Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Making strides

The best thing about being married to a smart, caring counselor is that she understands me. And the worst thing? That she understands me. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to hide, which is something I spent a good chunk of my life doing.

But in five years of marriage, I have learned a couple of things. First, that “okay” is not a feeling. Second that it’s not possible to be thinking about “nothing.” Busted on both accounts!

Learning new ways of relating takes practice, though, kind of like a new runner training for a race. Some days you get hot and sweaty and out of breath, and think you’re going to die of a heart attack. Some days you get rubbed in tender places. But if you keep at it, over time you begin to take things in your stride more easily.

Part of the process involves overcoming bad habits you may have picked up along the way. It might take someone from the outside to see where you’re going wrong. Maybe one of your feet turns out to one side, affecting your landing, or your stride is too long.

This kind of insight is helpful, but it isn’t enough in itself. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to fall back into the old ways and revert to what you have done instinctively for so long. After all, it may be limiting, but it’s gotten comfortable.

But once someone has pointed out where you are going wrong, it’s down to you to work on correcting things. That can mean over-focusing on something for a time, until it becomes a bit more second-nature.

Whenever I get discouraged about slow progress as a runner or a would-be grown-up, I find hope in the example of the disciples, who were a pretty motley crew. Doubters, deceivers, and dissemblers, all jockeying for position and prestige. Yet Jesus didn’t give up on them.

Thankfully, we don’t have to stay stuck in our old patterns and ways. Just as a running coach can help us develop a better gait, Jesus can teach us how to walk better with Him and with others. Being married to a counselor can help, too.

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