Body, I forgive you

post-race-5K

Saturday I had to do a very humbling thing.

I always said I would never walk a 5k or 10k. If I couldn’t run it, I wouldn’t do it at all. In my 20s and 30s I ran them. I competed with myself to get quicker, better times. I had running partners and we’d train daily for the next big race.

But injuries and time and aging competed against me, too. I finally realized I could either run 30 minutes a day, or have healthy legs, but not both.

So I gave up running. Which meant I gave up community races.

But Saturday that changed.

Because my daughters wanted to do the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K, and because they wanted me to join them, and because my bestie Kay said she’d walk it with me, I signed up.

To walk it.

Was this giving up? Being a wimp? Accepting defeat?

No. As a matter of fact, it was liberating.

It was time to let the pride die. To release a competitive spirit.

And to forgive my body . . . for not cooperating, for not doing what I wanted it to do, and for making me accept limits.

Our flesh won’t always cooperate with our spirit. Whatever our age.

  • We can either resent the limitations or find a way to work within them.
  • We can be angry at our bodies, or accept what they can give us.
  • We can judge our flesh as bad and incompetent, or we can use what we do have for God’s glory.

I choose the latter.

Body, I forgive you. How can we love God together if I’m hating on you?

The 5K walk turned out to be magnificent. A beautiful day, it was a fun experience with my daughters and my friend. The money raised went to cancer research.

ribbon_run_5K

I used my body to walk for friends who have lived through cancer and friends who have died.

One in particular died from cancer just that week, and after the race, I showered, put on a dress, and attended Diana’s funeral.

Eventually all our bodies will fail us in physical ways, but in the meantime, they’re the only instruments we have to serve with, to take us places, and to love others with.

I promise to be better friends with mine.

diana funeral

* * *

How do you deal with physical limitations? I’d love to hear in the comments.

48 thoughts on “Body, I forgive you

  1. Susan M.

    Go Lisa! So proud of you! Thank you for sharing with us, and encouraging us to accept our bodies. Our son has cerebral palsy, so what a body can/can’t do is a frequent thought in our home. . .

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You know far more about this than I do, Susan, as you care for your son every day. May the Lord continue to give you the strength you need! You’re a blessing, friend. You have my total respect.

  2. Mary

    Oh, Lisa…I SO get this. I am learning to adjust as I get older. This is a lovely testament to this stage of life. Did you see this in Jesus Calling October 20th?

    “The human body is wonderfully crafted, but gravity and the inevitable effects of aging weigh it down. Even the most superb athlete cannot maintain his fitness over many decades. Lasting abundant life can be found in Me alone. Do not be anxious about he weakness of your body. Instead, view it as the prelude to My infusing energy into your being. …The process of aging continues, inwardly you grow stronger with the passing years.. Those who live close to Me develop an inner aliveness that makes them seem youthful inspite of their years. ”

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs sweet friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No, I didn’t see that, but it’s exactly what I need. I have a hardback copy of Jesus Calling, but I’ve decided to pay again and get it on my Kindle because I’m far more likely to read it everyday there. My neighbor (my GUY neighbor) occasionally posts from JC on FB and it always moves me. Thanks for giving this to me today, Mary!

  3. Bekahcubed

    Sounds like this hit a chord with several of us. For me, it came at just the right time, since I was confirmed with preeclampsia yesterday and am gearing up for six weeks of bedrest followed by an induced hospital birth that is far from what I hoped for. I can choose to be angry or I can choose to bless God in this circumstance as well – rejoicing that His grace is made perfect in my body’s weakness.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, no. I’m so sorry to hear this, Bekah. 🙁 I know you must be so disappointed that you won’t be able to finish out your pregnancy the way you’d like. But I love your attitude of praising the Lord anyway. I know you’ll make good use of the bedrest time (let me guess–you’ll read??? ha), and I pray it will seem short until you have your sweet baby in your arms.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Linda. You’re always an encourager. I didn’t have much time with this friend who died, but I hope to continue in relationship with others who cared for her. I learned a lot about how to love by watching them.

  4. Ellen Chauvin

    Liberating indeed! And what a relief to know that if I cannot run each time my Couch to 5K app says I should, I can walk, pray, and not feel guilty! Great post!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No guilt–it’s hard to release that when we expect so much more out of ourselves. 🙁 But freedom comes in the release. I’m still learning the lessons. Hope your Couch to 5K journey is a blessed one, Ellen!

  5. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! Congratulations! Both on overcoming your feelings about races, and for completing it! What lovely photos, it’s so fun to see you, your daughters and your friends.
    Accepting the new limitations of my bodies is not very fun. I used to jog myself, but now I can only walk. I can’t kneel, squat or do heavy lifting. It’s been a process of acceptance.
    But as you said, this is the only body I get, so I should be grateful, and use it joyfully 🙂

    Happy Wednesday!
    Ceil

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing this, Ceil. I don’t want to be one of those “misery loves company” types, ha, but it does help to know we’re in this together.

  6. Becky Keife

    Lisa, what a significant milestone! As a runner in years past, I’m sure you’d never have thought walking your first race would be a great accomplishment. But I love how God is so gracious to turn our weaknesses (whether it’s a spiritual weakness like pride or a physical one like injured legs) to turn us more fully to Him and show us how to live out of his strength. Glad to be visiting you from Jennifer’s place.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your encouragement, Becky. I hope that I won’t let this first walking race be my last, because there really was a lot of joy and camaraderie and good from participating. God continues to teach us in ways we never expect!

  7. floyd

    What a wonderful and inspiring perspective. I too have seen my better days; physically that is. The best days spiritually, what really counts in our Father’s economy, are still ahead of me. You go, girl! Love that picture of you and your two girls.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “The best days spiritually, what really counts in our Father’s economy, are still ahead of me.” So true, Floyd! Amen. I can look forward to that no matter what. Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. [email protected]

    Lisa,
    So proud of you for going and for taking care of your body….I’m definitely in my 40s and I need God’s grace to accept my changing body…It helps if I remind myself to be thankful and to be gracious and not overdo it…what a great example you are to your girls 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not going as gently into accepting my age as I’d like to. Before I turned 50, my age didn’t bother me. But something about that “5” got under my skin. I definitely need God’s grace with my attitude adjustments. I know a number is irrelevant, but when I see weakening, it bothers me. 🙁 But our weakness calls out his strength, right? Thanks for stopping in, Dolly!

  9. TC Avey

    Amen.
    I think satan gets us to focus on our limitation or “faults”. I hear so many people say they don’t like something about themselves (whether it’s physical, mental, whatever). God is showing me that when I critic my body or the way I’m made, I’m criticizing Him. He made me. He loves me.
    Yes, I have limits. I have things that aren’t beautiful in the worlds eyes. But I am beautiful in God’s eyes and I am complete in Him.
    He’s not asking me to do what I physically can’t do. Instead, His asking me to trust Him, to love Him, to do what He’s called me to do.
    Some people can run marathons, some can sew beautiful quilts. We all have talents and we are all needed and have value.
    Thanks for sharing, Lisa. God bless.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You make a great point, TC. When we criticize the way we’re made, we’re criticizing our Maker. And for whatever reason, he allows us to age, so I need to embrace it. I also need to accept that I’m still complete in Him, regardless of what goes on with my body. Thanks for the encouragement to continue trusting, loving, doing what he calls me to do, whatever that is.

  10. Beth S.

    This is beautiful, Lisa. And I so got this. My running days ended a few years ago. It took me a while but I have found a new love for riding a bike. The bad ankle is grateful I decided to stop pushing it beyond what it was capable of. But I’m really grateful for the reminder to love our bodies and to use them to serve others. What a beautiful thing you did that day. Blessings.

  11. Barbara H.

    If I ever did any kind of race, I’d have to walk it. I can get real competitive with Dutch Blitz and Settlers of Catan, but not anything physical – I’ve never been good at anything physical. But I’ve let that make me too sedentary, and I need to work on that.

    Sometimes the effects of aging are discouraging, but sometimes it’s freeing to realize I can’t do a certain thing any more and set it aside, especially in terms of serving. Elisabeth Elliot once said something to the effect that limitations define ministry. Sometimes we can get discouraged by what we can’t do, but if we truly can’t, then that’s not what God has for us and we can focus on what we can do. When I look back at my young mom self, trying to do so many things and raise three boys at the same time, I think, no wonder I was always so stressed. Though I have enjoyed every stage of life (well, maybe with the exception of Junior high. 🙂 ), I am enjoying the current season for its restfulness.

    Of course, we have to be careful not to let the pendulum go too far the other way into inactivity and making excuses instead of doing things, but you know what I mean.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Wow–thanks for sharing that about Elisabeth Elliot. I recently did a writing exercise about what GOOD things have come from not running. And there were actually quite a few. 🙂 So yes, God uses even our limitations for his glory if we allow him to. I need to remember that more often.

      Raising three little boys would definitely have kept me stressed. That’s why God gave me girls. ha. I’m enjoying this season of life too–but I also look forward to when I can have little ones again. So glad you have little Timothy in your life! I know he brings all of you much joy.

  12. Trudy

    Bravo for you, Lisa! And thank you for this post. I love it, especially the three either/or points you make about the flesh not always cooperating with the spirit. I have been struggling with learning to accept my chronic illness and its limitations and not rebelling against it, so these points are so timely. Forgiveness of my body is definitely in order.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “not rebelling against it” – ouch. I keep having to work on that. Some of my body’s pains are from my own hand, of overdoing through the years, but I need to forgive myself for that too. Praying for both of us to accept the bodies and conditions we have for God’s glory.

  13. Kelli Woodford

    I happen to think that the words “Body, I forgive you” are some of the most liberating and brave ones I’ve ever heard. Or spoken.

    Poignant and resonant. Thanks for sharing this at Unforced Rhythms, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Kelli. It was following the funeral that those words came to me. I don’t want to be at war with my own body and feel like it’s betraying me….

  14. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I’m not very good at “acceptance”; when my body fails me, I push it harder, and with less consideration.

    There are a couple of reasons; one is that if I can maintain a certain level of fitness, it’s money in the bank in dealing with current circumstances. Fitness makes every system that much more efficient, and that has been the difference between life and death when dealing with pain-induced shock.

    The second reason is that it’s about the only means of care and therapy I have. Can’t afford treatment (no insurance) or pain meds; so if I can attack thi on a psychological level, at least aspiring to my former level of operational fitness, it keeps me positive and in control, rather than feeling victimized.

    It becomes a challenge.

    But that said, I do have to accept a day like today, when I was unconscious from sometime in the morning until about 1500. I had a feeling I was going to pass out, and the next thing I knew it was afternoon.

    There’s no being angry about that. It’s just what happens. I’m glad I woke up!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I was hoping you’d weigh in on this, Andrew, since you are going through extreme issues with your own body. I understand the “push it harder” philosophy. Sometimes that’s definitely what we need to do. But other times, it can make things worse. The secret is knowing which times are which. I pushed too hard when I was younger, working through injuries that needed rest instead. And now I’m paying the price. And then genes also come into play, food choices, etc. Some we can control; some we can’t. But either way, I definitely agree with you that we don’t need to feel victimized by our own body.

      They also say there’s a difference between pain and suffering. In a devo I saw today: “Pain is the rent we pay for being human, but suffering is to some degree optional.” Not playing the victim keeps some of the suffering at bay, at least mentally.

      Sorry about your day yesterday; maybe the unconsciousness was your body’s reaction to pain. It can work to our favor at times… Glad you woke up tho! Praying for you.

  15. Laura Thomas

    Stopping by from THS… thanks so much for this! I’m in frustration mode right now with an Achilles injury, and unable to do my usual beloved work-out routines 🙁 You are absolutely right— we can either wallow in our inadequacies and lament our aging bodies, or embrace what we DO have and give it all for His glory! I’ll hobble for Him 🙂 Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Injuries definitely take their toll on us emotionally as well as physically. 🙁 But they teach us things through it as well. (Just not always things I want to learn about myself!). Praying you heal quickly and that you keep hobbling for Him. 🙂

  16. David

    Very moving.

    I (47) am finally realising I am no longer a Young Turk. Not so much the physique which is probably better than ever (improved markedly on having a son and carrying him around). More the style and psyche, and how people relate to me.

    Just before Merce Cunningham died I saw him with his troupe. His troupe were throwing themselves around crazily like he would have done years before. Merce himself didn’t come on stage. Towards the end he did. He walked across the stage looking at the audience. Just walked. Young expert bodies twisting and flying all around him. We froze transfixed. I don’t remember anything else about the evening but the strange music and his sudden commanding presence.

    David

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your example of Merce Cunningham. It’s not always about the twists and turns we can make with our bodies, but about the presence we bring in our bodies. I’d like to have been there at that performance. Good food for thought…

  17. Kay

    I loved getting to walk this race with you, Lisa – even better that we get to do a lot of ‘walking through life’ together! As much as I don’t like the limitations my body sometimes puts on me, it does sometimes cause me to slow down and do things a bit differently than I normally would. It’s often in those times that I notice some really good things that I might have missed otherwise. Walking this race gave me more time to enjoy the beautiful morning and more time with you! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad we get to walk through life together too, Kay. Great way to put it. 🙂 And we get to talk twice as long by walking than by running the same distance. (Although we’ve done our share of running through life together as well. ha) I’m thankful we continue to be on the same journey.

      I would have enjoyed your company today walking in Denver. Such a beautiful view and temperature!

  18. Katie

    Dearest Lisa,

    No matter how long I am gone from the blogging world, you are there ready with such encouragement. Thank you dear friend. Doing this, forgiving your body, is so brave and liberating.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, when we’re tired, take a nap. Listening to our bodies isn’t always easy; acting on the needs even harder. But when we can, we should.

  19. June

    Great job, Lisa! Thanks for sharing this. What a bitter-sweet day it must have been for you. I’ve always been pretty forgiving with my body’s physical limitations. But that may change as I get older, lol. I think it is difficult for all of us when we have to rely on others for more and more for basic things that we used to be able to do ourselves. I see that with my dad who is 84 now. He has to “wait” on me to provide him with pretty much everything. His world has become very small. Have a blessed weekend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I do hope I’ll age more gracefully than I’m doing right now. ha. It was very hard watching my parents need help; they both went down super fast, and didn’t have time to adjust to needing help. Praying for grace for when we need help or when we need to be the helpers. I’m sure you’re a great blessing to your dad, June.

  20. Jean Wise

    Just love this, I am a walker too. Never a runner. But what made me want to leave a comment is the title: Forgive your body. That stopped me and made me realize I haven’t really forgiven this body of mine – for getting fat, out of shape, and oh, Lordy, older… mmmm, need to ponder and pray about this…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, much of what I have to forgive my body for is really things I have to forgive my mind for. Overeating, underexercising, not getting enough rest, etc. Not really my body’s fault in that! ha. But getting older in general…we need to cut ourselves some slack.

  21. laura

    I love all these pictures, Lisa :). I’ve slowed down a lot and I know there will come a day when I’m walking instead of running. As it is, I’m contend to be the slow turtle, enjoying my little runs while they last :). Loving my body through time can be challenging, but I’m grateful for all God has done and continues to do through this flesh I wear 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it amazing how God can continue to work through our flesh, despite how frail we can seem at times? It’s always a miracle to me.

      Enjoy your running, whatever the pace. I remember my mom telling me until the very end, that if needed, she could still run. 🙂


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