Pain Turns Us Into Runners

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“When life is stressful, do something to lift your spirits. Go for a drive. Go two or three thousand miles away. Maybe change your name.” Unknown

“There’s a big difference between running toward something and running away from something,” was my daughter’s take on our family’s tendency to shut down, escape, ignore, diminish, hide, or numb out when faced with uncomfortable emotions.

We’re inclined to run away from what we don’t want to face instead of running toward it and healing. After all, didn’t God create us to always be comfortable and happy? If you notice how I’ve lived until now, you’d be convinced I’m convinced that’s exactly God’s plan.

Instead, here’s the truth from Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, “God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”

Running away is how I handle my uncomfortable emotions when I feel overwhelmed, misunderstood, or when I think I’m too emotional, although I’m not sure why I quantify my feelings with words like “too.” Because of quantifying, though, I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I’d like to pack my bags and drive to California.”

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I live on the opposite coast, so I’m talking about running like Forrest Gump.

It’s mostly a joke, except for the time I packed my bags and drove six hours to our mountain house a couple of weeks before Christmas. I couldn’t stay here to hear one more carol, one more “Merry Christmas,” or one more happy couple out to eat. While away and shopping, a salesclerk asked if I was ready for Sunday. I looked confused. He said, “It’s Christmas.”

Pain turns us into runners, even from cherished moments we’ve looked forward to.

I felt deceived when I drove away only to run head-on into the things I planned to run away from – fear and shame and silence. At some level, I knew this before I left. I wanted to face them, but I didn’t think I could.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled onto Amanda Blackburn’s story. She was a young minister’s wife murdered by intruders in her and her husband’s suburbia home outside of Indianapolis. I’ve followed Davey’s blog about Amanda, their son who was in his crib during the attack, and the baby she was carrying.

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Davey based one of his posts, “Run Toward the Roar,” on church founder and pastor Levi Lusko’s Through the Eyes of a Lion. Levi wrote the book after his five-year-old daughter died in his arms. In Davey’s blog post, he tells about facing his emotions and running toward, instead of away from, his hardest fear to face – going back to his and Amanda’s house and laying in the spot where he found her dying. He wanted to stop running from remembering her.

Pain turns us into runners, even from memories of favorite people.

Davey’s post was embedded in another blog I’ve followed since reading it on a Facebook friend’s page. The blog “Bittersweet” is about Jenna Saadati, a gifted fourteen-year-old who wrote stories, played in the school band, and trained for track in the same town where my grown children used to live. That was, until Jenna took her own life in 2013 as a result of bullying.

Pain turns us into runners, even from the family who cares about us and the life we’ve cared about.

Beth, Jenna’s English teacher mom, blogs about her daughter’s death and her life. In Beth’s post, “The 4-Word Motto I’m Choosing To Follow,” she referred to Davey’s blog post about running toward the roar. She wrote with faith that four years after Jenna’s death, she’ll tend their garden for the first time without Jenna, and she’ll hopefully sow Hope. She tells about the “roars” she’s run toward to restore her own life since losing Jenna. #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

As much as I want to run in the opposite direction from everything that hurts (like these three stories about loss), running away is how I ended up scarily depressed. My story’s not filled with their kind of pain, but like a friend said when she straightened out my comparison, “Pain is pain.”

If we have any chance of not being consumed by it, running toward it is necessary.

The same as Davey asked at the end of his post, “What roar do you need to run toward today?” #feeltoheal #faceourpain #stoprunningaway #runtowardtheroar

In This Together,
Kim

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My friend Jenny sells shirts with this saying on them, “Run towards your battles.” Jenny’s design is based on 1 Samuel 17 about young David defeating the giant Goliath. You can order one by clicking From the Stand Store. (The link is not working, so, for now, if you’d like a shirt, please let me know and I’ll forward Jenny Abbott’s contact info.)

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10 responses »

  1. I can relate to this, Kim, from the running away from it or freezing at pain, doubt, and fear. Facing them, in most cases, would have been a more successful choice. Procrastination thrives on this too.

    Enjoy your writing

    • Wow, Joel. I don’t think in a million years would I have associated running from pain and procrastination. Putting things off does thrive in that sort of environment. I have to think about this some more. Thanks for commenting!

    • I get it, Andrew. In the middle is probably a good place for many of us. I used to do extremes easily. Now, if I can just turn in the direction of pain and start dealing with it, that’s progress for me. Thanks for adding balance. I always appreciate hearing from you.

  2. Bravo, Kim, for another powerful post. I think at times we all want to pack our bags and run away. Some carry through with it and some don’t. I remember a family member telling me years ago that one night she got so angry with her husband that, while he was out, she packed several suitcases and was ready to head out the door when 2 of her grown kids stopped by and asked her what she was doing. She never left and I guess they worked it out. I see that running away reaction in Rich, who just wants to deny what’s going on with his illness. If he could physically run away, I think he would, but, as the hospice nurse has written, his world is a 3-foot square area of the living room. There are days when I want to run away, but most of the time I’m running toward a better life or at least a better quality of life, and I’m facing full on the brutal reality of what’s happening to him. Unfortunately, when you have a runner and a facer in the same family, sparks are going to fly. I am trying to get back to my writing, but so far all I’ve managed is a brief article on caring for the caregiver for a wellness publication of the United Methodist Church. I’ll let you know when I post again.

    • Mary, that’s interesting timing for your family member who had her bags packed. My car broke down right before I left, so one of my family members thought it was a sign not to go. I decided differently because my car was fixed and ready to drive by my deadline. 🙂 It’s pleasant when people can work out their differences face-to-face even though I’ve accepted that’s not always possible. And sometimes there’s nothing to work out and it’s about acceptance. I’ve read that often from you and it’s an inspiration to hear that message although you probably don’t feel inspired or like you’re inspiring anyone some days. Just know that you are. ❤

      Good for you taking the time to share with others about being a caregiver. Yes, let me know when you post again. Hugs!

  3. Kim,
    As you know, Pain is part of the game. All of the inclinations you listed are normal first reactions to pain or discomfort. No sane person wants pain. Life always presents us with a choice. (We do not get a choice of choices.)
    When cancer presents itself we can deal with it or ignore it. That’s our first choice. The second choice is how we deal with it. Alone and discouraged or together with the Holy Spirit confident that we are not alone and that suffering has real meaning in our lives.
    Only the “perfect” escape pain. And by the way, I am too old to run to or from pain.
    Bob

    • Hahaha, Bob. Good point about being too old to run to or from it. 🙂 Me too! How about a fast stroll so we can deal with it and heal? I pray for y’all often. ❤

      As always, thanks for stopping by and for your insightful comment.

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