*From the Archive: I wrote this a couple of years ago but at the time didn’t have way to share it other than through Facebook “notes”
For the majority of my adult life I have gotten by with just two pairs of shoes. A pair of “sneakers” for fun/play and a pair of brown leather hiking boots for everything else. It has only been within the past few years that I have started to expand my footwear collection. Shoes just weren’t that important to me.
Until I started running.
When I first took up running I was wearing a pair of off the shelf Nikes which were chosen solely on the way they looked. Style always trumped other qualities, like say…comfort. After a few minutes my knees were hurting, my ankles were aching, and my arches were on the verge of an outright rebellion. At the time my goal was to run a mile without stopping or dying. But the pain threatened to kill even that modest dream.
At about the same time I was becoming aware that all shoes were not created equal (nor were they all created by Nike). Sensing that my shoes may have been my problem I decided to pay a visit to a local running store to be measured, evaluated and fitted into a shoe that was engineered for my particular foot type and stride. Within minutes my stride had been observed, my arch had been studied, and my foot and been measured in great detail.
The shoe specialist disappeared with his calculation in hand, and a few minutes later he emerged from the back room with a stack of shoe boxes six high. Turns out I need what is called a stability shoe, because apparently I am unstable (insert joke here). The first few shoes didn’t do much for me, but then he pulled out the Asics Kayano.
My foot didn’t slip into the shoe as much as the shoe seemed to reach up and wrap itself perfectly around my foot. It was like he had pulled down two fluffy white clouds, soft and weightless, and wrapped them around my feet. I felt like I was hovering just a couple of millimeters off the floor.
That was five years, two marathons, and dozens of Asics ago, but I still get that same intoxicating feeling whenever I lace up a new pair of shoes. I feel like I could run for hours without stopping, but within 7 minutes of the inaugural run disappointment sets in when I realize, once again, that no matter how expensive they are or how advanced they have become I still have to run. It’s still up to me to drive my foot into the ground and propel myself forward. The shoe can’t do it for me.This same phenomenon follows me into my faith. Over the years I have purchased Christian books, studied theological resources, and opened blank journals hoping each time that this will be the one thing that will jumps start the consistent inconsistency of my spiritual life. But I am soon met withthe same realization that a book, resource, or journal, no matter how good, doesn’t have the ability to compel me to exercise a little spiritual discipline in my life. They can teach me, they can motivate me, and they can inspire me, but they cannot make me. It still up to me to open my bible and bend my knee.Every morning my cell phone announces the beginning of another day by rattling across the nightstand. In that moment I face a decision. I can either rollout of bed or to roll back under the covers. By nature I tend to drift toward the path of least resistance until the Holy Spirit whispers for the millionth time, “…I beat my body and make it my slave.” There are days I pull the covers up and tell Paul to mind his own business, but most days I listen to him and force myself to get up and run, both physically and spiritually.At the end of the “run” I have once again learned lesson that the benefit always outweighs the effort. It is a recurring lesson because it seems that as soon as I learn it…I immediately begin to unlearn it. And by the time the cell phone begins its regular morning dance across the nightstand I have lost it completely. But thankfully the Spirit patiently whispers again, “…I beat my body and make it my slave.