4 Non-Biblical Lessons People Can Learn from Jonah

Most people have heard about the story of Jonah being saved from the belly of whale. In the story, Jonah is sent by God to preach to the city of Ninevah, Israel’s most hated enemy, in hopes that they will turn from their wicked ways. Jonah refuses and goes to hide out on a ship. In a turn of events, God sends a destructive storm, and Jonah is forced to reveal that he angered God by disobeying him. Jonah’s fellow sailors then throw him overboard where he is eaten by a large fish. Jonah prays for three days and nights while in the belly of the whale, and he is later then thrown up. For most, this is where the story ends. Jonah’s faithful repentance led to God’s grace. While there are valuable lessons that can be learned from this aspect of the story, what we fail to learn in Sunday school is that Jonah was kind of a whiny baby. Once he repented, Jonah preached about a forthcoming destruction to the city and how all of its people needed to repent to God in order to be saved. To his great surprise, Jonah listened. And God kept the promise. Jonah, however, was upset that God saved Israel’s greatest enemy, and he made no effort to conceal these feelings. Too often, we find ourselves like Jonah. We disobey, we repent, and then we fail to change the condition of our own hearts. I think there is a lot to take away from Jonah’s story. Of course, we learn the extent of God’s grace, but there is also a lot to be learned on how to be just be a decent human being.

 

  1. You are not the center of the universe. Yep. Believe it or not, there are other people who live on this earth besides YOU. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Too often, we become upset or angry when other people receive something we think we deserve. Or we act as though we are the kindest, the most generous, or the most righteous when in reality there are people doing things just as significant as us. Jonah exhibited this upon preaching to the Ninevites. Once his job was done, and the city of Ninevah was saved, Jonah became angry that God had delivered His promise. Jonah was upset that once-evil Ninevah had received God’s grace, and Israel received ‘nothing.’ Thus, Jonah believed that he, along with the rest of Israel, were the only people worthy of God’s mercy.
  2. Everyone has the ability to change. This is hard to face because let’s be real – you don’t want other people to change. We want to continue to be the person who everyone else wants to model. We want our stories to matter more than someone else’s. We want to continue to hate that person for something they did ten years ago. But, as bluntly as I can put it – people change. That athlete who took steroids fifteen years ago? Completely clean now. That criminal who is serving time in prison? Yep, that’s right – they’ve gotten a degree in pyschology and have come to know Jesus. The same is true with the town of Ninevah. Once the center of evil and all hate toward Israel, after hearing Jonah preach about death and destruction that was to come, the people changed the conditions of their hearts. The only one who didn’t change was Jonah.
  3. Life is too short to not be happy for other people. This is so huge. Too often, we spend time being jealous or angry about other people’s accomplishments. I specifically remember being so jealous of this one runner who I didn’t even have to compete against! In the course of one year, she transformed herself from a mediocre runner to one of the best in the state. She ran faster than I ever had. And I was envious because her training mirrored mine. I didn’t understand how she had gotten so much faster than me, and I was so envious that I forgot to be happy for her. I neglected to think about the changes she made to get from point A to point B. While I should have been happy that she stumbled upon the my amazing coaches just in time for her last track season, I was not. I wonder what God thinks when He delivers to the faithful, and we go and pout in the corner because we think we’re not frustrated. I can imagine God feeling quite frustrated. And yet, a very similar scenario occurred when God saved the Ninevites. Like in the way that I provided insight to this girl on how she could run faster, Jonah preached to Ninevah about what they had to do in order to save their city. Also like me, Jonah was upset when the Ninevites actually listened to him. It just doesn’t make sense.
  4. You can’t hide from your problems. You may think you can, but you just can’t. In the moment, it might seem plausible to run away from that confrontation you’ve been avoiding, but in the end, you’ll find yourself face to face with the issue in some way or another. I had a few friends in high school who got into a fight over a petty issue. The fight turned into a situation that ruined a really good friendship and encouraged others to take sides. It was unnecessary, really, but could have been resolved. Nobody in the participating party wanted to admit that there was a problem over something so simple. It made for awkward birthday parties and uncomfortable seating arrangements in class until eventually someone said, “ENOUGH!” This is what happened with Jonah. He disobeyed God’s commands and thought he could hide. Chaos and destruction ensued, and it wasn’t until Jonah was swallowed by the whale that he decided to say, “ENOUGH!” and face his problem with God.
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8 Things Perfectionists with Anxiety Do in Relationships

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I want to preface this piece by saying that the list I have compiled here is based solely off my own experiences. I am the classic type A, Enneagram 1, and while all of these have been true at some point or another in my life, they may not be true for everyone. I also want to say that while I am still learning to love myself, I have made great strides in the process. So while it is normal to have these worries, it is not okay to ignore them. I do think it is important to pinpoint these worries in order to become more self-aware and start the journey toward self-love.

  1. They worry that they are a burden. People with anxiety never want to feel like an obligation to their significant other. They tend to worry that simple things like FaceTime or weekly dates will start to become a chore or even just maintenance work. With that being said, a person with anxiety is more than willing to step back if they feel like they are taking away from their SO’s success or productivity.
  2. They worry about feeling intrusive. This goes along with feeling like a burden, but it goes deeper. When people get into relationships, two worlds merge together. Different friendships. Different home lives. Different parenting. That can be scary for people with anxiety. They don’t ever want to feel like they are throwing off the balance of their SO’s pre-existing world. There’s nothing more stressful than being the outsider at a family function and worrying that everyone there is going to be talking about, “So _____’s new girl(boy)friend…”
  3.  They worry that they’ll say the wrong thing, or they won’t say the right thing at all. This second part can seem kind of confusing at first, but once you understand it, it makes total sense. For most people with anxiety, they keep what they are thinking about to themselves. It’s really hard for them to open up to people or say what they are really feeling. Because of this, they develop a habit where they think about what to say before they actually say it. This doesn’t sound too bad at first – it’s really important to think before you speak. Sometimes though, it gets to the point where they can’t tell their SO that they look cute without overthinking it – “Will s/he think that’s weird? They just said it to me I can’t say it back right away.” And then of course, they worry about saying the wrong thing or being interpreted in the wrong way. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re being loving but your SO doesn’t think the same.
  4. They worry that what they are doing isn’t enough. This is why sometimes people with anxiety will try to do too much. They will send you texts to make sure that you understand how much they love you. They will make you pinky promise. They will tell you over and over again how nice you look or how good you smell. They will want to pay for every meal. They will think of you when they see something in the store and want to give it to you as a gift. They might start to become excessive because they will do literally anything to keep the love of their SO. However, if you gently tell them you understand the extent of their love, they will back off.
  5. They sometimes send double, triple, or quadruple texts. On the surface, this may not seem that out-of-the-ordinary. People send multiple texts all the time and don’t think anything about it. People with anxiety do this far more often. They send one text, realize it didn’t have enough emojis, and then send another separate text with more emojis to make their first text sound more positive, less blunt, or less serious. That text is often followed by another text with an explanation or an apology such as, “Oops I meant to send that earlier but forgot.” or “Sorry I just sent you 182646 texts!”
  6. They apologize. About. Everything. Yep. It’s true. When you’re a perfectionist who is in love, you will do anything for your SO, which includes apologizing for things that warrant no apology. This can range from insignificant antics to relationship-threatening arguments. People with anxiety will apologize for being two minutes late to their SO’s house. They will apologize for sending too many texts. They will apologize for wanting to turn the volume down a smidge. They will also apologize for voicing their opinions, and they will feel guilty for being upset with you when you gave them the silent treatment instead of communicating. This can be one of the most unhealthy aspects of perfectionism and can lead people with anxiety to constant feelings of unhappiness.
  7. They worry about silences. A lot of people have problems with uncomfortable silences and like to fill the void with chatter. For people with anxiety, silence isn’t always the worst thing ever. It gives them a break from having to think and allows them to just enjoy time with their SO. Sometimes, though, these people worry that silence means that their SO is mad at them or is secretly plotting ways to break up with them. They also tend to worry that they have run out of things to talk about. All of these scenarios are a bit preposterous but run through the mind of a perfectionist with anxiety.

And of course…

Number 8: They overthink. This one wraps up all of the other points into one. Perfectionists with anxiety want everything to be perfect. They fear the day they get into their first fight with their SO. They want so badly to control the outcome of their relationship. And because of this, they overthink every other thing they say or do. They overthink that last text they sent, worrying that it came off too strong and their SO will think they are weird for sending it. They also overthink the lack of that last text, thinking that maybe they should have sent it instead. They overthink those silences, those triple texts, and those phone calls that are a bit shorter than average because for perfectionists with anxiety, one misstep is the end-all-be-all. They want their relationship to work out so badly that they overthink so many simple, everyday decisions.

Perfectionists with anxiety are some of the most forgiving people, but they can never seem to forgive themselves. When they fall in love, they fall HARD. They remember their past relationships and how they were burned…but what they don’t seem to remember is that burning, while in fact painful, lights up things that cannot be seen. Being burned by a past relationship may seem unbearable in the moment, but it allows us to find love in ways that we originally couldn’t.

The Most Painful Part of Your Workout (and no, it’s not the squats)

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Everybody talks about the very first rep in a workout and the very last rep. On the first rep, you’re still excited about the workout. You haven’t started to feel the pain set in. This first rep is a symbol of a fresh start. What happened in your last workout means nothing, and you get the chance to go harder and faster than you did the last time. That’s the awesome thing about the first rep: you have the opportunity to make the most out of your workout no matter how poorly your last training session went. Your legs are never going to feel as fresh in a workout as they did on the first rep. On the flip side, you have the last rep, which signifies victory. You know that you have nothing to lose. You run that last 200 meter repeat as hard as you can, you crank out as many sit-ups as possible in those last thirty seconds, you force yourself to do another set of ten push-ups because once you’re done, it’s all over. You get to go home and snuggle with your dog, take a hot shower, and eat a good dinner. Many will argue that the first rep is actually harder than the last rep. On the first rep, there are so many unknowns. You might not hit your goal time because you’re trying to conserve energy, or you might overwhelmingly exceed your goal time, leaving you no energy with an entire workout still ahead of you. On the last rep, you may not know if you’ll be able to hit your goal, but there is one sure thing, which is that the workout is over once you finish that last rep, so you might as well give everything that you have left. Everyone seems to talk about those first and last reps, but no one ever seems to talk about how that next-to-last rep makes you contemplate quitting.

You don’t really think about the next-to-last rep as being difficult when in reality it is the one that hurts the most. It is the point in your workout when you’re tired, you’re sore, and your legs just don’t feel like they can move any farther. You think about quitting because, honestly, you feel closer to death than you ever have before. And to make it all worse, you have TWO reps left. You say to yourself, “It would be so easy to just stop right now. I’d only be skipping out on rep. It wouldn’t make that big of a difference.” But really, that decision makes all the difference in the world. While you are finishing early, your competitors are dragging their feet to the line. They are just as tired as you, but they want it more. Before starting their next-to-last rep, they didn’t let the thought of having to go through pain twice more scare them. They saw it as the precursor to the last rep. “After this, we’ll only have to endure this pain one more time.” No matter how much your lungs are burning, quads are shaking, and forehead is sweating, you’ve already made it so far, so why make your next-to-last rep the last?

I like to think of life as a next-to-last rep. It’s hard. It hurts. But in the end, it is where character is built. You learn to tough out the pain and push through two more reps as opposed to just one, and you eventually become stronger because of it. It’ll hurt at first, but the best thing about pain is that it goes away. This is how we should approach life. In the moment, we may be beaten down, but we have to try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Like the next-to-last rep, it may be difficult. You’ll want to give up because going any farther will just seem like too much. If you push through that rough spot, however, you’ll find that once it is over, it is over. Of course there will be many other rough spots, and the same spot may come back to challenge you over and over, but the next time it stands in your way, you’ll be stronger and better equipped to handle the pain.

Why We As Runners Should Look at the Glass As Half-Full

You have probably heard of two types of people: glass half-full people and glass half-empty people. For most of my entire life, I have considered myself a glass half-empty kind of person. I would call myself realist. I would get caught up in always trying to make sure that my goals could be reached, and I only focused on striving toward things that I considered “possible.” But what is “possible?” Things that are “possible” are deemed by society. We generally base what is “possible” around what has been done in the past or what our talents allow us to do. But when you rule possibilities out, you are decreasing your range for success. You start to create illusions of what is “impossible.” But like possibilities, impossibilities are coined by society, the only difference is we use them as self-fulfilling prophecies. We tell ourselves that something is impossible so that we are not later disappointed if we don’t end up achieving our goals after all. But, the moment that you decide what goals are impossible is the day that you stop dreaming. So why can’t we believe that something is possible the way that we believe something is impossible? This is what it takes to live a content life and to reach our goals, but it requires us to start looking at the glass like it is half-full.

We can sit around all day long and talk about the things we could have done. But, this requires us to live in the past. I often think about one race I had during my track career and visualize what it would have been like had it turned out the way I wanted it to. My senior year of high school, I was one spot out from medaling at the state track meet, a goal that I had been striving towards for four years. I remember crossing the finish line and looking up at the scoreboard to see my name in third place in my heat. There was still another heat left, the heat with the fastest girls, so I knew that I probably would have had to at least come in second in my heat to medal. I remember seeing the compiled results from all three heats on that same scoreboard five minutes later and crying at the sight of my name in tenth place when the top nine medal. I was in pain, but it wasn’t just because I had just run 400 meters the fastest I ever had in my life. I was in pain because I thought I had failed. I thought that the only way that I was considered ‘good’ was by standing on the podium. And on paper and to other people, that is what makes you ‘good.’ What people don’t know is the back story behind each individual athlete. They don’t see the hours that you put in to get where you want to be. What they didn’t realize was the fact that not only had I set a personal record by three-tenths of second that night, but I had also broken the school record. I could have chosen to continue to wallow at the fact that I had just barely missed out on my ultimate goal, but I didn’t. I’ve been asked if I had known that I was going to come in tenth if I would have found that extra motivation inside of me to run faster. The truth is, I gave that race everything I had. I poured my heart out into that one race, and I just happened to come up short. I didn’t have the storybook ending that I had dreamed of, but I realized I had so many things to be happy about that night. It took me awhile, but I eventually saw that the glass was half-full of the things that I accomplished and not half-empty with the goals that I had fallen short of.

You can continue to look at the glass half-empty, but if you want to achieve your goals this mentality is going to harm you. You’ll want to tear yourself down. Every tough race you’ll be tempted to say to yourself, “I don’t have a chance.” You’ll start to look forward to the races you know you can win. You’ll start to make excuses. You’ll say, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to hit these times today.” You’ll set yourself up for the worst so that when the worst doesn’t happen, you’re content with the results. Why is it that we can’t look at the glass half-full more often? The worst thing that can happen from dreaming big is failure. But of course with failure comes judgment from others, and that is the end-all-be-all for the majority of human-kind. For a large part of my high school running career, I said to myself, “There’s no way I’m ever going to get on the podium at state.” I didn’t say this to myself because I was scared of the work it would take to achieve that goal, I was scared of what others would think of me. On paper, my times didn’t look like I had the capacity for the improvement I needed to medal. I saw how fast some of my competitors were running and didn’t know if I would ever be on the level they were on. I didn’t want people to scoff at my ambition. But at that time, I never could have guessed how close I would have gotten to accomplishing my goals. Running is a mental sport. You are your own biggest competitor. If you tell yourself that you’re not feeling it that day, then it’s going to show. You have to work through tough situations and approach them the same way you do when you’re in your comfort zone. It is time to stop looking at the glass as half-empty. It is time to stop picking out the negatives and to start focusing on the positives. Go into every run with the mentality that the glass is half-full, and there is no limit to what you can accomplish.