I woke up early on Saturday. Five o’clock in the morning. Well, 5:15am, really. I know, sheer craziness. Not as crazy as running six miles after Texas has had time to heat up, though. I drove over to the lake, half awake and half eating an orange. I got going and once I reached the side streets that lead to the running path, I realized something: I couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of me.
This wasn’t the first time I’d taken part of this early-morning-run insanity. It was the first time doing it alone, though. The sun hadn’t come up yet (Thank God), which was why I was out of bed at this ungodly hour of the morning, so there was barely any light. I kept going, one foot in front of the other, but I noticed something. My feet fell a little less surely than they did when I’d run this path before.
You see, last year I did all of these early morning runs with Dallas Running Club. We were all training for the Dallas Half Marathon, so we trained together a couple times a week. So, last year I could rely on my group to help me see. Some of them had flashlights clipped to their hats, and sometimes I just knew not to step where the person in front of me stepped if they tripped. Sometimes they would point to the ground and yell “HOLE!” and we’d all know to look down and avoid stepping in the hole and injuring ourselves and/or our pride. What made this time different is that I didn’t have anyone running with me.
I know. Running when there’s basically no light without a group AND without a flashlight.
But how many times do we do that in real life? How many times do we make decisions about the job we want, the spouse we choose, or weekend plans without running it past our community? How often do we let our individualized culture creep into our hearts and try to go it alone? And do we look toward Christian liberties when one of our friends warns us about something we’ve planned to do, because we really just don’t want to be humble and listen?
Truth is, I got lucky today. I ran three miles out and three miles back, so I was able to see on the second half. I was able to notice the potential pitfalls and run around them. I was able to pick up speed a little more toward the end once I didn’t have to worry so much about myself.
Many of us are content to keep playing our luck for the sake of keeping others from getting to know us, to keep them from speaking into our lives. But then we get mad at the world, and we get mad at God, when we step in the wrong place and something bad happens. The age old game of blame-shifting begins, and now we really don’t want anyone around while we’re so vulnerable.
God’s graced us with the gift of community for our good and for His glory. When we walk openly with others, we’re able to focus on moving forward as much as we focus on the path ahead of us. We’re reminded that we aren’t alone in this race we call life. We’re loved when we fall, and able to extend grace to others when they fall.
Some of you may be thinking that the analogy breaks down here, because I can just go buy a flashlight and keep running on my own. In a sense, that’s true. But let me share something with you: even though I’m running by myself, I still have people holding me accountable to run and train well. I still have people encouraging me (and sometimes pressing me) to get out there and run when it’s hot, or wake up at ungodly hours of the morning on one of my two God-given days off to get my long runs in and still be able to be faithful to church, community, and writing. So, find people (real life people, not Twitter!) to walk with you in life. You need them, and you just might find that they need you, too.
Now, about that flashlight…