I run. Intermittently, but I do run. I ran a marathon a few years ago and I’m training to run another one in June (Utah Valley Marathon, if you are interested). I’m not always certain that this is a good thing.
One example, about a year ago, I was running around a track and listening to the scriptures on an mp3 player. At the time, I was listening to Alma 30. I realized, as I was running, that I believed a lot of things that Korihor believes. I believe that we are often pretty much on our own, that our success in life is determine by our will in a lot of things. I believe that people make up their own morality, for better or for worse. I believe that independence is a sign of mental and emotional strength. Being a mormon universalist, I also think that a lot of what we consider sin doesn’t ultimately alter our status with God.
I had to stop running. I sat down on a bench. I have thought many things about myself over the years, but I have never considered myself anti-Christ or an Anti-Christ. It came like a physical blow.
Eventually, I decided that what I believe came from what I believed about Christ and, however wayward my personal beliefs may be, I believe in Christ. I’m willing to be wrong about most everything but Him (and the Book of Mormon, but that’s not relevant). Korihor preached against Him and I don’t, no matter what. So, whatever my many faults may be, being an anti-Christ isn’t one of them. But I had to sit and go through this rationalization in order to find myself again. I feel the need to note that I felt the Spirit in this process, so I don’t think it was just rationalization, but you’ll probably just have to take my word on that.
I was reminded of this on Monday. On Monday, even though I have a cold, I ran 10 miles. Maybe running is overstating it (mostly I walked), but I traveled ten miles by foot. It took two and a half hours. I did it because I needed to do it in order to keep my training schedule up (I had slacked the previous week on my long run due to time constraints). So I forced myself to do it.
I mention this because on Sunday, with the same cold, I resentfully went to church. I thought that I was lucky that my daughter was sick, because it meant that I could come home after sacrament and switch with my wife. Because I shouldn’t have to go to church, because I am sick.
At this point in the post, I wonder what is wrong with me. I generally like church. I often feel the Spirit when I go. I also often don’t, but I do believe in the possibility that I could every time. I like my fellow congregants. Yet I thought of being sick as giving my a get-out-of-church-free card, while I also thought that I had to push through the exhaustion and run the 10 miles (okay, walk the ten miles).
I’d like to rationalize this by saying that I go to church with people, while I generally run alone, so the chance of affecting others with my cold germs is more minimal while running. But I sat through sacrament (touching the tray) and I ran in a gym (where the sweat just gets circulated around), so I’m skeptical. Also, I never consciously thought about that in any way.
Instead, I felt more obligated to exercise than I felt to go to church. That is problematic to me. It feels like my priorities are wrong. I know that I like that I can easily measure my progress in exercise. Each week I can run/walk farther and, often, a little bit faster. At church, my progress is more sputtery and less measurable. Hopefully, I get better each week, but the jury is out on that and I am a lousy judge.
I can see the changes in my body. I lose weight, my legs get stronger. Even at my best self, I’ve never seen Christ’s image in my countenance, just mine. I’m not sure that that’s something I can see anyway (wouldn’t that defeat the purpose?).
So, I continue to value the physical over the spiritual. I know that, as Mormons, I’m supposed to deny the dichotomy but in spite of my professed beliefs, my actions seem to belie that. I certainly don’t feel like I find God in running. Although, having said that, it does seem to cause me to repent.