Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been listening and re-listening to podcasts by our church’s pastor about how to pray, and in one episode, he jokingly dared us to open a letter or respond to the question “How are you?” with a line as grand and bursting with praise as the opening of Ephesians.
But really: How great is a God who gives us all that we really need?
Husband and I ran the Georgia Half Marathon this weekend, and it was SO fun. However, the weeks leading up to it weren’t so fun. Between daily stress from our jobs, the usual family issues, and working to settle into our home, it seems like we’ve been having tiffs every day:
Me: “Unpack your boxes. Why do you have so much stuff? No, do NOT stuff your backpack in the corner of the dining room. Do not stuff your t-shirts in the back of that closet, either! These are from high school – do you even wear these anymore? Where has all this stuff been hiding since we got married?! Do you care if I put this painting in the hallway?”
Him: “No. Please stop talking. You talk too much.”
Training for this race was spotty on my end – a weak mix of speed intervals at the gym during lunch and a couple long-ish runs on weekends. Husband ran a handful of times in the month leading up to the race. This half will be rough, I thought. No way am I going to achieve my now year-long goal of a sub-1:50 half. I don’t have the endurance.
Husband doesn’t care about this race, either, I fumed further. Look at how little he has trained! He thinks he’s going to just saunter out on the course and tackle those hills? He’ll do it, but he’s going to be so slow. I could take this run easy and run with him, but I don’t really want to. He hasn’t wanted to do things with me lately: no training together, no weekend dates. We walked home from dinner separately for two miles because we had such a heated disagreement over a political topic.
Ten days before this race, I felt so worn down from the daily tit-for-tat with him that I took off my wedding band and threw it at him as he sulked in bed.
Not proud of that, and I don’t recommend pitching fine jewelry that is supposed to be a symbol of undying, God-ordained love across a room. Especially because when I looked for the ring to put it back on, I couldn’t find it.
One of the things I love most about my husband is that he’s not easily angered. And he doesn’t hold grudges. When I couldn’t find my wedding ring, he helped me tear the house apart and scour the yard looking for it. He took turns with me watching our dogs relieve themselves, in case one of them had eaten it off the floor. He listened to me wail about that little silver band, and offered hugs. Not once did he shake his head at me or otherwise express disappointment or smugness that not only did I lose my ring, but I lost it after chucking it at him.
Meanwhile, I was nearly in tears that I had so temperamentally lost my ring. My plain wedding band is one of the only jewelry pieces I wear while running, and I felt naked without the ring. How would I show the world I’m married? As silly as that may sound – I don’t need a material thing to be married; I’m blessed with a real, live husband! – I flushed with embarrassment when I thought about how I might have to explain the missing adornment on my left hand in person and in photos from the race. If friends didn’t notice, my mother surely would.
Another verse from the prayer podcast gradually surfaced in my mind as the week dragged on: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3).
Everything we need. A redeemed life. A patient husband. A warm home with enough stuff and rooms that a ring can become lost in it. Two jumping, licking dogs to whom I want to give the side-eye because one of them may or may not have eaten and deposited my ring in the bushes. But here they are fanatically greeting me at the door as if they thought I was never, ever coming home. I have what I need.
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. 2 Peter 5-9 (MSG)
We just need to give Him glory. Recognize His goodness. See what is good in our life. Offer Him praise for that. There’s always something to offer praise about.
I don’t need that ring to still love my husband. I just need to recognize what’s good about him, and love him for that. I need to run this half with him, and simply enjoy the fact that I’m alive, I am loved, and I am able to run 13.1 miles, no matter the pace. And if the race medals are pretty, that’s just extra blessing in an already lavish life.
We had such a good time. No rain this year, but a chilly morning that bloomed into a gorgeous sunrise and a sunny day perfect for running. I didn’t set a time goal; our primary goal was to enjoy the race. So we ran at an easy 9:40 pace, walked nearly every water stop, and permitted ourselves to walk half of mile 10 while sipping an IPA some nice gentlemen were offering runners on the sidewalk. We exchanged excited hugs with a friend we spotted at the start line then hugged some more friends who came out to cheer us at mile 3. We took a selfie overlooking the city at mile 4 and high-fived our way through the cheer zones.
This was the first half I didn’t try to go as fast as I could. There’s nothing wrong with striving for a fast pace, but this time, I’m so glad I relaxed and made myself focus on my husband and more of the race than just my wristwatch.
Around mile 11, Husband smiled and said, “Two more miles. I can’t believe you’ve dragged me this far.”
“You love it,” I replied.
“Yeah, I do. I love running with you,” he admitted.
We crossed the finish line hand in hand in 2:14 – faster than I thought we’d finish. Maybe taking a race easy is the way to go for a future fast time!
This race, and running in general, isn’t a panacea for our marriage. That’s what our faith is for. We’ll still have frustrating moments. We’ll still feel like walking away, or chucking something, or not doing anything at all. But through the grace and goodness of God, there will always be something to give praise about and love each other for.
The medals from the race are really good: big, round, and with a scene from our city. However, not as good as my missing ring, which I was still thinking about. Then yesterday, while putting up our medals and cleaning the house, I found it while sweeping beneath a side table.
Woooooooo! Thank you God!
I have no idea how it landed there, but it doesn’t matter. It’s back on my finger and not coming off any time soon.