Jesus, a Treadmill, & Me

I see me. I am running. Going nowhere. My feet pound, pound, pound the whirring belt. With a weak arm, I reach out and click the “increase speed” button. I watch the glowing numbers as they climb. I see the right side of my mouth rise slightly. Visage illuminated only by the red lights on the console. Legs treading at the unmerciful mill of productivity—grinding anxiety into a fine dust.

“Just… a little faster… Just… a little longer… Just… a little harder.”

Pound. Pound. Pound. 

I recall my list. Always a running list.  Rolling beneath my feet as I race to check things off. 

“Laundry. Exercise. Study. Podcast. Lunch. Practice. Call mom. Dishes. Read.”

Just… a little faster… Just… a little longer… Just… a little harder.”

Habitually, I reach out to that button which is no longer legible. 
I suck at the stale air, hoping this inhale will be the one to finally deliver peace to my lungs.
All this striving wears me out. It’s harder and harder to lift my feet. My lips are a desert leading to the wilderness of my throat. The arches of my feet are burning and tight. I can’t do it any longer. 
But I must. I extend an arm to extend my efforts one more time, but I never get the chance. Suddenly, my face runs into the numbers and I crash. Hard. None of my discipline has prepared me for this.

My rolling scrolling list roughly flings me backwards where I hug the chilled floor.

 I am crumpled in a heap, skin reddened and radiating. I groan. My face clings to the floor as I give one a single attempt to lift myself up. I couldn’t rush toward the prize any longer. I just…all of the sudden…couldn’t. My knees bear the evidence, and my side, and my right cheek. So I just stay there for a while. 

“I just need a little rest. I deserve it.” I attempt to suppress my wince as I speak.

I drag my arms toward another console. This one is in my pocket. I nominate a new novel glow to ease my pain. It is iridescent and intoxicating. Rolling scrolling down the list of posts ever running before my eyes.

“Just…a little longer… Then I’ll get back to it.”

I am slumped, shivering on the concrete. Always facing the glow, unable to look away for longer than a breath.
Avoiding what I’m avoiding. Hours upon hours. I am resting but there is no rest. Running from reality, I prostrate myself before the shimmering idol. 

Instead of taking a vital sabbath rest, the floor becomes my new home and I dwell there. Until at once, fear and rage boiled over. 
I  hurl my phone across the room. “Enough of this life-wasting!” I  hop onto the treadmill of accomplishment once again and I am off to the races. 

“I can do this!”

I swing the pendulum again from running lists to crashing fits and back again. I hurriedly get myself back up to speed, making up for lost time. 

“My, I have come so far, haven’t I? I used to be so depressed and useless. Now look at me!”

The soles of my sneakers graze the belt a little too early and I grab the console for balance. 

“Must… Not… Crash…” I push the words through my teeth.

I feel it before I see it. Instead of the harsh hardness of plastic, I clutch warm flesh within my clammy grasp. Nearly unable to raise my head, I peer through beads of sweat. I continue to stumble with the treadmill pushing me onward.

Realization spreads across my face. A man is standing in front of me. Who is He? One of His hands is moving. What is He doing? Click, click, click. 

Its barely perceptible at first, then undeniable. My legs aren’t stumbling as much as they were a moment ago. 

” I will give you rest,” He declares. 

The frantic humming of the machine beneath me changes pitch as it slows. The disruption is disorienting at first but gazing into the eyes of the man quickly grounds me.

“You were not accepted by me because you ran yourself to me. Nor is that what will keep you with me.”

I see my lips part slightly then pause. It seems I don’t need to speak for He knows my heart. 
The treadmill comes to a gradual halt. Halt is not the right word; it isn’t jarring as I’d always imagined it would be. Was this what I was working to avoid all of this time?
He held out his hand to me as I imagined a father would when helping his young child hop from stone to stone across a small creek.

“Come to me. I will give you rest.”

My feet tread the cement floor for the first time since I’d vainly peeled myself off it not long ago. The basement walls melt away and soft light pierces through the dinginess. As in a dream, I barely notice the transition from that prison to breathing fresh air. I arrive in a new world. Overwhelming, yet somehow simultaneously serene. Taking in this new creation infuses me with hope.

More trust. More rest. More delight. 

Together, we ascend a grassy mountain path. The Man speaks softly to me. 

“Striving is not the way. I am The Way. Sweating will make you thirstier. With Me, you will never thirst again.” 

The trail opens up to a calm stream. Light cascades down and reflects on the ripe fruit above.
Jesus spreads his arms upward. “Would you like something to eat?”
A delighted, unrestrained laugh draws my attention toward a group sitting in the shade. Planted and peaceful. 
I gesture toward them with raised eyebrows. “Do they live here?” 
“Yes. And so do I.”
He hands me a shiny fruit and I take a bite. Juice running down as I rest with Him.
 We are walking. Going nowhere in particular. Luscious grass peeks between my toes, a welcome embrace for my weary bones. 

“You’ve brought me so far…Look how high we’ve climbed!”

“Yes, my child. Welcome to a land where I am the light on your face and I am the wind beneath your feet. I am everything you need.”

I see my arm reach out and clutch His hand. Held by my Savior. I don’t need a console to console me anymore. Instead, I turn to His beaming face. I see both sides of my mouth climb high and I beam back.

More trust. More rest. More delight. 

Breanne is a native of New Brunswick, Canada who recently moved to brave life in Ontario. She loves everything outdoors including cycling, hiking, and kayaking. Breanne is passionate about teaching (especially children who need a little extra love and attention) and learning. You can follow Breanne’s poetry account on instagram @scen.ic.route and you can find her blog here!