Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ready, Set, GO!

I love cheering at marathons. There’s the bustling clumps of people all around you. People are excited and hopeful. Everyone seems like they have brought out their best moods. And for these few hours, the race is all you have to think about.

[Let me clarify and say I do not feel the same way about actually running a marathon so if you were planning on asking me to “train” with you or do a “sign-up” of any kind then you should just move along. Nope. Not going to happen.]

Besides, what’s a marathon without the support of the people watching on the side?

photoIt’s a strange love of mine – cheering on strangers and friends – that has been running deep in my veins for quite awhile. I’ve markered up some pretty catchy posters, done some exciting self-food marathons along the way and once, I even jumped into the race to catch a falling girl who had passed out (but that’s another story).

The Nashville marathon is this weekend and it got me thinking about how sometimes it’s easy to overlook the people on the sidelines. You almost expect them to be there and they can go unnoticed unless the streets are empty or abnormally overflowing. But these are the people who are self-sacrificially investing their morning to (somewhat) boringly wait on a three second glimpse of a friend rushing by. It’s a fleeting moment of ‘hellos’, but so many runners have told me what a huge impact it makes to have people cheering for them every step of the way.

It’s something we as humans crave; the need for people on our sidelines as we run our life-marathon. Sometimes these simple, small gestures can make all the difference when you’re running uphill.

I recently heard a story from when my friend Kelli ran the Nashville marathon a few years ago. She had trained for months with her friend, carbed-up the night before and mentally prepared herself to take on her first marathon. Her friends knew that even though Kelli was determined and able, she would still need encouragement. So, they mapped out the route and split the group up. At every couple of mile markers, without fail, there would be a body, a friend, cheering for Kelli.

Life can feel like a marathon.

We’re putting on our tennis shoes and doing some mild stretches before taking off toward the finish line. Some days it’s easy. The mile is smooth and the wind is blowing kindly. Some days are not so sweet. The hill is steep and endless or you’re on a road full of potholes. And on those rough parts, it can mean so much to look to the side and see a cloud of witnesses cheering you on, posters in hand, pushing you forward. Sometimes these moments can be pivotal to your next step.

Some days I don’t bother looking at my the sidelines. The run is easy – I don’t need anyone’s help, I tell myself, as I turn up the music in my ear buds. But let me tell you, in the moments when your heart is weary, an empty sideline can feel almost deafening.

Kelli was hitting her stride during the marathon. Each mile ticked off getting her closer and closer to the finish line. She survived the painful uphill climb on 12th South, she turned onto Wedgewood and soon, she was passing through downtown Nashville. But around the halfway point, looking forward to seeing a friendly face wasn’t going to be enough to keep her going. There was too much left to go, there were some unexpected hills along the way and Kelli was growing weary.

Her friends on the sideline continued to scream words of encouragement for her but they could see from her face that she was struggling to continue on.

Then something amazing happened.

Kelli’s friend – the one who had trained with her – jumped the barricade. And in that moment, he went from the cheering fan to her running partner. In this selfless act of love, he came up alongside Kelli and ran the rest of the race with her. Then, a couple miles before the finish line, with her confidence up, he jumped back into the crowd and met the rest of the group at the finish line.

When was the last time you jumped into a marathon? We’ve done our minimal parts drawing up posters, sending a text with a smiley face, grabbing a cup of coffee every few months, but when was the last time we practiced loving so brilliantly big and selflessly?

We can learn a lot from Kelli’s friend; I want to be a friend like that. One who understands the weight of being a true friend. One who not just faithfully stands on the sidelines, but is willing to jump in to a race that doesn’t belong to me wholeheartedly, without a second thought. I think that’s where our minds can get the best of us. We second guess these impactful acts of love. Is it too much? Maybe they don’t want us to? Do we have time? We convince ourselves that we have our own burdens to worry about, our own marathons to run. But when it comes to living out Greater Love, no sacrifice is too much for a friend.

This weekend, I’ve carefully drawn out some posters which I’ll bring to my usual spot on the race path. I don’t think I know anyone who will be running but I’m content just doing my part yelling happy thoughts out to strangers. But in the meantime, I may start carrying my tennis shoes around with me. Because when the time comes that I see a friend struggling on their life-marathon, I want to be ready to jump in without hesitation. Head in. Heart full. Feet first.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

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Pit People

I started writing this blog post in my head a few weeks ago but never got around to actually writing it out.

Then earlier this week I started typing what I wanted to say, but the more I typed the less I felt motivated to write. So I stopped. And now it’s Friday, and here I am again.

You see, the reason why I didn’t want to write this post is because I knew how I needed to end it – nice, eloquent and sweet, like a perfectly crisp bow. I’ll fast forward this for you. I was going to write about being hurt by the people in your life. And by the end of this post I was going to have some compelling lines about forgiveness and moving forward and loving people who have hurt us, because that’s what we’re supposed to do…right?

But honestly, I don’t want to write about that.

Why not? Because I don’t want to write about why we should or have to be the bigger person. I’ve tried living as one my entire life and honestly, I’m just so dang tired of being the bigger person and the nicer person and the person who gets hurt and still takes the high road. No. What I want to do is tell everyone to stop being so selfish, for once in their life, to take off their inconsiderate blinders and be better human beings…to me.

2012Hello, my name is Sarah and I live in a pit.

That’s right, you heard me, my home is a dark hole.

I started digging this pit when I was seven years old and the kids at school bullied me into doing some things I didn’t want to do. Then in middle school I was locked in the boys bathroom, which only made me dig deeper. There was a point in my early teenage years that I finally thought I had found my safe, confidant circle of friends, only to discover that I was a mere pawn in a cruel, humiliating Internet joke (June’s blog post). Somewhere after that my pit grew deeper and deeper until one day, I fell in.

Now that wasn’t my intention at all when I started digging this ditch. At first, I had a plan to throw all the haters, enemies and people who had hurt me in there. One day, I’ll show them, I’d promise myself as I shoveled through the tears and hurt. I was fueled by the idea that the lower they got in the hole, the better I would feel as I stared down at them from my high horse of justice.

To be honest, I’ve gotten quite used to this place I call home. Yes, it’s lonely and painful, and while the anger doesn’t ever fully dissolve, at least I know I won’t ever get ambushed.  I know what to except and if you can’t love, you can’t hurt.

Most of you don’t know this but 2012 was – in my opinion – the worst year of my life. The year ended more painfully than it began and as the days bled into 2013, the first few months didn’t seem very promising. I must have started getting cabin fever because a few months ago I decided, I had to get out of this pit.

Let me tell you this – getting out of a pit is way more difficult then falling into one. It seemed that the more steps I built, the more walls I climbed, another situation would pop up and pull me back down again. That’s when I came up with the solution. Quit everything.

If my life had been a color-coded organized calendar, it would have been burned into ashes and tossed out into the Atlantic Ocean. I quit extracurricular activities I didn’t want to do. I quit initiating with my friends to see who, if any, would still call me. And quite frankly, I simply quit caring.

And as I proudly dusted myself off for pulling myself out of this hole, what I didn’t realize was that in the process, I had myself a new pit. And the moment I took my first step, I fell right into a new pit.

My favorite television show is How I Met Your Mother. Don’t argue or try to say it’s gone down hill because I won’t listen; the heart wants what it wants. There was an episode this season about what it means to have a ‘pit person’ where the writer’s drew from an analogy from the film Silence of the Lambs. I’m not familiar with scary movies (Casper was scary enough for me, thank you) but from what I gathered in this episode, the person from the movie would throw another person into a deep, dark pit and watch them suffer until they ultimately perished.

Each character on the show had a pit person or a person that wanted to put them in a pit. At a pivotal moment in the How I Met Your Mother episode, Ted (the show’s narrator) said this: “You can spend a lot of time making a pit for someone in your mind, but the only person in the pit is yourself.”

When I watched that part I cried.

Here’s the thing about pits – they aren’t comfortable, it gets awfully lonely in there and the person you end up hurting the most is yourself. It’s like drinking poison and expecting another person to die. And the longer you stay in your pit, the more you become the shell of a person people once liked being around.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We’re not meant to live in pits and we’re definitely not meant to die in them either.

Think about the story of Joseph. His life pretty much started in a pit. And once he got pulled out of the literal pit, he got thrown back into hypothetical pit after pit. But whenever he got in to another pit, he didn’t stay there. When he had the choice to stay in or get out, he got out – every single time. It got me thinking about all the efforts we try to heal our wounds and climb out of pits with little success and how Joseph, in all his seemingly detrimental moments, practiced the best escape route of all. Maybe it can really be this simple:

Don’t soak in life’s hurts (Gen 37:18). Don’t punish your future self for something that happened to you in the past or present (Gen 39:19). Work diligently and humbly (Gen 39:21). Be kind (Gen 40:7). Be generous (Gen. 41:37). Surround yourself with people who will lift you up (Gen. 41:46). Forgive continually (Gen. 45:4).

Love God.

But none of these happy endings and better days would have been possible for Joseph or remotely possible for us if we aren’t willing to take the first step. And you know what that is, right?

Step One: get out of that pit.

 

Photo Credit: Mackay Cartoons “Digging a Deeper Hole”