I’ve been logging running mileage again, and it feels great. Most of my miles these days are happening on the treadmill at the gym thanks to the cold weather and early morning darkness that blankets our area at this time of the year.
The other day, I was up early running a quick 4.5 miles at our local YMCA. I had the treadmill ramped up to 7.8 miles per hour (which for me is a pretty decent pace). While I’m on the treadmill, I listen to podcasts and glance up at the televisions to see the latest sports highlights and news updates. About a mile into my run as I was lost in my own world, the treadmill suddenly stopped.
Imagine driving your car at 65 miles an hour and it suddenly stops completely. Or imagine riding your bicycle at 15 miles an hour when someone jams a stick in your spokes.
This is how it felt when the treadmill stopped for me. I somehow managed to catch myself before a complete catastrophe occurred. The guy running next to me commented, “Wow! Nice catch.” I tried to get the treadmill back up and running, but it wouldn’t power up and restart. I switched treadmills and continued my workout.
Sometimes life is like this. We are coasting along when something happens in our lives that brings things to a screeching halt. It’s happened in my life a few times – like the time I crashed my car two weeks before my wedding, like when my wife was rushed to the hospital shortly after our son was born, and like the moment I learned that my grandfather had passed away six years ago.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned a few things through life events like these.
- Hang on. Sometimes this is all we can do. When we don’t understand, when we don’t know the plan, we can trust God and hang on to His hand. I remember asking during these times, “Why?” Even in the toughest moments, we must remember that He will never leave us.
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5
- Trust God. In times like this, I’ve gone back to Proverbs 3:5-6 as a promise that God will make my paths straight even when life doesn’t make sense.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
- Lean into family and friends. I can’t tell you how much family and friends have meant to our family when life’s train seems to have derailed. It helps to know that someone is praying for me, is willing to talk or listen as I wrestle through the challenges of life, and is willing to be there when I can’t fully focus on my daily needs. If you’re missing this in your own life, I’d encourage and challenge you to seek out this kind of friendship. Our church small group experience has provided many of these types of friendships.
- Consider a change. Sometimes a life stopping experience can be the catalyst to positive change in our lives. This week, I switched treadmills. Maybe these experiences are a call to change direction.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
- Learn and grow. Life halting experiences can be life altering experiences if we take time to learn and grow. This is why I recommend a journal or even a blog as a way to record life’s happenings. I have learned so much through the major speed bumps of life and the blog and my journal have become great places to record and process these experiences.
I returned to the gym this morning to run more on the treadmill. I’m sure I was a bit more cautious, but I’m ready to keep going. I’m thankful for the reminder that a simple treadmill experience can provide. I have no idea what the rest of the day holds, but I look ahead with confidence knowing that it will be okay no matter what transpires.
What have you learned from a life stopping experience? What other tips do you have for handling these kinds of times?