I am not much of a runner, but I frequently find myself pulled to the beautiful analogies the sport offers. Recently, I have been thinking about the marathon aspect of life--and more specifically the way the length of this race lends itself to running partners/groups changing with the pace and the terrain.
Humans seem drawn to tribes/clubs/community. Throughout history, survival has often depended on the safety found in group settings--leaning on one another. I believe it is a part of the way God made us--to be His body, the sum of many parts. And yet, I can't help but ponder how my groups change over time--especially in this phase of life.
A 20 year history of my 'people' includes various inner circles: my family, my high school clique, college besties, my post-college/young professional group and then the new 'couple friends' marriage brought and parenting cohorts soon after. Every few years it seems to change--not because of big conflicts, but as a result of the shifting demands/circumstances of life.
There are so many people I respect, love, appreciate and enjoy--and yet there are only so many 'close friends' one can really keep. And I resent that sometimes. I wish there was time and space for regularly connecting with all the cool, inspiring, smart people from my past and present. I feel like I can learn so much from them and their experience, pace and technique on this journey. It is just not realistic.
As our children age, even some of the friends I've had the longest become more difficult to connect with--will our husbands jive, are our kids similar ages, will distance/schedules allow for meaningful visits? Our visits are intentional and rich--but few and far between.
I have wonderful people in my life. Yet, I run into ladies out to lunch that I just know I'd like (but whose kids are all at another school), or pass women at church I respect who attend a different service/Sunday School class/small group. In my own school carline many mornings I look across at a parent I think I'd really enjoy knowing better. But life seems to have us in different places.
We are 'running the race set before us' and many days it leaves little room for all the meaningful connecting this extrovert would like to do. The reality of life is that everybody can't be our running partners. We are in various spots on the course. And that's normal and ok.
Yet, I want these women to know I am cheering for them--that I have mad respect for all the ways they are contributing at home, in the community and by using their gifts in the world. It meant the world to me a few months ago when a friend texted me a simple "I see you." I've tried to incorporate a lot more 'seeing' and 'cheering' into my daily life.
So, for what its worth, I'm declaring a new catch phrase to communicate the respect I have for so many of these women--"I see you."
It sounds so silly, but my heart wants it to be a way of life--encouraging others in the trenches.
I see you leading that women's ministry.
I see you and your years of devotion to Moms in Touch.
I see you hunkering down at home because your husband/kids need that in this season.
I see you going back to work, filled with both anxiety and excitement.
I see your devotion to foster families in this town.
I see you homeschooling.
I see your faithfulness.
I see you bearing the weight of being a special needs parent.
I see you worried over the health of your child.
I see you just trying to make ends meet.
I see your weariness.
I see your kindness to the least of these--even though you are not doing it to be seen.
And I am learning that life is so much richer when we just pause to see each other.
May we be the great cloud of witnesses that cheers for all the other runners in this race--whether they are before us or behind us--blowing us away with their speed and prowess or obviously struggling to catch their breath. In the few races I've actually run, it's the best part--the overwhelmingly supportive atmosphere that seems to convey: "Hey, way to go you just for being out here giving it your all."
I want to be a part of a community that operates with the same mentality.
Oh, Lord, I pray...teach us to SEE and to SAY "Keep running. Your goal is worth it. I see you."