As runners, we are often hard on ourselves, particularly if we didn’t get that personal best timing or the position we had hoped for in a specific race or event.
Some runners, including myself, often say they don’t run races as they run leisurely and not competitively.
And yet, they still find themselves getting annoyed at themselves for not improving on their run times.
“Run often. Run long. But never outrun the joy of running.”– Julie Isphording
We should be forgiving on ourselves;
Otherwise, the drive for distance and speed will drive out the simple joy of running that got us hooked in the first place!
Then, there are the running quotes that we have all probably ‘liked’ and ‘shared’.
Quotes such as:
‘Skin is waterproof so don’t let the rain stop you running!’
‘You’ve got this, so stop listening to your legs whine!‘
‘The messier you look, the better the run!’
While these quotes were designed to motivate, some elicit more condemnation than encouragement.
Let’s face it, some runs just don’t work out the way we hoped, and when that happens, it helps be kind and forgiving to yourself.
If we don’t embrace this attitude towards ourselves, it is going to be hard to exercise grace and forgiveness towards others.
God designed us in His image, and with the miracle of the ‘new birth,’ we now have the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit, creating the character of Christ in us, otherwise known as the ‘Fruit of the Holy Spirit’.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”NLT, Galatians 5:22
Although forgiveness is not directly mentioned by Apostle Paul, we know that it flows through love, patience and kindness and produces joy and peace in the life of the person who is forgiving.
Forgiving ourselves for a ‘bad run’ if there is such a thing, will certainly leave us in a state of peace and joy long after we’ve showered away the dirt and sweat.
Forgiving and forgetting is something we need to do not just in our running but also on the track and trails of life.
This is because we can all, all too often, come face to face with the darker, crueller side of humanity that hurts one another.
It leaves a trail of broken, scarred and hurting people who are then often unwilling to engage with others again.
When I used to take school assemblies, I often talked about the parable of ‘The Unforgiving Servant’ (Matthew 18).
It highlights the grace of the King in forgiving one of his servants a debt amounting to ten thousand bags of gold, and how that same servant refused to forgive a much lesser debt from a fellow servant.
Jesus made it clear that the expectation of God was that those whose sins were forgiven would also forgive the sins of others.
The consequences of not forgiving others is blatant in the parable as the unforgiving servant is thrown into jail and ‘tormented’ until every last penny of his debt was paid back in full.
Confessing and apologising
Christians are called to be peacemakers, and we should ‘run’, or in others words, be quick to sort out upsets that can ruin relationships, spoil atmospheres and be bad examples to the community.
If we have offended others, we should be swift to make a genuine confession and apology to the other party.
However, this is not always easy!
When I was studying for my Masters Degree in ‘Missional Leadership’, I remember one of my lecturers Dr John Andrews, teaching on conflict resolution:
“If we don’t teach people to apologise correctly, it can aggravate an already difficult situation. In fact a bad apology can make the other party to feel the blame for the conflict.”Dr John Andrews
He further stated that we must learn how to “say sorry well”.
I agree with Dr Andrews as I have seen conflict resolution going from bad to worse due to people not knowing how to correctly apologise.
Alfred Poirier in his book entitled ‘The Peacemaking Pastor’ says that he has found Ken Sande’s “Seven A’s to Confession” to be an extremely helpful guide for teaching people how to make a clear confession.
- Addressing everyone involved
- Avoiding ‘If, But and Maybe’ (own your mistake)
- Admitting specifically
- Accepting the Consequences
- Altering your behaviour
- Asking forgiveness
- Allowing time.
As Christians we have the responsibility for making a genuine confession, and then asking for forgiveness from those that we have wronged.
In the case that somebody has wronged us and has genuinely asked for forgiveness, we must give it.
The four key aspects of forgiveness are:
- I will not think about this incident.
- I will not bring it up and use it against you.
- I will not talk to others about this incident.
- I will not allow this incident to stand between us and hinder our personal relationship.
In closing, remember that Jesus knew that the divine design was for us to ‘forgive and forget’, so when Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive somebody who had offended him, suggesting up to seven times (Matthew 18: 21-22), Jesus reinforced the divine design aspect of this matter by saying not seven times but seventy times seven times.
A quick calculation tells us that this is 490 times!
Of course, what Jesus means by stating such a large number is that forgiveness flows through us as we are designed to not only receive grace but to also give grace to others.
Remember that forgiveness is not an option – it’s an absolute necessity!
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”NLT, Matthew 6: 14-15
Prayer and Reflection:
‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ (C.S. Lewis)
- Do I need to ask God for His forgiveness on a specific matter?
- Do I need to ask somebody to forgive me for my wrong doing towards them?
- Am I harbouring ill feeling towards somebody who has offended me and if so does my attitude and actions about this cause me to be in a wrong place before God?
- Do I run as quick to put wrong things right, as I do when striving for a personal best on the running track?
Gracious Lord, please help me to run fast and far under the sun and the stars, and until I close my eyes in death, may you be my vital breath.
May I run for your glory and tell others your story.
Help me to remember I am designed to forgive and to forget.
May your amazing grace set my pace as I run with integrity into eternity.