My husband is a runner and several days a week he gets up early to fasten his running shoes to his feet and pound the pavement. Being a light sleeper, I hear him rise and I begin an internal battle about my own exercise routine. I enjoy a morning walk and I am always glad that I made the effort to walk--after the walk is over. Before the walk, I am not thrilled in any way and I would much rather lay in bed while my husband is outside changing the world with his running. And then he can bring a cup of coffee to my nightstand when he is finished.
However, I know that this isn't healthy, so I lay there having a battle. There is a cute park that I can walk to in the morning. It is a triangle shape, much like a folded flag, and it is filled with flowering trees that are dedicated to the likes of Betsy Ross, Martha Washington and others from American history. I walk up the hill and around the darling little park and then back down the hill and it takes a little over a half an hour to complete the course. On a perfect day, I get up at 6 AM, when my "running man" gets up , and I head out the door by 6:15. I can be back home and in the shower before 7. It leaves me time to sit and read while I eat my breakfast. My whole day feels a little lighter to carry.
This is becoming increasingly difficult for me to do. Lately when I wake up at 6 AM--it is still dark outside and my mind gets confused about what we are supposed to be doing. So, I lay in bed and have the following argument with myself:
"Get up."-- the cruel woman says.
"No. It's dark."-- the tired woman answers.
"You need to walk."
"No. It's nighttime."
"Your getting fat."
"Ouch. How about if we walk at lunch?"
"It will be too hot."
"After work. We will walk after work. It will be so nice. We can bring the dog and the man and we can go to the park with the ducks..."
"You'll say your too tired after work. Get up."
"But its so dark. I can't do anything when its so dark and scary!"
You get the picture, right? So, eventually at the end of the argument I drag "her" out of bed, put on my shoes and head out the door. Time wasted arguing has pushed the clock forward, it's 7 AM. I have to hurry to the top of the hill, around the old flag lady park, then back down the hill and straight into the shower. I want to have my time to read at breakfast, so, while I am out, I try to pick up my speed and for about 50 strides I, too, become a runner. But, running is not my friend. There are too many things to strap down and hold up to really enjoy the pounding. Things are just flying everywhere and, seriously, someone could get hurt. The whole walk is less enjoyable and I end up feeling a little frazzled when I jump into the shower. Breakfast ends up being a granola bar and a banana that I eat in my car. My day doesn't have the same optimistic vibe.
So, this morning when my runner's little phone alarm started playing the Battle of the Republic and it was still dark all around me, I raised my head and spied that it was 6 AM and with a half of a sigh and mostly an irritated complaint I asked, "When is the time change?"
"Next month" the runner replied.
A whole month of darkness in the morning? 30 mornings of fighting to get up and get out on the road to create endorphins in the dark? But, I'm tired of the darkness! I need the change to come now!
Somehow, I manage to drag "her" out of bed and into a sports bra. As I head out the door, I begin my walk up the hill with my ipod in tow. I am tired and cold and acutely aware that if the sun were out it would be a lot less scary.
One step after another my mind fades into thoughts of what I will be doing the rest of the day. My heart gets a little heavy and the anxious feelings turn into knots and begin to tighten my stomach. I am not looking forward to going to work today. Finding joy and peace where I work seems nearly impossible. From the first hour of the first day, it has been one of the most emotionally trying experiences I've ever gotten myself into.
But, due to the economy, I do what a lot of people are doing. I work and I save. And I pray. I know that God sees everything that I am going through, and He is there with me from the moment I clock into work on Monday until I dig through my purse for my keys on Friday. I'm never there alone and I'm always clocked in for Him. I work to serve Him and to bring Him the glory by being as much like Jesus as I can. I try to think of how Jesus would be if he were the one giving a child his flu shot. How would he treat this child, how would he treat this child's parents?
I know that it can't stay this way forever and my thoughts began to wrap around how much I am waiting on God to bring about change. I know that I won’t always be where I am. God has reassured me that He is at work and so I wait for God to work a miracle and change my circumstances. But the change isn't coming and my spirit is becoming more and more weak. The battle at work rages and I continue praying for God to transform my situation. I ask for Him to get me out of there, I even fax out my resume to help Him save me--but, He doesn't.
I think back to the last few weeks when I reached a point of utter desperation and despair. I wanted to fall down and I wanted to allow my depression to take over, but I couldn't. See, the battle has been going on for many months and I've been begging God to rescue me and in that moment that I was truly at my lowest--He lifted me up. I had spent so much time pleading with God to save me--that He saved the me that no one else can see.
It seems the more I pray for God to change my situation, the more He allows my situation to change me--for His good. And He will change the exterior of my situation, when His time is right. I won't always work at the place I am working, but, when He moves me to the next place I will be stronger for the time I've spent clinging to Him.
As I come around the edge of the first corner of the triangle park I am in a new state of satisfaction. My walk is almost over and looking out across the valley at the fog and I am so thankful that I am awake and outside and watching the sun melting away the mist. I am so glad that I was able to move through the morning haze and welcome this new day. I am reminded that God will do the same thing in my life. The haze will lift, perhaps slowly and I will be able to experience the new plan that He is mapping out for me. And having journeyed through the darkness will make me all the more thankful for the arrival into the place of light. I find a sense of peace knowing this.
As I am heading down the hill and beginning my cool down, I reach into my pocket and change my ipod to shuffle. I like to cool down with surprise music and let myself sing along to whatever happens. I spin my finger around the dial without looking and then jab the start button. As soon as I hear the music, it is like the lighting of a candle—delicate, soft and familiar--all at once. Before the lyrics begin, I am pleased. Then I hear the sound of George Harrison’s familiar vocals:
“Little darling…it's been a long cold lonely winter”
And I begin to sing with him. I am now walking with John, Paul, George and Ringo. We are heading down the hill and I am singing at the top of my lungs. The chorus comes and the words get stuck in my throat—
“Here comes the sun” and suddenly, my eyes well up with tears. Like a covenant to seal the deal, God gives me a song. Everything He was just telling me is suddenly echoed in the words of a Beatles song. I feel so ashamed of my doubt over the last few months. The sun is rising in the sky and God is raising the sun in my life. He is taking me to new places to experience Him on a new path.
As I wait for the clock to be changed, I will continue to argue with myself about getting up early and walking and I will always win the argument—whether I get up or not! But as I wait for God to change some of the things that I am in the midst of dealing with I won’t argue and I won’t allow doubt to control my mood. Luci Swindoll says in her book Life—Celebrate It "The best of human freedoms is the ability to choose my own attitude in any set of circumstances."
"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" Romans 8:24
His timing for the daybreak is perfect. I place my hope in Him and I wait.