Six Days to the 5K: Why Try?

In six days, runners/walkers/limpers/crawlers from all over the world (honestly!  that’s not patented Cari hyperbole) will be participating in the first ever Catholic Exchange Virtual 5K.

Are you one of them?  Are you psyched?  Are you fit and toned and raring to go?

Yeah.  Me neither.  In fact, I haven’t run in over a week.  No workout tapes, no slow shuffles to the park- shoot, nothing.  In fact, other than a desperate speedwalk through the New Haven station to catch a train, I haven’t done thing one to improve my physical health.

But that’s ok.  Want to know why?

(Just say “yes”, because I’m going to tell you anyway.)

It’s ok because of something my priest told me in Confession last week.  And while I did not confess my dismal failure in the diet and exercise department, his council is still applicable.

After confessing the usual (honest to God, gossip?  Still?  You’d think I’d have rooted that one out by now if for no other reason than I’m so so tired of having to keep confessing it), Father says to me, “You know, sometimes it’s very easy to let our sins become anchors in our spiritual journey, weighing us down so much that we can’t progress forward.”  

Man, those priests are smart.  He was right, of course.  All these sins I carry around and confess and repeat and confess and repeat, ad infinitum, do often weigh me down.  I come out of the confessional feeling shiny and new, like I’ve lost the spiritual equivalent of two dress sizes.  Then, usually within 48 hours (50, if I manage to stay away from Facebook and email), I’ve gone on a sin-binge, and find myself full of self-loathing and pity.  The sins are anchors chained to my soul, and there will be no advancing in holiness because I’ve got myself some serious woe is me-ing to do.

Father’s suggestion to remedy this was embarrassing and painful and immediately labeled by me as “stupid”.

“Name some good things you’ve done this week,”  Father said.  Inwardly I groaned.  I wanted hair shirts and fasting, not pep talks.  But the request was a reasonable one, so I stifled a sigh and hesitantly mentioned the fact that I’d managed to feed my family all week, educate them, read to them (once or twice), and clean up after them.  From behind the screen, I could see the priest’s head nodding in approval.  He pointed out that these were all not only good things, but they were Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy.

Then he told me my penance was to continue focusing on the good that I do.  Which is the worst kind of penance for me, but what can you do?

So when I looked at my calendar the other day, and realized how quickly the 5K was coming, and how little I’d done to prepare for it, my immediate response was to launch myself into a shame-spiral.  I haven’t been working out.  I’m a failure.  The world is going to end because I’m lazy.  Why try?

Then I remember Father’s words, and I remember the anchor.  And I remember that we were created to have bodies and souls and the two interact with and influence each other by design. If I’m to strive growing in holiness despite my sinful nature, then I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to think that I should strive toward a healthy lifestyle despite my gluttony and sloth.

So even though I am not as fit and toned as I expected myself to be when I first proposed this run, I’m still raring to go.  Because right now is a new moment.  Right now I can decide to focus on the good things I’ve done, and with firm resolve attempt to move forward.  Three-point-one miles forward.  And I’m excited about it.  Because at the end of it, I will print up my fabulous graphic, tape it to a t-shirt and take a goofy picture of me in it.

I hope you will, too.

(and send me the picture, so I can include it in my post-race article here next week).

Anchors away!!

Cari Donaldson

By

Cari Donaldson is the author of the upcoming book Pope Awesome and Other Stories . She stepped through the looking glass when she married her high school sweetheart in a Presbyterian ceremony back in 1999. Since then, she and her husband have found themselves the parents of six children, and on the corporate gypsy trail, with transfers moving them from the Midwest to the deep South to New England. The most startling developments however, have been the conversion to Catholicism in 2006, and the discovery that blogging provides an excellent creative outlet. You can find Cari on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/clan.donaldson and Twitter at @CariDonaldson and here on Catholic Exchange.

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  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    But no! That means I can’t use my “I’m a lazy, slothful turd” excuse! Fie on you, Donaldson. Fie!

  • Guest

    Yay! This is the beginning of many good things things I think! Imagine the metaphors we can come up with after this run, and before the one! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.j.james1 Jennifer Jaworski James

    Yay! Cari, team coach!! I think this may be the beginning of a great thing for we Catholics out in the world! We’ll be a visible sign of strength, persistence, and hope in a world of yuck! Plus, we’ll feel better!

  • http://www.facebook.com/glenna.bradshaw.5 Glenna Bradshaw

    “Sin as anchors”…what a kind way of putting that…I keep that confessor if I were you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=627168378 Melanie Prine Donaldson

    oh no, it is still on the horizon??? I thought I had missed it and it was behind me, just another thing I planned to do and didn’t do…. Now, I have to put it on the calendar and do it !!

  • http://twitter.com/khouriajen jen

    Doing really well with the limping and crawling. Walking is meh. Running isn’t happening — my philosophy is that I only run when chased.

  • Ellen Johnson

    Cari, I appreciate your honesty and candor! I know I’m technically ready for Saturday, but I’m not as fit as a fiddle as I was hoping I’d be by now. I guess I had this rosy vision of me dropping 20 pounds and being super svelte and not a smige postpartum. But, I’m not. I’m still me, I can just run a 5k now. But I know that this is a huge accomplishment for me and I need to look at the positives (as you said in this post) and keep with it. Thank you for the reminder :)

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