Just Where Do You Think You’re Going? Lessons in Anger {& Running}

Foggy damp morning on the island. I do love the pavement here--it's the first year my feet have pounded it alongside my husband's...
Foggy damp morning on the island. I do love the pavement here–it’s the first year my feet have pounded it alongside my husband’s…

My love for running came from a great capacity to feel anger. In the days before I could drive, and then in the days when I could drive but my car was confiscated, I spent hours pounding the pavement on country roads. When the summer air was thick and wet, when honeysuckle filled my lungs and teased my tongue, I ran, stretching my stride in this small freedom.

During our hard years of marriage, when I couldn’t face my man because his face reminded me I was in this for life, I ran. I learned to love the numbness gifted by bitter South Dakota mornings as cold permeated bone. Once home, I’d slip back in under the covers, secretly using my husband’s body heat to thaw from the outside in. I don’t know how many runs it took, but slowly our marriage thawed as well; slowly warmth returned–this time from the inside out.

In the early days of an unexpected pregnancy, I ran—never able to escape the vision of the prison growing inside this time. As my body swelled and my energy waned, I wanted to rebel against my body—but who was I running from? Myself. Several months later, my body expelled the very person who I believed imprisoned me and it was true—she’s held me captive since the moment I saw her.

The truth is that when I’m angry, I run. I hardly think about the direction I’m headed. I hardly think about those behind me.  I just run until my mind is clear. I run until I find space around me and within me. For in that space I am teachable again. In that space my own anger crumbles. Into that space I invite God.

Of course I’m raising runners. I expect nothing different. What I didn’t expect was my inability to handle their fight-and-flight responses to conflict. In those moments when their faces are turned from me and the distance between us dwarfs our similarities–in those moment of anger when we act so much alike–I am ensnared by insecurity. I measure my own failures. I fear I’m replicating circumstances from my own childhood. I wonder if anger can suffocate love.

And as they run, I’m left standing, doubting, silently calling them back to me and willing them to look over their shoulder.

I hardly have the heart to parent myself.

And yet I know  I can do this because parenting is nothing about perfection and everything about presence.


This morning, I was eating toast and yogurt, surrounded by chaos and whispering prayers for people as they came to mind. I had one child upstairs in time out and I knew she was furious with me because her time out had been over for ages and yet she still refused to exit her room. She was so mad, she’d surrender freedom just to keep from being near me.

And I realized that the Lord puts up with runners {and isolaters} all the time.

How does He do it?

How does he watch the children he loves so dearly run from him in anger? How does he watch our feet pound pavement, furious with who he is or how he does things?

And as I type this, I am reminded in a whisper: It is in these moments my omnipresense is most precious to me—the moments when you turn to go, but I am never forced to leave you alone. 

One attribute. One quality. One part of Himself that ensures He never has to leave us alone–even when we want nothing more than to be far from Him. I have to believe that it’s in the knowledge of His own presence that He finds peace when His children run.

I want to be more like that–I want to gift the freedom my children need, confident that I run with them in some simple way. I want my parenting to have one strong takeaway. The line, “My mother always taught me…”

What is that one phrase that will summarize the theme of how I raise humanity? What is one part of myself that can run with my children as they find their own stride? I will never obtain omni-presence, and for this everyone, everywhere is forever grateful. But still, what is that one thing I want parallel to my name in their memories?


I need some space to reflect on this. Where are my running shoes?




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