"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My "Unhappy" Place

I'd like to think that everyone has a happy place. You know, that space - familiar, yet not overly routine - where we experience moments of complete contentment and soulful renewal. Where the busyness of the everyday melts away and we find ourselves wanting to bottle it all up; the sights, sounds, emotions, all of it. A place that consistently meets this expectation, and defines much of who we are.

One of life's real blessings, at least for me, is the good fortune of having identified those happy places early enough into the journey that they can continue to be revisited in the years ahead. It is incredibly satisfying to know, without a doubt, that these specific moments resonate with me like none other. 

As a reminder, outside of time with family, my happy places include: 
The Starting Line (Any Starting Line!)
Small Group Community
The Run for God Gang
The Local Body of Christ in Worship & Fellowship
These have long been my happy places and I suspect, expect, and pray, that they will remain as such, far into the future. 

So, if the existence of our happy places is a reality, then the opposite must be true as well. Even if you are as optimistic as yours truly, it would reason that there is a space that is consistently unsettling and undesirable; the unhappy place. And for the first time in my life, I now realize exactly where that is for me. 

Over the past nine months, my wife and I have discovered the new-norm that occurs when the "c" word becomes part of everyday vocabulary. In the flash of an August MRI, life changed courses and priorities were instantly rearranged. As we like to think of it, God revealed the next page of our lives, and we were completely surprised, though he was not.

Fast-forward to one week ago tonight. An ER room near midnight, and my best friend rolled away for scans, again. And the waiting begins, in a room that is far from quiet (think frequent monitor alerts and constant hallway chatter - some frantic, some just loud), but somehow it becomes one of the loneliest, most silent places on earth. Pacing, sitting, checking the clock ... pacing, sitting, checking the clock. The room is loud, but the mind is deafly quiet, waiting, wondering, projecting best and worst case scenarios for the results, which could, should come at any moment, or not, so waiting, pacing, sitting ...

I'm sure there is a correlation between the time one waits and the level of silence and  depth of the loneliness, but somewhere near the forty-five minute mark on this night, this great revelation occurred to me: "Right here, right now, I have identified my unhappy place!" Those were the exact words, spoken out loud to no one in particular. An empty waiting room with someone you love rolled off elsewhere, that is most definitely it. 

I'm not really certain why this seemed so profound at that moment, but I am certain that it made me realize how our lives are filled with much more happy than unhappy. In fact, I recall thinking that it took almost half-a-century to find this space, and for that, I am most grateful. I also came to consider that God allows us the same joy in either of these "places." Perhaps one with greater sadness than the other, but the fullness of His joy can never be taken from us, even in the ER. 

May the joy of the Lord be our strength in all of our unhappy places, and may the dark skies and rough ground remind us that the call to "run with horses" can often be an extremely challenging endeavor .... but one that is always better than stumbling around with men on foot in safe country. 
Blessed Be Your Name (even in our unhappy places)

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