This past Saturday morning, I found myself in a situation that that I was not prepared for. On Friday night, it had seemed like a really great idea. Let’s run the Dimock Health Center, Road to Wellness, 5K in the morning! Our good friend was doing it and I love and respect the work that the Dimock Health Center is doing, so why not?
The answer to “Why not?” came resounding about half a mile or so into the race. Why not?
Because I had not run for years, not to mention that I did not even have shoes that fit properly.
I was literally five minutes into the race when I realized how colossally unprepared I was for this challenge I had voluntarily brought upon myself.
Not all challenges are entered into voluntarily. In fact most are not. Most of the times they catch us up by surprise. A diagnoses comes, a loved one passes, a job is lost – or gained. Something comes out of left field.
We cannot know what will be the nature of the challenges that we will face, but we can be assured that we will face them. And so we do, what I had failed to do. We get ourselves ready as best we can.
This is where church comes in, I believe. Here we practice showing up with our truest most authentic selves trusting that we will be welcomed into a house of belonging. Here we pray together, sharing our hearts yearnings with those around us finding comfort and strength in the sharing. Here is where we show up for each other in our times of need, walking the dog of the one who cannot. Bringing a meal, sharing a laugh or a learning or a longing together. We do all of this so that when those challenges come either personally or collectively we have practiced what we need to be strong and overcome them together. To find the strength, the breath and the determination to persevere.
But there is something more.
At that half mile mark on Saturday, when I was winded, and wondering what in the world I was doing, when my mind was telling me how foolish I was for jumping into something for which I was so unprepared, when I began slowing my pace, seriously considering slipping down a side street and out of the race all together — two women with matching head bands that said “Black Girls Run” (with one sporting an envious bright pink tutu) drew up on either side of me. Clearly seeing my distress they began to say to me “Come on, Momma. You can do it!” “You’ve got this! You can do it. Keep going. Come on, Momma! Come on!”
A little while later, I crossed the finish line with those two angels at my side. All three of us were all grinning ear to ear. And when a friend of the two took our picture as we three wrapped our arms around each other, she shouted out in joy to whoever would listen. “This is what it is all about people! This is what it is all about!”
So the good news is, even when we are not ready, even when we do not think we have what it takes or think that we are not prepared to meet the challenges that we may suddenly find ourselves in the midst of, –Grace shows up, Spirit draws up alongside and with God’s help we will cross whatever finish line we face. This is what it is all about people! This is what it is all about!