A few days ago, I was staying in the country outside of Rome. I stayed in the house a friend’s, fiancé’s, 3rd cousin. Italian families are incredible. Most families live together (grandparents, kids, everyone), and eat together often. One evening Alessandro (friend’s, fiancé’s, 3rd cousin’s father) came into my room and asked if I would enjoy going on a run with him. Now I am not a runner by any means. I enjoy playing basketball, other sports, and I frequent the gym, but running is not something I would say I particularly enjoy. But at this point I had been traveling for 3 weeks with little to no physical activity, so I said I would join. During this trip, there have been a fair amount of instances where details get literally lost in translation. This is mostly due to the dismal amount of Italian I have learned. Alessandro speaks a little bit of English as well, but it seams both of us only know enough to frustrate ourselves in conversation. Regardless of my minimal Italian, I swear on my mothers apple pie (sorry mom) that he said “short” before “run”. But this my friends is definitely not the case.
The run started off just fine, relatively easy pace up and down the hills of the Roman Countryside. The first indicator of my impending doom was when Alessandro mentioned that he participates in ‘maratona’. I had no idea what maratona was until he started to list off; Rome maratona, Boston maratona, New York maratona. At this point I was getting worried, because we had already run about 5 kilometers (3 miles) and I was feeling pretty good about my performance (ready to be finished). I asked the dreadful question: how much more are we running? Alessandro (very cleaver man) told me “per la strada bianca” (to the white street). Well; we ran over hills, through fields, dodged running cows, a million mosquitos, past a church that was a few hundred years old, finally reaching a white street (with an incredible sunset). I felt like Forest Gump (this is probably because Alessandro kept calling me Forest Gump). He then said “now we go home”. Soaked with sweat and jello legged I (and superman Alessandro) finished running and had completed a little over 13 kilometers (8 miles). I know that is not much for some, and I have quite a bit more respect for marathon runners now as I am obviously not one.
Overall I enjoyed going on a “short” run with Alessandro the marathon runner. I think life is better when we are open to doing things that are foreign to us. You can find new and incredible parts of life when you say ‘yes’ more often. Your body may hurt for a few days, and you may throw up some particularly interesting looking oysters you had in Rome (story for a different day), but you recover and are better for it.
The last few days I have been thinking a lot about Christians and how they are viewed by the world. What I have seen is a religion defined by what they are against. We are people defined by being against drugs, against alcohol, against abortion, against homosexuals, against science. Rarely have I seen Christians being defined by putting others needs ahead of their own, or loving the marginalized, or loving people who look different than them.
I want to be a person defined by who Jesus is, rather than what I say no to. I want to live a life fully and freely for God’s glory. I absolutely disagree on a moral level with a lot of things that go on in this world, but I wont be shouting it through a megaphone anytime soon.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?…” -Jesus