I decided to go running with a group the other day. I began running about seven months ago, and although I did a 5k in April, as far as my non race days, I’d been running solo. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed being with others. It’s easy for me (I believe) to get along with others, however, I have a history that documents the more difficult the task for me, the greater need for me to tackle it in isolation. My running experience is limited, so it was something that I elected to do independently. The morning taught me a few things for which I am grateful.
Showing up is half the battle. It was Independence Day, a great excuse to sleep in; which for me is about 8am. Instead, I pressed my way out of the bed with intentionality. Despite the obstacles, sometimes it is good to as Robert Frost reminded to choose the road less traveled. It was only a small portion of my day, and when the race was over, I had the opportunity to return to my bed, with a feeling of accomplishment.
Our daughter is home from college and the night before the run, I shared with her my intention. She elected to go with me. She chose to walk instead of run. When we met up afterwards, I told her that I did intervals. She responded, “Had I known that, I would have run with you.” We become so accustomed to keeping things to ourselves, that we fail to realize what is available to us. Sharing that I was doing the run, got her to go with me, resulting in something beautiful. We don’t always have to a be a solo act. However, if that’s your preference, there are some who don’t mind shining the spotlight on us if we position ourselves to shine with assistance.
Sometimes we must challenge ourselves. There were several sisters in Christ whom I knew in attendance. One in particular has been encouraging me to attempt interval training for a few months. The group elected to do 2/1s, whereby one runs for two minutes and walks for one minute. I have to admit, I was a bit uneasy to try something new, and especially to do so with women much more seasoned than me. Yet, I survived, and more importantly, they were encouraging. In life, as we attempt challenges, God meticulously places people to serve as encouragers, cheerleaders, ride or die and the like. As opposed to leaving me because I was slower, they remained. As we overcome difficulty along our individual journeys, we mustn’t be so quick to assume that we are in it by ourselves. Although God is a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1), it is important for us to receive the assistance extended by those God has sent tangibly in the earth. This is particularly true as we navigate unfamiliar territory.
Normally when I run, I have my strategically created playlist cued and ready to provide the background motivation for what I need to get “it” done. This run would be no exception. However, instead of being in “my own head space,” I elected to run without my earbuds. It was amazing to consider how much I would have missed if I’d followed my normal routine. One of my sister friends called out things such as, “crack in the sidewalk,” “car” “puddle” and two words I lived on, “run” and “walk.” Sure, I could have visually followed cues from others, but it was more advantageous to hear for myself. I wonder what other warnings and instruction may benefit our journey when we come outside of ourselves and listen to those who’ve mastered what we are starting. There are times when it is vital that we close out the outside world, but occasionally, not doing so may be in our best interest. Are you in need of a new playlist for your life? Especially one that you’ve not crafted yourself?
As we neared the end of the run, it became hard. In the last stretch of the run, I noticed a short cut available. I’m certain others saw it as well, but chose to continue on the path we were on. Although tempting, choosing it would have dismantled the effort. How many times do we get to the end of a disturbing and challenging battle and take what we perceive as the short cut? If God has brought us thus far, why do we decide in the end to know what is best for us? In a world that celebrates microwave behavior and catapults it into fame and “reality” driven “success” it takes more to stay the course. Ecclesiastes 9:11, Hebrews 3:14 and 2 Timothy 4:7 commands us to stay in the race!
I don’t know your battle as we begin the second half of 2014. I don’t know what it has taken out of you already, nor what it will cost you to finish. I can however share that it may require you to exchange some of your typical paradigm in exchange for a different narrative. Doing so may be just the extra umph you need to reach and even exceed your goal. It might just turn out for your good.
Check out Milton Brunson’s “For the Good of Them.” Feel free to add it to your playlist.