The Thighs That Bind

The weather has not turned to autumn coolness, and I was standing in the yard with my cup of coffee, following the instructions I had been given to “Watch!” Normally, this is when I hold my breath while the quail bike and try to create the need for blood transfusions in one fantastical crash while attempting to go faster than a pile of bark, or some such, but today, I was witness to the joy of running.

Do you remember the days of running for no other reason than that you could?

Now, this is important to note here. If you are an adult reading this and you are adjusting your spandex while thinking, “what is she talking about? I just came in from running 5 miles, just because I can, and wow I feel energized!”, it is possible that we are not destined to be friends. Unless by “friends” you mean, I will sit by the road sipping a mojito, pointing and laughing while you run on the same road. Defining terms is so important. I’m not saying there is nothing you can glean from hanging out on this blog; I personally enjoy listening to a French singer named Brigette Boisjoili, even though I only can really understand when she hollers the word, “BRASIERRE!!” This blog might be a little like that for you.

Watching my Boy Quail run his heart out down the road reminded me of a few years back when I grew weary of sweaty thigh problems and decided to invest in a product I saw on the internet (see every previous post I have ever written about the reliability of things we see on the internet. You might say it has become a theme here), which I purchased despite being thoroughly off-put by the name. That’s right — I bought a bottle of Anti Monkey Butt.

There is literally nothing appealing to me about the marketing behind this product. The picture is gross, the name is distasteful, and the ads make me embarrassed to own sweat glands, but here’s the thing: if you are one of the handful (cough cough, note how charitable my assumptions here…) of people in the world who are not the proud owners of a thigh gap, then chafing of the inner thighs in the dead of summer is a thing. If you are an introvert and have been roped into playing ice breaker games at a baby shower, you may know what it is to chafe all over. Either way, to be told that there was a way out of doing that really awkward maneuver where you try to inch your knees forward and out and give a delicate little hip wiggle in the hopes of pushing air into unmentionable places, all while trying to make it appear that you are simply thinking about the state of the Czech Republic or the inflated price of lemons or how cute the baby in question is or how long you think the marriage will last (depending on where you are attempting this move, you understand — try not to get them mixed up. No young mother at a baby shower wants to hear you speculating about the staying power of her marriage. Or about the Czech Republic, come to think) — well, the concept appealed.

Anti Monkey Butt arrived at my doorstep as part of a set, for which I was later to understand the reason. It was summer, and I saw this is the key to being easy and breezy in my sundress after church, and that was the first occasion for trying the powder. Some of you reading this are starting to roll your eyes — this derp author went and bought repackaged talc powder, didn’t she?

Ahem. I don’t want to talk about it. It had unpronouncable additional ingredients that surely made all the difference.

As I was getting dressed on what I was certain would be a gloriously comfortable Sunday morning, walking about the world like Cindy Crawford on a beach somewhere (stop snorting, it’s rude), I contemplated all the places on my body that could probably use a dusting of magic, to prevent stickage or friction of any kind. It is just as well that I did not own a full-length mirror — I have no illusions that the procedure of applying the Anti Monkey Butt was terribly elegant. The instructions (which –strut of self-satisfied pride– I read. All by myself. Almost to the end) encouraged a sprinkling, and then a drying period with nothing touching the blessed areas.

One of my daughters reads this drivel, so let me think how to tell this in a manner thoroughly decent…

Powder went flying like so many snow flurries in December and I made (largely fruitless) efforts to direct the fluff where I felt it would be best received and most helpful —

“GAH!! What is wrong with you?? Just get between my legs!!”

I would rather not narrate my attempts to make application under my boobs. You have an imagination. By all means use it… just try not to hurt yourselves.

Once applied, I curved my limbs outward and bent my body like a question mark for about 15 minutes, that gravity might assist my endeavors in allowing the powder to dry thoroughly before I completed my dressing for the day. One thing that can be said — the amount of perspiration I produced just trying to get the stuff on gave it immediate opportunity to prove its worth to me. Still, despite the less than graceful beginnings, I felt quite hopeful about a day entirely free of thigh rub chafing.

Alas… the day was warm and during the course of church and visiting afterwards (an activity that never fails to cause me to sweat profusely. Curse of the introvert), my protective layer of Anti Monkey Butt had worn off, to my great chagrin. Once in the car, I turned to the second bottle of powder (aha, the reason for the multi-pack!) and attempted to covertly reapply to the miserably chafing, and now gunked up with white powder, inner thighs. This was taking place in the church parking lot (I know, I know — WHY…), and I obviously desired subtlety, so I posed myself as if I were hunting down below my seat for a tic-tac I had dropped, and then accidentally shoved further back with my heel, thus requiring me to have my legs splayed, head between my knees. This procedure, should you be contemplating it for yourself, must be done with greatest delicacy. You mustn’t allow your head to appear too drooped, your shoulders too relaxed, or passersby may assume you are feeling faint and offer you (even worse, insist upon offering you) assistance. No good comes of this. It is of the greatest import than you look ill at ease, tense in the shoulders, and ever moving your arms as if trying to reach to the very farthest corner underneath your car seat. This still will not protect you from your husband’s gobsmacked expression as he observes your activities, but if you have been married longer than 5 minutes, he is probably fairly used to you doing weird things by now and will get it over fairly quickly.

Is your breath bated yet? The cry goes up, “The Author cannot possibly pull any spiritual wisdom out of this absolutely random overshare and while I am at it, I CAN’T UNSEE IT!!”

Your doubt cuts me to the quick.

If you are in Christ, you are in fact running. You are in the race for glory, already won for you by your Lord, and you are not running alone. Let nothing hinder you! But you are all running at different stages — when you are new to your faith, there is fresh energy, excitement, and enthusiasm and that is by design! It is beautiful! You don’t even know enough to know how hard the race will be! Trials will come, your sin will be shown to be more hideous to you the longer you know the God who has done all to save you, the more you learn to hate your sin, the more of it you will see in yourself. As years pass, you mature. There is a weight of glory that comes with sufferings (finally — a chunky thigh we need not be ashamed of), and there are times when you may long for the days when running felt easier, when there was less to chafe you on your way.

EYES UP. Fresh runner, do not fear the maturity to come, or the means God may use to bring it to you. Enjoy the freedom you now feel for the first time, learn from those running up ahead of you and do not fail to run with them, to learn how to deal with the spiritual struggles that can chafe the soul during the season where it is mostly theoretical for you. Chase maturity. And to you runners who have been running for many years, who sometimes feel that the burning of your lungs and the irritated skin on your thighs will cause you to collapse — look up! Resist the temptation to discourage that fresh young sister in Christ, or to envy her the apparent ease. God has designed each of your races and His ways are both perfect, and far beyond us. Grab ahold of the sweaty hands next to you (you will not have such a hand free to grab on to sin, to bitterness, to complaint if your hands are full like this) and chase hard after Jesus. The race has been won — He will not let you fall by the wayside. Only His grace can bring ease, only His love can enlarge your heart for the race ahead and He has given you one another, co-laborers, running buddies, fellow warriors. Don’t look down, don’t be distracted by the world’s false promises of an easy fix to the weariness, to the chafing, to the spiritual thigh rub —

Look to Jesus and RUN.

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