Temperature down around 10, blowing winds, snow on the ground……not exactly when most people think to go out for a run. But there I was all bundled up against the elements out there doing my thing, getting some time away from the noise and the constant calls and requests that are part of a busy life in sales and management. This is why I run, to get away, to have momentary times of escape where I can get away from a life that seems to be filled with critique.
We all receive them and sometimes it seems constant……the whole world seems to be in critique mode. In sales it comes as “you’re off 0.03% of your sales budget”, “your margins are way too low”, “you need to get out and sell more at higher margins” and only on very rare occasions do you get a good critique, somebody telling you what a fine person you are and how good you are doing. We turn on the TV and try to watch a football game and all we hear is how bad the quarterback is and why didn’t he do this and why doesn’t the coach do this. It’s like one constant critique and let’s not even get into politics……..OMG!!!!
What if there were a better way to approach life? What if we could discover a way to turn the critiques that will come our way into a message that fills us with wonder and a way to turn words that look and feel damning into something good? As I ran on this cold and windy day, taking a break from work I began to wonder if our world was full of critics who were constantly critiquing everything that happened in life and if they knew how to give positive feedback which I feel is of much more benefit to humanity as a whole. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 It is kind of stunning to think that Jesus could deliver this verse in the middle of a section where he is talking about vines and branches and delivers earlier a message that a vine can’t bear fruit by itself because I deeply desire joy and even more importantly I would like my joy to be complete or as the original Greek word describes “be complete” that joy would fill me as a net full of fish. In those times when the critiques of this world fill our every moment and sometimes cause us hurt and anger because people don’t see the sheer brilliance in what we are doing these are the times that we have to find that place that God has created for all of us to escape to, that place where once again we can be completely and overwhelmingly filled with joy, inescapable joy.
Living an ultra life is to overlook the critique as there is no time for critique to take the place of joy.
When we shift away from the constant critiquing that our society seems to wear like a badge of honor today we are able to begin to take stones out of our bag and leave them by the side of the trail. Nothing speaks to leaving the past in the past like complete joy. This joy comes in believing you are good and you were perfectly designed and that even if you’re not perfect in all you do that you are still pretty darn awesome. Once you are able to do this then you are able to look at how you critique others and realize how narrow-minded you are when you can look at somebody else and think you are above them or better than them or more educated than them. It is at this moment when the weight of the world begins to no longer affect you and joy becomes complete. The added bonus is that you become lighter on your feet, able to dance around the rocks coming downhill through the scree and you trip over roots and rocks less often and have joyous runs with the One who created you.