I wish the race was prettier. But it’s not.
Running has become a picture of my everyday life. There are days when it’s easy to put on the shoes, days when I just don’t want the feeling of my feet dancing on the pavement or trails to end. There are days when those same shoes feel like lead. There are seasons where faithfulness is easy – and seasons where I am so weary or busy or just plain lazy that faithfulness is more a deliberate decision than a joyful happening. But still I run.
Mind you, I’m not a great runner. I’ve laughed that “I run to eat.” But since 2010, running has been there, thanks to great cheerleaders like my friends Amy, Crystal, Rick, Courtney, and my sweet family. It’s less about the act of running, and more about the experience of it. It’s about the rhythm, the soundtrack that plays when music is in one ear and the birds and breeze and barking dogs are in the other, the changing palette of colors as the seasons awaken and then slumber and then awaken again. And it’s about what God says. He speaks about endurance, focus, joy, disappointment. He reminds me about the beauty of community, the power in friendship, and the essential need we all have for encouragement. He teaches through good moments, and He teaches through pain.
And right now, He’s teaching through toenails.
On April 30th, I ran the Music City Half-Marathon with one of my oldest and most precious friends, Migdalia. We both did everything right to prepare – purchased shoes that worked best for our feet, trained well, rested well, dressed well, set realistic goals, and cheered each other on. We crossed the finish line together and wore our medals with pride (as we ate fried chicken and biscuits at Loveless Cafe). The day is now documented as an official “bucket list” moment for me. Now, a month later, I’m doing all I can to hang on to two toenails. They’ve been trimmed and painted to look like all the other toenails on my feet. They are bandaged and taped tightly when I run. I’ve even gone so far as to Superglue the edges down when I wear sandals so they won’t move. But at the end of the day, those old nails are coming off. Slowly. Very slowly.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t want them to leave. They’ve worked well for a really long time. There’s nothing really wrong with them at all. In fact, they were doing their job perfectly when they were damaged in the battle of that half-marathon. And they were damaged “just because” – not due to tight shoes or a bad fall. But “new” is happening underneath the bruises and nail polish. It’s a new I can’t see, a new I don’t fully understand, and a new that doesn’t seem to be happening with any speed. I can’t rush it. I can’t fix it. I can’t fake it. But I can rest assured it’s going to be better. And so He teaches. He reminds me that, for the most part, trials come not because of anything we’ve done or not done – they just happen. We run the race well and still get bruised. And if we remain faithful, the best awaits on the other side of the pain. Today, it’s through Job 23 (the paraphrase is mine).
He’s working on my left, but I can’t see what He’s doing. He’s working on my right, but I can’t figure it out. But He promises that when all is said and done, I’ll be refined. When His new comes, I’ll shine like gold. I’ll run where He wants, I’ll stay on the path.
What does God use to teach you in your everyday life?