I was on a run by myself the other night. Just me, the key to our old car, and my running shoes. The evening was cool and I could see the sun setting and filtering through the bare trees. My feet plodded one in front of the other…left…right…left…much like the patterns we’re learning in homeschool. I look up when I hear heavy and strained breathing and see two older women trying to walk down a hill. They are wearing fleece against the chilly wind and struggling to move with their two, tiny dogs.
Another girl passes me. She’s young. Fit. Her brunette pony tail swishes in the wind. She runs effortlessly and looks strong.
I pass a girl on my right. She is struggling too, but I’ve seen her from the minute I parked my car and notice she is determined. Resolved. Steady. I want to tell her “good job!” as I pass, but my mouth feels stuck and I feel silly saying those words to a complete stranger. I want so badly to tell her that I notice how hard she’s working, that she shouldn’t give up, but convince myself she’s heard it before. She doesn’t need me. Or does she?
One by one they pass. Men and women of all different ages, levels of physical fitness, and body types. Some are alone, some are with friends. Some look happy and energized, others look tired and sad. I begin to think about their individual stories and the life they have outside of this running trail. What kind of day did they have before they came here? I wonder if they have people in their life telling them they’re smart, and beautiful, and gifted. I wonder if they know they’re loved, or do they feel alone?
There was a time in my life where I didn’t feel loved. I didn’t feel energized. And I certainly didn’t feel strong. It seemed that everything in my world was falling apart and crumbling into pieces…my marriage, our finances, parenting our babies, hopes of having another baby, relationships with friends…I would hold one wall up with my hand, only to watch another fall behind me. I sought the Lord desperately during these times, often on my runs. I would ask Him what He was doing, why He was doing it, and was there going to be an end in sight.
I think one of the hardest things about growing up is allowing the Lord to expose the hurt in your own soul and giving Him permission to heal it back together again. How much He wants to comfort us, tell us we are loved, and yet we run away gritting our teeth with an I-will-try-harder mentality.
In my desperate search for answers, there were people. People in my life who spoke truth to me. Prayed over me. Encouraged me. And because of that, I felt the hand of God when I didn’t think I could feel anymore. There was one night in particular, and I’ll never forget it. I called our pastor crying and brokenhearted…”defeated” is the best word I know to describe it. He spoke words to me. Words of comfort and peace. Words of conviction and truth. And he told me, “Don’t give up.” Get up and face another day. And then another one. And then another. Till you’ve faced 10,000.
Words. I think they can be a balm to many a wound. They can soothe and mend what was once distorted and broken. But they can also destroy and hurt. Complain and gossip.
I believe we pass people all day, every day, much like the runners I ran into the other night. Some are visibly struggling, some appear to have it all together, and some are plugging away putting one foot in front of the other. Their lives beyond Instagram, Blogging, Facebook, (you fill in the blank) are filled with everyday failures and let-downs. Brokenness and defeat. Searching and despair. We cover it well…with makeup and clothes. Cute photos of our kids and our pets. The dinner we served last night…but there is so much more to their stories. Such a great need for people to get over themselves and the excuse that “someone else must’ve told them” and be that person. The person that says, “You are loved. And beautiful. And gifted.” The person that says, “I see your hard work and you’re doing a great job! Keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
Our world would be better, don’t you think?