I love to run. What I really mean is, I love the way my brain thanks me after a good run. Exercise is the number one stress-reliever we have, and I try to run at least three miles, three times per week. But this morning, it was 80 degrees at 8am and the humidity was teetering between 99 and 100%. I was not feeling quite so thankful.
Running in a completely saturated sky is like trying to breathe underwater. It’s like inhaling soup. It doesn’t work. It feels heavy. Uncomfortable. And I while my brain thanked me afterward, my heart cursed with every incessant pound of my foot onto the pavement.
There are two people in my life going through unthinkably hard times. Each of my dear friends have had to make some very tough decisions. Decisions to protect their safety and their sanity. The only decision left when their hearts have shriveled inside their chests. I believe their choices are absolutely right, but I know that in the midst of a shipwreck, no one says “thank you” for the waves.
A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
It’s been nearly five years since my own ship capsized. I remember how the water poured in and the waves crashed. My beating heart had grown tired of trying to keep my head above water. In the midst of trauma I’d endured and some chaos I had created of my own accord, I felt completely alone.
I just knew I was going to drown.
Whether you’re a runner or not, many people feel like they are slipping beneath the weight of it all. Life is not always easy. We’re putting one foot in front of the other, dragging ourselves forward, but we can barely catch our breath.
This morning, as I was nearing my third mile, it felt as though my heart might pound out of my chest and I had a choice – quit or slow down. The truth is, both are valid options. Bad things have happened to us. We’ve all made decisions with undesirable consequences. But life is worth living. And sometimes the only way we can keep going is to slow down.
When you are running full steam ahead, trying your very best, but you feel like you can’t possibly go any further ….
Don’t take another step.
In Bob Goff’s book, Love Does, he says he quits something every Thursday. If your life is really hard right now, take a break.
Ask for help.
Has anyone told you lately that it’s okay to slow down? To cast off the heavy burdens, to let go of the unrealistic expectations, to stop running and give yourself space to breathe?
If you’re walking through your own personal Hell today and you feel the waters rising up to your neck, it’s okay to slow down. When you are drowning, the best advice I can give you is to cast off the things that are too heavy. Let go of the unrealistic expectations. Stop running and give yourself time to breathe. Reach out. Find a safe person. You don’t have to navigate these waters alone.
Steve Austin is a former pastor, life coach, speaker, and writer. He is passionate about helping people create a lifestyle of focused emotional health and clarity. Sign up for Steve’s free Friday newsletter and get a copy of his book, From Pastor to a Psych Ward, as a big “thank you”. Got questions? Looking for advice? Email Steve@iAmSteveAustin.com today!
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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