These were my cardiologist's parting words today.
"You DID it!" he said, encouragingly. "I've only had one other patient who did what you're doing. You and one other person out of 5,000 have managed to change their lives and get off all their meds. KEEP going!"
I realized in that office that not all doctors want to keep distributing meds and keep you coming back. Some doctors--and my guess is really that most doctors--truly desire to see their patients turn their lives around and get healthy.
His words encouraged me and made me realize this:
I am not just a statistic. I am a person who has made a significant change, and that change has led to incredible joy.
If you told me two months ago that I would be on my way to being medication free and in the best shape I've ever been, I would have looked at you from my armchair and said, "Okay, what's the catch?"
The catch was that I had to turn my life around. I had to give up a lot of things I liked, and I had to increase the thing I thought I was allergic to---exercise. I had to deny my flesh, learn to crave Jesus instead of food, discipline myself instead of overthinking what I didn't "feel like" doing, and work really hard at achieving my goals. And I never want to go back.
If you told me two months ago that I'd be running a 5K, I'd have said, "No. That's not possible because I absolutely detest running." Yet, that's where I'll be in three weeks.
Today, after I left the doctor's office with instructions on how to cut back and eventually eliminate the blood pressure and cholesterol medications, and to keep doing what I've been doing, all I wanted to do was run.
Yesterday I finally tried that new route I mentioned on Sunday, and I hit the 3.1 miles I have been working toward (3.1 miles=5K). I was exhilarated! Today, since I had such good results, I ran the same route.
Around mile 1.5, a song came on and if I wasn't running, I might have fallen to my knees in worship. I've heard it before-after all, it's on my playlist. But for some reason, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude and overwhelming joy.
The song is called, Here in Your Presence by New Life Worship.
I thought, "How can running possibly be a worship experience?"
I tried to remember how much I hate running, but I was loving it! I was so caught up in the presence of my Savior, that I could barely contain my emotions. I wanted to weep with gratitude, and lift my face to the sky (but it made it hard to breathe while running). I'd taken my earbud out (I only use one so I can hear traffic and bad guys sneaking up on me) and had my phone in my sweatshirt pocket. The music flowed, and my hands, being free from holding the phone, wanted to praise God. He is so good.
But alas, I'm still self-conscious about what I might look like to those peering out their windows (as if). Instead, I found myself simply letting my arms fall to my sides and holding out my palms. I tried to close my eyes, but running on a road with your eyes closed is almost as bad as running with scissors.
I ran like this for awhile, while the song continued. I truly felt caught up in the heavens, especially with words like, Here in Your presence we are undone; here in Your presence heaven and earth become one. I have never before had a worship experience quite like this while running. But how could you not when your route looks like this?
I passed a young teenage boy trying a new move on his skateboard. He kept trying and failing. But he kept trying. As I passed by, I heard my doctor's words to keep going. I did it. And so can he!
"Keep at it!" I told the boy. "You'll get it!"
"Yeah," he muttered with a nervous chuckle. Who was this odd woman who closed her eyes while she ran, held out her palms and played Jesus music from her pocket?
She is a woman who has been transformed in more ways than one. Through the power of God and through hard work and determination.
She is a woman filled with intense and immense joy.
She is more than a statistic.
I hope you've enjoyed my series on joy. It is my prayer that something you read this month touched your heart and spurred you on to intentionally choosing joy.
And just for fun---here's a picture I took on that run of a REALLY big camp chair---I think it was made for a giant. I've never seen a camp chair this big.
It's hard to tell just how big it is without a person in it--just take a look at the storm sewer behind it, or the cup holder and imagine a can of soda in it. Is it a chair or a basketball net?
Thank you for accompanying me on my joyful journey. I hope and pray that you continue choosing and spreading joy wherever God plants you!
Blessings Along the Path,
sharing this blog with some of these lovely bloggers and with Write 31 Days
By the way, I also met the challenge of writing and posting every day this month!
To see how far I've actually come from my first day of running, you can read my article/essay in the Women's Running online magazine.