Running Through the Darkness

from Giving the Glory

Life is full of ups and downs; peaks and valleys.

Last week I posted a blog about what it feels like to hit one of those “peaks,” so to speak. I had a small breakthrough in my comeback from surgery, and I wanted to share this as encouragement for anyone else out there who might be struggling. The message I was trying to share is simply that there’s always hope, even in the darkest times. What I suppose I failed to emphasize, was that this was just a small peak; not like reaching the top of a Colorado 14’er, and reality is that there are many deep, dark valleys still to travel through.

I’ve had a few “good” runs, but most are still not completely pain free.  I survived a long bus ride, but it did set me back a few days. Point being, when I really look at where my recovery from surgery is at right now, I’m still a very long ways from feeling completely “normal,” or even thinking about racing again.

When people ask me how I’m doing, and how my running is going, I like to give a positive reply. No one wants to hear someone complain all the time, especially when the injury (or whatever struggle) is a chronic one that’s been going on for years. I believe that having an optimistic attitude is a powerful thing, so I try to live my life in that way. However, sometimes I find myself being “fake positive,” or “fake happy,” and that has its consequences.

I did not realize that my last blog portrayed this idea that I’m now healthy, running strong, and happy as can be. In fact, when I wrote the poem about being on a runner’s high, and I think back to that particular run, I was actually in a terribly angry, frustrated, and somewhat crazed mood that day. On that run, I simply used that anger as fuel, and I was thankful to have running as my outlet. However, there have been many days where I haven’t been so lucky to have that outlet. I’ve easily had as many bad days as good; days when my leg screams out to me “Don’t over-do-it, I’m still healing,” and I’ve had to stop running.

While I’ve been grateful for all of the caring people who have reached out in the last week congratulating me on being “back to running,” and telling me they’re so happy that my surgery “fixed everything,” the truth is that I’m still very much in the healing phase. I’m still dealing with setbacks, and still using every ounce of my energy in an attempt to stay positive, while really I’ve still been succumbing to bouts of depression now and then.

I’ve realize that in order to share my comeback story with others, I make myself vulnerable to all kinds of feedback. But my motivation behind sharing it all will always be two-fold: I want to share hope, encouragement, and inspiration with others; but I also want to “keep it real,” and not portray the “fake happy” that so many of us do through social media.

In the lyrics of Paramore’s song, Fake Happy,

“I love making you believe
What you get is what you see
But I’m so fake happy
I feel so fake happy
And I bet everybody here
Is just as insincere
We’re all so fake happy
And I know fake happy…”

Oh please don’t ask me how I’ve been
Don’t make me play pretend
Oh no, oh what’s the use
Oh please, I bet everybody here is fake happy too,”

I heard this song the other day for the first time, and it made me stop and think, “How many of us are really going around playing, “fake happy?” Always answering the “How are you?” question with a simple “I’m good.”

Instead, I’ve realized its better to be honest with myself, my closest friends and mentors, and with God; and not be afraid to become a little vulnerable and admit it when I’m struggling. I wrote about this a few months ago, in another blog (Surrendering the Struggles) and yet here I am having to remind myself of this all over again! But that’s okay. I know that life is full of peaks and valleys. When you reach a mountain top and you look out into the distance at all of those peaks and valleys, you have one advantage…you know what’s coming in the distance. So whether you’re currently running into the darkness, or into the light; whether in the valley, or up high on the peak, remember that it’s all a part of the rhythm of life, and you are not alone.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

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