Learning to Breathe for a Marathon

By: Isaiah Friesen
June 07, 2017

The weekend just prior to the Christian Leadership Forum, I ran my first marathon ever. As a college cross country and track runner, I have long considered myself a distance runner. My routine 8k and 10k race distances, however, pale in comparison to the toll the marathon took on my body, mind, and spirit. I have since been relishing both the physical and the psychological break from running before I begin a new training cycle toward another fall cross country season.

At the Forum this week, many leaders have affirmed the necessity of space taken to rest, breathe, and discern.

In her final reflections during Thursday morning’s community conversation time, René August reminded us: “Social justice is not a sprint. It is a marathon. The difference in running the two is how you breathe. We have to learn how to breathe.”

As I reflected on René‘s statement, I could feel the truth of this metaphor in my very body. Yet I also experienced it as an affirmation of the life stage I find myself in, which is a season of considerable uncertainty. As I approach the end of college, I have poured energy in many different directions on my campus, from athletics to music to academics to social justice work, none of which presents a clear path for my future. This particular summer break between semesters are the least-planned months of my life since I was a small child.

Now, even though I’m tired and I know I need rest, I face a temptation to find work as soon as possible just for the sake of staying occupied (and maybe to prove that I’m truly committed to the ministry of social justice).

I’m grateful to René, as well as so many other people over the course of the Forum, who affirmed the need to breathe, to rest, to minister first to our families, and to discern next most faithful steps. I may have already run a literal marathon, but I still have a lot to learn about how to breathe as I seek to join the cloud of witnesses running a race that spans beyond our own lifetimes.



Photo: Christian Leadership Forum Featured Idealist René August engages with participants during the Community Exploration session.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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