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The Bored Meeting

Running isn’t my god, it’s where I meet God, a place where grace and the human will collide. Some people go to church, but church isn’t their god. Some people pray, but it doesn’t replace deity. Meditation facilitates peace but it itself is not peace.

Jason and his wife take Freddy and Katie to church on Sunday mornings, a ritual that the kids aren’t totally thrilled about. Last night as Katie and I were coming back from Wonder Woman (she saw it–not me), she asked me if I thought that it was bad that her dad forced them to go to church. Her question opened up a really great conversation between the two of us and then it got me thinking about it even more all day today.

I used to go to church all the time. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and throughout the week I’d go to either Wee College or when I was older, youth group, college group, and Bible studies. Can you spot me? Just look for the huge hair.

This is me and my sister Lori with DC Talk. Did any of you guys listen to them? I used to own a black tee-shirt that read: “Down with the one-way possé.”

I attended a Christian private school and then earned my BA at a local Christian University. When Jake, Freddy and Katie were little, Jason and I would pack snacks, sippy cups, books, and small toys and bring the kids along to church with us.


Since then, I stopped going. I actually found a church I love, but church stopped being a place where I could relax into my faith; it started obstructing it. It’s nobody’s fault–as much as I’d love to cast blame, I can’t! Because for all the idiotic Christians out there, there are just as many golden ones. It’s not about the church, or the people that go there, or the specific prayers, verses, meditations, or rituals. To me, it’s about finding a place where grace and the human will collide. And quite frankly, it’s happened to me in the darkest places with the weirdest people during the most bizarre moments and while circumstances are such that my life is never short on Maury Povich-type scenes, I’d rather hightail it to the God-meeting in my running shoes. Just a personal preference.

I can’t make my kids run, I can’t make them go to church, and I most certainly can’t force them to have a relationship with God, or with the cat, for that matter. But I can show them how to be willing.

Do you go to church? Why or why not? Would you force your kids to go to church? Why or why not?

Is running (or working out) a spiritual experience for you, or just a sweat-fest?




{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Allie Capo-Burdick June 22, 2017, 3:26 am

    I love your philosophy on this as a woman who spent every waking moment from 5-17 in Catholic school and church. As soon as the decision was mine, I never went again. When I run by a crowded church on Sunday I think ‘I’m also at church’ and I have a relationship with “God” in my own way now and on my own terms. Love this.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 7:32 am

      YES! And I admit that I also exhale with relief when I see that crowded lot of cars, that mine isn’t one of them and that I’m out here and not in there. AHHHHHH.

  • Amy Lauren June 22, 2017, 7:48 am

    There’s a country song you should listen to, it’s called Saltwater Gospel. The singer basically equates the beach to his church. It makes me think about what church really is; it’s not a religious building or even necessarily a body of people- it has a different meaning to every person.

    I went to church regularly in high school. I was a leader in a college ministry in college. And yes, I listened to DC Talk. In high school, my school and church were pretty conservative, strict, hardcore fundamentalist. Thankfully it wasn’t like that in college and I came to my senses. I’m still a believer but rarely go to church anymore; I used to go to a church down here that was progressive and inclusive, and I liked it, but I started running with a group on Sundays. The church never seemed to miss me, but if I miss group run a few Sundays, people text me and ask where I am. They genuinely seem to care, so I keep going. Church of the Sunday Long Run.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 8:32 am

      Yes, there’s just something about the running community that bridges all the gaps. It’s like a religion of sorts, but an inclusive one. We have no rules–we just do whatever works for us in our journey to become healthier people. One person may run a zillion miles, another person hardly any. One person wears Vibram Five Fingers, another wears their grandmother’s Adidas shoes from 1987. Some of us swear by a vegan diet, others replenish with beer and hot wings. But we’re all still able to meet and run together with no judgement, just camaraderie. YAY!

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes June 22, 2017, 9:02 am

    I go to church every Sunday (or Saturday night) – my parents made me go when I was younger and somehow it stuck (but I did convert when I was 23 from Lutheran to Catholic). I stopped going weekly during some time in college because the Lutheran services at college didn’t engage me. But then when I started going to Catholic church, I went back to attending weekly. In some ways it’s like running: a familiar routine that is both comfortable and challenging. Sometimes I don’t want to go, just like how sometimes I don’t want to run, but I always feel better when I do.
    But I also pray all the time when I run – it’s much easier for me to engage in mental prayer when my body is moving, because then my mind can be still can focus. I’ll do the rosary on my fingers or just let my thoughts flow to God during the run. There’s a deep spirituality to running, I think – sort of like how the Benedictines found God in work during the early Middle Ages or St. Francis saw God in nature.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 9:27 am

      Your comment reminded me of something my mom would always say to me when I was a kid and didn’t feel like going to church that day. Maybe I was super tired, or grumpy, or whatever. She’d assure me that going to church that particular day would be far more rewarding than if I were to go to church when I felt like it. She worded it in a much more Christianese way with lots of Jesus/Satan/Soul references, but when I became an adult, I was (am) able to look at the underbelly of what she was saying and appreciate it for what it is: love shows up when we struggle, not when it’s easy. Love is sacrifice. A peaceful easy feeling is often a by-product of love but it is most certainly not love itself; it’s just a feeling. So when you say you didn’t want to go but forced yourself to go, you’d always feel better after you went. And hey–isn’t that like running too? St. Francis really had it going on!

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run June 22, 2017, 9:14 am

    Hmmm so I had to think about this one because you know I don’t go to church and I am an atheist, but I know some people who are not religious still describe themselves as “spiritual”. I wouldn’t say I am spiritual at all, or maybe I am just saying that because to me that word has religious connotations behind it, although I also think it is a word in which some people sort of change the meaning a bit so it describes what exactly they mean.

    Now that is not to say I don’t do a lot of deep thinking on my runs. It’s definitely a cross between “zone out” time and a time I am thinking really hard about things… what kind of person I want to be, what I want to accomplish in my life, how I can better understand/interact with people who think differently than I do… and of course the last several months I have been thinking A LOT about the state of our country, my position on important issues, WHY I think a certain way, why OTHERS think a certain way… So yeah, my running is a cross between focusing on a silly murder podcast or just solving all of the world’s problems and all of my problems… all in about 45 minutes!

    We went to Sunday school for a couple weeks. My parents weren’t religious at all but I think my dad’s parents wanted us to go to Sunday school so we did. I remember coloring pictures of Jesus, singing “Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world”… getting to tour an ambulance for some sort of field trip… When my dad’s parents would baby-sit us, my grandma made us say prayers before we went to bed. “Now say your prayers” she would tell me and put my hands together. Even though I was young, I remember feeling VERY AWKWARD being made to say prayers. We didn’t say prayers in my house and it felt weird to pretend something I didn’t believe.

    Now Paul’s family was opposite. They were DEEPLY involved in the church for years and years. He is an atheist too and he told me (I forgot when, probably before we got married) that he remembered being a kid and sitting in church and listening to all of the stories and he thought to himself, “This is bullshit. This isn’t real.” Isn’t that strange!? Why do most people go to church and end up believing in everything (maybe not literally but you know what I mean) and some kids like Paul are like “No way, I don’t relate to this at all.”

    I like that nowadays many people (like you) feel more comfortable having a relationship with a god or gods in their own way without necessarily going to church to do it. Not because I don’t think church is good, but because I think it lets people in a way have the relationship mean more because it’s more organic and not like a herd mentality telling you what your relationship should be like. Not that all churches are like that or anything, but do you see what I am trying to say? I am sure you get my drift but could probably say it more eloquently!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 9:22 am

      You worded it perfectly–I understood everything! I LOOOOOVE it when you comment big ones, and especially on this topic. I like talking about what makes people behave and think the way they do because it really fascinates me. I’m a curious person, so these subjects appeal to me.

      My experience with life in general but especially when it comes to Christianity is that it seems like people’s thoughts and behaviours are either driven by love or by fear. Like, once everything else is boiled away, what’s usually left is love or fear. A lot of Christians are Christians because they’re afraid of what might happen to them if they’re not. I’m not sure Jesus himself would approve, but that would just be MY silly little human interpretation and assumption! All I know is that fear sucks because it influences us to do a lot of hurtful stuff. Thinking and behaving out of love, however, looks entirely different. Your thoughts while you’re running are a lot more love-based than a lot of Christians thoughts during a church service. I can say this because I have been in both places. 🙂 You’re working on what you can do to confront hell, and they’re working on what they can do to avoid it.

  • jade June 22, 2017, 11:03 am

    Loved this post, thank you… your opinion on this is exactly mine to a T. I was raised going to church every Sunday and now I feel the most spiritual running on trails in nature. I’m trying to gather the the courage to send this to my mom to try and explain how I feel.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 11:34 am

      Hey Jade! Is your mom open to how you feel about this? Has she asked you to try and explain it to her? The reason why I ask is because sometimes we can create MORE tension in relationships by doing this. Like, okay, so my mom pushes Christianity onto me all the time, so much, that although she’s doing it out of a good place, it still creates tension and distance between us. She gave me a devotional book once that made me want to go out and buy her a bottle of wine (she hasn’t taken a sip of alcohol in her entire life). It’s different if I go to her and ask her for advice/info on her way of life, and it’s different if she comes to me and asks me what I drink with dinner or why I don’t go to church. Then? It’s fair game. 🙂 But she knows by now not to ask, and I know by now not to ask her, because then she gets her hopes up and I don’t want to hurt her because I love her. We just agree to disagree, and we have lots of other things we DO agree on, and we have a good time with those. <3 Did that make any sense? I dunno. I'd just hate for you to go to her, share your heart, share this post and then have her be like... no, Jade--you're wrong (or whatever she'd say). Sometimes it's better to just live it out. If she stumbles upon this post printed out and lying on your coffee table, then well, that's a different story. 😉 LOL

  • Susie @ Suzlyfe June 22, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Horses and the barn were my church. Driving has been church for me. Now running and walks with Ridley and Alex are my church. Church is wherever you go to find your inner and higher self.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 2:50 pm

      Ya! Exactly! It’s not confined to a thing, but transcends everything!

  • molly rose June 22, 2017, 2:50 pm

    YASSSS to DC talk… haha throwback!

    I grew up in church, every Sunday, and it’s where I met the majority of my friends. We still keep in touch & are actually heading out west for a reunion trip next month! What’s funny about this group is this: we were all church-goers, do-gooders, guilty-feeling Christian girls for anything that we were told all life to say no to. And here we all are… in incredibly unassuming stages of life right now. None of us go to church. But that doesn’t mean for a second we don’t have our faith or don’t believe what we once did. But “church” forced a mind set for us, and I don’t believe in that mind set. Personally, I have no idea if I will raise my kids in church (just 5 years ago I’d be shocked at that statement). I wish I would’ve made more mistakes back when I was younger; wish I didn’t have such a tunnel vision. No regrets, but when I think about how I raise my children, these are things I think about. Does any of this make sense? And I’m only one vodka soda in here….

    Running is my thinking/praying/me time. So yes. There is definitely a spiritual aspect to running for me. Along with stretching/dancing to some chill music. Currently playing as I type: The Buzz by Hermitude

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 3:27 pm

      Ooooh sick song. I love it. And yeah, I totally know exactly what you’re saying! You’re speaking my language! I wish we could meet on a patio somewhere and have some drinks and talk about all of this some more. Powered by a double chocolate muffin and an ice coffee, here are my profound thoughts:
      1- I don’t like church and I don’t want to drag my kids there BUT GUESS WHAT…I really like who I am today and I attribute a lot of it to the fact that I grew up in a Christian environment, because if I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t have been taught the good stuff along with all the weird ass brainwashing shit. Now that I’m an adult, I can filter through the bs, right? And scoop out the gold. But if I hadn’t grown up in it, I wouldn’t have had the chance to sort through it.
      2- So, by me not forcing my kids to go to church, I’m possibly robbing them of the golden nuggets because I’m not offering them anything.
      3- HOWEVER. I should be living out the gold here, and now, at home and in the van and in WalMart and on social media. LIVING IT OUT. Not white-knuckling it until Sunday morning comes along in the hopes that someone more qualified than me might teach them.
      4- Also. I have rubbed shoulders with many, many many many many MANY MANY church people, pastors, and pastors wives, and more often than not (maybe even 100% of them–I’ll never tell) would confess things to me that would get them fired at the church. So, they were living double lives. They were preaching one thing, and living another. If I wanted to expose my kids to that, I’d just stay home. HA HA!!!! Jk jk.
      5- I need wine for more than 4 profound thoughts but I gotta wait 8 more weeks.

  • Helly June 22, 2017, 7:11 pm

    This is conversation we’d need to have over Coronas and XX

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 22, 2017, 8:12 pm

      For you, let’s make it all XX.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets June 23, 2017, 7:17 am

    All exercise is kind of a spiritual thing for me. It’s soul cleansing, it’s ‘me’ time, it’s refreshing, it’s challenging. I’m not sure God is there, but I know it makes me feel good, and I think he/she would be down with that.

    Despite being raised Catholic, I don’t go to Church. I’m all for faith and religion, whichever one you want, but I’m not down with some of the Catholic church’s teaching so I feel like going would make me a hypocrite, so I don’t. You can still have faith outside a church.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 23, 2017, 9:54 am

      Yeah! Totally! Whatever floats your boat! <3

  • Ana June 23, 2017, 8:21 pm

    I like the way you wrote this !

    My mom had your same mentality, she took Us to church, but didn’t force us to go. My grandfather used to make us question religion and the church.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 24, 2017, 11:34 am

      It’s good to have different types of people and worldviews in our lives! When I was first pregnant for the very first time, I read ALL the pregnancy and baby books from one extreme to the other and then I was able to make up my OWN mind about how I wanted to parent. I wholly appreciate each person’s perspective.

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