Monday morning my laptop disavowed its own touchpad and I had to borrow a mouse from Cyndi. (It was purple, with flowers, very girly.) Next, my laptop refused to recognize either of the two wireless networks in our house. It was an unsettling trend. What might fail next? I turned the laptop over, pulled the battery out for five minutes to give the electrons time to stop spinning, reinstalled the battery, rebooted, and everything worked. All it needed was a fresh start.
And so I’ve been wondering about that myself these past weeks. Do I need a fresh start?
Several friends have commented about my recent bike crash and my perpetually bad knees, and the comments go like this: “Maybe God is telling you to take up something else. Is it time to move on from running and cycling?”
I was asking myself that same question a few years ago, in 2008 to be precise, when I ran the Austin Half-Marathon.
My training had been marginal, more walking than running, and not much of that, because my knee was still sore. Too much body mass and too little running made it hard to motivate myself to hit the roads every day. Yet, I wanted my love of running back. I wasn’t ready to put that phase of life behind me.
I knew the half-marathon would either make me hungry for more, or tell me it was time to move on to something else. Would I step in or step out? Would I say, “I’ll never do that again,” or say, “When is the next race?”
And now, five years later, I’m wondering the same thing.
I’m currently under the care of Midland Memorial Hospital’s Wound Management Specialists - a lingering effect from the bike crash on March 4th - and they won’t let me do much of anything until I’m healed.
It’s OK. I am more than willing to stay away from running or cycling or hiking or backpacking or yard work or manual labor in order to let this wound heal, but at the same time I am ready to get back as soon as possible. I am hungry to move.
The question of fresh starts is bigger than running or cycling, wounds or arthritis. I don’t want to squander my life holding on too long to something I should leave behind. How do we know if we’re bravely hanging on or merely being delusional? It isn’t always easy to know the difference.
So one morning this week I read this from Psalm 20, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Ps 20:4 NIV)
I saw in the margin of my Bible where each year I had written the desires of my heart in response to this promise. However, I also noticed my desires kept changing. I held on to some, let go of others. How could God give me my desires and make my plans succeed if I kept starting over again and again?
But my core desire stayed constant: I want to impact the lives of people. My heart hadn’t actually changed; it just takes a life time of digging to uncover desires from all the debris thrown up by daily life.
Later that same day, after reading Psalm 20 and praying for insight into fresh starts, I received two clues about the true desire of my heart:
I was listening to an audio book by Rich Roll, titled Finding Ultra, about how he turned around his life after discovering ultra-endurance sports. He described an epic endurance event in which he and a friend decided to do five Iron Men-length events in five days, each on a different Hawaiian Island. His description of the effort was brutal, but the more he talked about his suffering, the more I wished I could do it, too. I realized that was an indicator of my own heart, that it has many more miles in it. Rather than think Roll was crazy, my heart wanted to be with him.
And then I saw some photos of another local cyclist who crashed while riding in the Texas Hill Country, and his injuries looked significantly worse than mine. Again, rather than scaring me away from cycling, I couldn’t wait to get back on the saddle.
I suppose I have a life-time of fresh starts still ahead of me, but for now the one I’m most looking forward to is moving down the road again. I can hardly wait to get started. In fact, I’ve already started planning future races.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32