a greater tolerance for chaos

click to fight“Every time I have the opportunity to sin, I have the opportunity to bear fruit of the spirit as well. In a momentary flash; I can choose self-control or allow my eyes to wander. I can choose kindness or let a bit of vindictiveness leak out. What determines which one wins? In my life it’s largely the level of incubation.” 

                       —Ron Martoia , morph! ,  2003


I read this paragraph in Ron’s book a few years ago, and again a few days ago. Then I did my favorite thing I do when I come across something I want to absorb for a while; I went for a run. A “business as usual” run except I turn down my headphones to a faint mumble (for background filler only), and allow my kooky brain to grind up what I have learned and make it relevant enough to apply to something that I am going through at the moment.

click to fightAs I was running, I experienced several distractions.

My legs were stiff and out of sync. There was major construction going on all through the main stretch of my favorite path that had caused some neglect to the regular maintenance that was performed along the way. I noticed some trash, cigarette boxes, and some other debris. It was drizzling and a bit chilly for October in Florida. I almost got hit by a kid on a bike and a woman in an SUV. My shorts were to loose and my ear buds would not stay in place. To top it off, one of my shoes was tied too tight and the other one had a pebble in it.

Then I looked up, and I was home.

Huh? Did I just run four miles? Where did the time go? Most importantly, how is it that I just set out to achieve something specific and 45 minutes have gone by and I didn’t accomplish half of what I set out to do?

click to fightThen it hit me; like an airhead driven Toyota Sequoia …

I was incubating in the crap I was surrounded by instead of my intentions. I could have just as easily focused on the experience at hand and avoided all of that other stuff, but I chose to concentrate on everything else BUT that. I actually chose to spend time in “disarray” as opposed to “peace”. I selected “chaos” instead of “structure”. I let the world dictate my thoughts and actions. I fell for it hook, line and “stinker”. (The stinker is the lady in the SUV. Do I seem a bit bitter?)

You:    “So what’s the big deal Charlie? You finished the run. You even made it easier by overting your attention. No one got hurt and you made your life easier. You should be satisfied, stop whining”

click to fightMe:      “But I am not better because of it”

You:    “What the heck are you talking about?”

Me:      “I’m so glad you asked!”

I set out to better understand that the choices I make have a direct effect on how my life pans out. More than that; the things I surround myself with will have a direct effect on my ability to focus on the task at hand. Most importantly, I have to choose what parts of my life to marinate in, and what parts to ignore and run past. I chose to incubate in the wrong environment and the result was a lack of concentration in everything else I did. I didn’t absorb my lesson, I finished in an embarrassing time for the distance I ran, and I was not a better person 45 minutes later.

Did you hear me? I finished, but poorly.

click to fightAre you distracted by something that you think is no big deal? Are you completing your goals and satisfied with your slow timing just because you can say you finished? Do you ever look back at the time you spent avoiding what you set out to do in the first place? Do you really think that you are not hurting anyone else by performing poorly?

Stop running poorly!

The run is your relationship with our God, wife, children, and family. Your concentration needs to be focused on the life lessons that make you the strongest for those situations. The distractions are specific to the individual but the struggle is the same for all of us.

What is it for you?

Is it gambling, food, sex, pornography, MySpace, work, exercise, cutting, shopping, blogging, or religion? If you don’t know what it is then ask the ones that you love and they will tell you; if you give them permission. Then, when you feel the tension building, your heart racing and your blood boiling; you’ll know that the real race is about to start…

click to fightMy wife and I have struggled in the past because I have proven to have a tendency to be addicted to one of those ugly things I listed above. I work hard at improving myself every single day. I love to run for my God, my wife, and my children. I work hard at staying focused on my duties to them, but I still am faced with garbage in the streets, bad weather, and women trying to strike me down with their monster trucks.

S0 what does a perfect run look and feel like for a humble servant of God, an honored husband of an adoring wife and a loved father of obedient children?

Focus and find out…



1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


5 Responses to a greater tolerance for chaos

  1. His Girl says:

    Wow. I so needed to read this right now. Not do to temptation but I think that often the background noise and other stuff can turn us from the important things in life. I have a half written blog that is waiting to be posted. I have a book I have been wanting to read, time playing with my children and the list goes on. Thank you.

  2. myolivebranch says:

    i too am easily distracted by things that are not what i really WANT to focus on. thanks for the reminder that it really IS my choice to allow that to happen or not. i don’t want to get to the end of my run and realize that i wasted today.

  3. Mike Ash says:

    good stuff bro…although I can hardly get my mind away from the ron martoia quote to think about your post…

  4. Anita Marie says:

    Ah, the voice of reason.
    Thank you Charlie.
    anita marie

  5. Mom says:

    I often lose sight of where I am running. Amazing how my son can teach me a lesson. I love you.

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