiences with someone outside my immediate family, those people have reacted in an inappropriate and very negative way. Running allows me to work out my emotions in a way that is healthy and productive.

When I run, it’s like I remove the filter between myself, my emotions, and my past, but I’m strong enough to face those emotions. Running gives me the strength to cope. Without that filter, the side effect is that I become overly willing to talk about… anything and everything. Including the things that I would ordinarily NOT share with other people. When I run races, it’s quite common that people running at the same pace will chat with each other and get to know each other during the race. More than once, I’ve caught myself starting to share the things I don’t want to share!

My solution has been to run alone. It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s worked. Until now.

My cousin invited my whole family to take part in a “Run 4 The World” event that his organization is sponsoring. It’s basically a fun run, but instead of running a set distance, each runner will run (or walk) for one hour. The organization is sponsoring runners and events around the world. Each person will log the distance they run, with the goal of running a combined distance of 40,000 km, or the circumference of the globe. Plus, of course, they are raising money to build schools and provide medical care in the third world.

Of course, the whole idea makes me anxious. I support building schools and providing medical care in the third world, but running around people who know me? Eek. No thank you.

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Confession: I really like Frozen.

I know, I know, it’s a kids’ movie and it’s all over the place. As an adult, I’m supposed to roll my eyes and laugh at “those silly children”.

Yet I connect with that movie on so many levels. Of course, as a younger sister, I totally understand how Anna feels when her sister shuts her out. I adore my older sister. I know exactly how it feels to be the awkward little sister.

But when Elsa sings “Let it Go“…the triumph of that moment…

I get goosebumps every time.

I get tears in my eyes every time.

The courage displayed in that moment is overwhelming.

What the movie doesn’t capture, and can’t really capture, are the weeks and months following Elsa’s “let it go” moment. Life does all that it can to foil our desire to live freely. No matter how resolute she was, in the days that follow, she will question herself. She will wonder if she made the right choice. She will wonder if her power is really enough. For just a moment, she will forget that she is incredible.

Then one day, she’ll watch a Disney movie and find herself crying inexplicably at the heroine’s song.

Then she will remember.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. ~Deuteronomy 31:6