when a hated thing becomes a sacred thing

Let’s be honest: Running is the literal worst.


It makes everything hurt, it makes you feel terrible while you do it, and only about 1% of the world looks good while doing it. In the words of Anne Perkins:




In high school, I used to wake up early before school and run on the treadmill in our living room while watching reruns of Smallville (which is a bizarre enough school at normal television-viewing hours but is even MORE disorienting at 5 a.m.). And I hated every second of it. Running wasn’t about enjoyment or health; it was about punishment and disciple, trying to free myself of all the things that I hated about my body.


Sometime in college, running became what I did when I was angry. If everything was going well, I could barely run a mile, but if I was mad about something, I could run for MILES (well, like, MAYBE 3 of them).


Since then, running has been my most reliable means of curbing anxiety. While I am not an anxious person by nature, it crops up from time to time, and running is the only thing that shakes it out of my system.


It’s been a hard week, and I’ve been finding myself again with the urge to run, despite the ARCTIC temperatures (disclaimer: “arctic” in North Carolina translates to 40 degrees, but STILL). As I piled on layers and set out into the cold, I realized: My gosh, I think I enjoy running.


I don’t know when it happened, but I realized that running has become one of the ways I connect with God the most is when I am running. I run at times when anxiety or anger or emotion is too overwhelming to sit in, and I find Him running beside me. While I love connecting with Him deeply in stillness and silence, I find that He meets me in motion just as well. He meets me in the slapping of tennis shoes on concrete, in the wind on my face, in the rhythm of my breath. Our bodies and spirits are far more connected than I often realize.


Funny how a thing I once loathed has become a place of solace and refuge—but isn’t that just what He did with the cross? Turned an instrument of torture and punishment into a symbol of outta control love.


This I hold to in my current season: If God can redeem running, well, He can redeem ANYTHING.




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Sarah Ann Schultz

writer + editor + dad jokes aficionado