Lessons are learned every day. I learned one very early this morning and I hope to always remember it.
I was on a bit of a tight schedule this morning and I wanted to try to squeeze a three-mile run in before the kids woke up. I felt good about wanting to do that. I was up early (showing some personal discipline) … I wanted to exercise (showing a desire to be healthy) … I wanted to run hard (showing some grit and determination). I felt very good about myself and my agenda for the morning.
But, then my 3-year-old woke up. He saw that I was getting ready to go for a run and he really wanted to go with me. I’m not sure if you’ve ever run with a 3-year-old. Mine loves to go for runs and we’ve done so before. But he also loves to stop and look at anything that grabs his attention along the way. It’s as “stop and go” as traffic on the beltway. And, who doesn’t enjoy that?
My wife looked at me with tender eyes that said, “Awwww. He wants to run with daddy. How cute.” My thoughts were not quite the same. Honestly, I was not happy. MY time was limited (showing my inflexibility) … I did not want to “waste” time stopping every 200 yards (showing my impatience) … and after a late night of talking with people and an early morning of having people over to the house, I honestly just wanted time by myself (showing my selfishness).
I initially said, “No, buddy. Daddy is just going to go by himself today.” But, then my wife’s eyes that once said, “Awwww” were now saying, “I know you’re frustrated, but you’re not going to have many opportunities to run with your 3-year-old. Don’t miss this one.” Who does she think she is anyway? :)
So, I begrudgingly laced up my running shoes and my wife put the most adorable running outfit on our son … and off we went. My son had a smile on his face the entire way, and I soon did as well. He sprinted. He zig-zagged. He laughed. He stopped. He examined whatever caught his attention. We even passed some walkers who cheered for him along the way. And, it didn’t take long for God to show me that spending this time with my son was the absolute best thing I could have been doing this morning. I paused, told God I was sorry for being so selfish and was grateful that my agenda was interrupted by this beautiful moment. Running on my terms may have strengthened my heart physically, but running on God’s terms softened my heart spiritually … and that will always make me a better man.
The whole thing just reminded me that I can get so caught up in my plans and my agenda and what I think I should be doing (or even what others say I should be doing) that I can easily miss an opportunity to do good to the person God places in front of me. I can get so busy trying to “do” for God (and feel good and even prideful about what I’m doing) that I can easily miss what God simply calls me to do: love Him … love my neighbor … do good to all people … allow my faith to be expressed through love … to see the character of Jesus fully developed in my life … to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every area of my life.
Our running pace sure didn’t shatter any records, but it did shatter some of the hardness in my heart. For that I am grateful. I’m sure it will be a lesson I need to learn and re-learn throughout my life but for now I rest in the fact that God had a plan this morning … and it was a whole lot better than mine.