Rub People the Right Way

shorts

One of the most annoying things about running long distances is the chaffing that can occur from clothes or other objects rubbing your skin over and over. I bought a very expensive sports bra last year that was cute and colourful; yet, after wearing it for my first 10km run, I realised the shoulder strap had one little spot where the overlap was rough and that tiny 2cm seam rubs uncomfortably the ENTIRE TIME. I have pushed this to the back of the drawer and only wear it on days when workout clothes make me feel productive even when I haven’t stepped foot out the door!

I bought some new bright orange and grey Nike running shorts recently when I was in America and couldn’t wait to wear them. I did a few shorter runs and they were fine. Then, one morning on a longer one, the seams between my legs suddenly felt two inches thick and I realized how course and bumpy they were as they rub, rubbed, rubbed my inner thighs all the way home. I had a scab mirroring minor road rash for over a week after that one!

So many times, something seems nice on the outside, even enticing (I mean who doesn’t love a hot pink and blue Lorna Jane bra?), but upon further investigation, it’s actually not suitable for where I’m traveling. If I’m pushing ahead, extending myself and actually going beyond normal expectations, something as silly as clothing takes on a whole new meaning. I’m no longer looking at it for its “cute-factor” or whether it’s the right size. Now, I’m looking deeper into its construction. Finding out if what seems right on the outside is actually good for me on the inside (of my armpits, legs, or foot). What might seem like a perfectly good pair of shoelaces, if laced up too tightly for several kilometers can cause a bruise on the top of your foot (that’s my most recent faux pax).

Our relationships work much the same way. Have you ever been around someone for a short time who was funny, interesting, and kind and then spent a little more time only to find out his humour is actually used negatively to insult or tear others down? She’s “interesting” because she knows all the latest gossip and is happy to share it. Or even her “kindness” comes with an agenda.

I want to be the type of person who, upon further investigation, actually looks and feels even better than the first impression. I want people to feel good after spending some time with me and I pray their experience of rubbing shoulders with me leaves them stronger and more like Christ, not down in the dumps, wanting to avoid me next time my number comes up.

I often say we become the people we hang around and the books we read. I encourage you to look at your friendships and ask yourself:

“If I keep running with this person, am I gonna be better for it or am I gonna have some scars and bruises?”

“Is my conversation life-giving and generous towards others, believing the best and seeing the positive?”

“Can I become more like Christ with each encounter I have, or am I being pushed away from God, my church, and other Christian friends?”

It’s the subtleties that make all the difference in time. Paying attention to our words and taking note of how someone affects us can determine our endurance level and strength. Take note when someone “rubs you the wrong way” because it may be your first clue to pick another partner to run with.

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:28-30

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Tunnel Vision

This morning, on my run, I almost ran an old lady off the sidewalk.  My friend and I were about an hour into our glorious run, chatting away near Cooks Hill and didn’t move over to let the lady through.  As we almost collided, she let us know what she thought about us in very unflattering terms.  I didn’t even realize what had happened until I heard her yelling back at us.  We were a bit rude to not step off the sidewalk and let her have it.

I have tunnel vision when I run.  I can come home after 10K and not be able to tell you one thing I saw on the road that day.  I just run and run and get so caught up with the thoughts inside my head, that I can’t even remember where I am sometimes.  I have made wrong turns down streets for half a mile before I realize I need to turn around.  I don’t look at street signs.  I don’t look at the houses.  I just run.  And when I’m with a friend, I talk and run.  So, you can see, it’s easy to knock an old lady off the road in this fixated state.

As Christians, we often run through life with a narrowed viewpoint, concentrating on a single idea to the exclusion of others.

(And I don’t mean in our belief system, which can be considered “narrow-minded” by those who disagree with our morals and convictions.)

I’m talking about the greatly restricted peripheral vision we have due to our focus on OURSELVES.  How many times do I go through a day thinking about MY problems, MY situation, MY family, MY food, MY schedule, MY, MY, MY, and give no thought or consideration to those sharing my sidewalk?

In ministry, we walk right past hurting people in the corridors of our own churches.  We ignore the signs of a friend in need because of our paltry outlook.  Our field of vision hones in on what WE want, OUR goals, and OUR desire to move ahead faster, better, stronger.  We don’t knock people down physically on our way to where we are going, but we might shove them out of our ‘busy’ circle of life.  The people around us can be seen as impediments to our journey.  They, needing our time, slow down our pace.

They, like the elderly woman this morning, see us coming and wonder if we are going to move out of our way to acknowledge them.  They watch us move through our lives, striding along, not knowing if their slower pace is good enough to be noticed.  Often, when we do, it’s too late.

I want to shift my focus with a phone call to check on how a friend is doing or by treating someone to coffee. A card in the mail or a FB private message can go a long way to opening our eyes to see what’s in front of us.  Instead of looking at what someone can DO FOR ME, I want to expand my peripheral vision and see whats coming my way.  More for others, no motive involved.

Most people think the church is peripheral to the world.  But, Ephesians 1:23 in the Message says the world is actually peripheral to the church.  Maybe if we stop acting like everyone and everything is peripheral to us, and put ourselves on the periphery, we might find ourselves more influential, more heard, and more valued by those around us.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3,4