More Than I Can Chew

Dearest Rachel –

I think I may have lost my mind.

You see, it’s that time of year at church, when various groups come and pitch their programs to us, asking for our support, either financially or in terms of participation.

Last week, it was Compassion International, which they’re marketing as something for the whole family to participate in – especially for the kids, to get them to understand that there are children that are suffering from the physical and spiritual effects of poverty. The strange thing is, in going through your papers, it looks like you sponsored a child some time ago. Was it just that long ago, or did you do this with your own money, and never tell me about it? That latter possibility seems so out of character for you, but I confess I don’t ever remember us having done anything like that as a family or as a couple. And at this point, I suppose I’ll never know.

This week, it’s World Vision’s turn to prepare us for running the Chicago Marathon in order to raise funds to provide clean water for villages in Africa. They always talk about how they can train anyone to do this, regardless of age or physical condition – and, of course, how they need both runners and givers. And we’ve always been more than content to be in that latter category, sponsoring this or that individual as they run.

So why in the name of heaven and earth do I think I should volunteer to actually run?

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been told I need to put myself on some sort of diet and exercise regimen by my doctor. I’ve mentioned before how I was to undergo a stress test the week after we went up to camp that Saturday – only to have to be dealing with far more stress than that exercise would have put me through. I have yet to reschedule that, too, by the way. But if I was to be cleared by my doctor, this would be an effective exercise program, no doubt.

There’s also the whole narrative aspect of such an endeavor. The idea of doing this in your memory seems like a particularly strong human interest story – to say nothing of material for my letters to you (although I am amazed how I have yet to be stuck for something to write – and every single day – over the past few months). It might be effective, too, for raising support, too.

And it’s not like I don’t have the time to train, if I wanted to do this. I don’t have any limitations on my schedule (apart from having to be vigilant whenever Chompers is awake and might be needing one thing or another); no set work schedule, no projects with any set deadlines. I am as free to do this as literally any individual.

But that’s the thing – I don’t really want to do this.

It’s not like I’ve never run long distances before. Back in high school, when we had the ‘twelve-minute run,’ I could – and would – manage just about two miles in the required time. More recently, all three of us participated in the 5K runs the church sponsored back in 2014 and 2015 – it was the pictures from the 2014 run the church used when they announced what had happened to you the morning after the accident, in fact. Now, I don’t recall what my times were, though, but I doubt it was anything like what I could manage back in high school.

But those more recent runs reminded me why I never liked running. Oh, I’d do it, and I’d try hard, but you know, grades were at stake. Before I’d get a half-mile in, I’d be suffering from an agonizing stitch in my side that slowing down to a walk only mitigated to the smallest degree. Why would I put myself through something like this voluntarily?

Daniel talks a lot about these ‘messages’ he gets from the Spirit these days, more or less ever since the accident. It may have been starting before then – he tells me that you offered him a response of “I’ll believe it when I see it” to one of the messages he’d heard from one self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ or another he has been listening to on YouTube. Personally, I don’t like the idea of a modern preacher calling themselves a ‘prophet’ in this day and age (the way I see it, we have all the prophets we need in scripture, and anyone who claims to be a prophet now is, in effect, claiming to be writing more scripture – a decided no-no, if Revelation 22:18 is any indication), and I’ve made it clear to him I’m thoroughly skeptical. But I’ll hear him out, and not necessarily going to condemn what he hears out of hand: that is the status of our current truce on this matter.

That having been said, I do wish I could have some kind of revelation of my own stating whether this was or wasn’t a good idea – or more to the point, something that would absolve me from trying to do this, considering I really don’t want to (and, as I discover along the way, that I’ll have to raise funds in the process. As if the whole running a marathon wasn’t enough of an ordeal, I’m to drum up sponsors? I might as well write somebody else a check, like we always used to do, and have done with it). And if some deep, basso-profundo voice from the heaven actually were to say, “Yes! Go do this thing!” well, okay, at least I’d have some kind of word of God. I’d do it, then – i mean, I’m not Jonah, or anything.

Then again, even Jonah ran… albeit from God…

So last night, I texted Erin about her opinion on this. She had been serving at Bridge Kids (for the first time since the pandemic! Good on her, she’s getting back in the saddle, too) at the Des Plaines campus, so I figured she’d have heard about the World Vision pitch, too. Basically, I suggested an “I’ll do this if you do” kind of agreement, hoping that she’d demur due to her work schedule, since she works the graveyard shift at UPS, as you know.

[And with that being said, I wonder if you would make any jokes at this point from up in heaven about her being in the shipping industry when it’s me who’s doing the shipping right now. Please.]

You would probably be amused – and not nearly as surprised as I was – to hear that she’s been considering doing this for several years, now. As much as she denies being the ‘exercise nut’ I characterized her as the other day, the fact is she does enjoy certain forms of exercise (bicycling rather than running, to be sure, but nevertheless) to a much greater extent than I do. That she has friends and relatives that are stone-cold exercise freaks is irrelevant. There are always bigger fish, and anyone could look like an exercise nut from one point of view and still like a couch potato from another.

But, she can’t meet for the initial group run on Saturday morning, due to her work schedule. So I promised to attend it, and let her know what it was like.

In the meantime, they have a training schedule, starting with the second week, of amounts of time and distance to work up to:

Given that it’s just about three miles between home and the ‘office,’ I might as well just train by running and walking to and from here and three and have done with it. Granted, that will take more of my day (Google Maps claims that a one-way walk should take just a little less than an hour), but when am I in a hurry anymore?

I guess this is as good an exercise plan as any, I will get to be with other people, and I’m serving in a good cause. There’s no particular reason that this is a bad idea, exactly.

I’m just… afraid I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Wish me luck, honey. I’ll try to do you proud.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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