Perhaps you’ve never ventured into the world of running and races. Maybe you don’t even want to! But even if your toes never see the inside of an athletic shoe, I want to suggest that you make sure you have some amazing running buddies in your life! As the cooler weather descends and the trees unveil their decadent autumn foliage, it seems only right to start turning our hearts toward gratitude. And I, for one, am grateful to the point of being humbled for the group I call my running buddies.
Let’s be clear from the start. I don’t actually run with these women (although I probably should). I call them my running buddies, because they are the comrades that I am doing life with – running the race set before us (Hebrews 12: 1-2). More than ever, I am convinced that we weren’t meant to be muddling through life alone! (Ecclesiastes 4: 12)
The last couple years have been challenging……well, let’s just call a spade a spade, it’s been tumultuous. But in the midst of devastation, I still find gratitude rising up from the ashes because of these faithful, amazing, loyal companions who have seen my need and my brokenness and rivers of my tears. Instead of shying away from my pain, these lovely ladies stepped up and stepped in. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that I would be huddled in a heap on the floor flailing about if it wasn’t for the presence of some key running buddies in my life. They have been the friends that stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18: 24), the Jonathan to my David (I Samuel 18), and the Aaron to my Moses (Exodus 17). Their support has been awe-inspiring and my desire for you is that you find this kind of running buddy in your own life and that you will become one to another also.
There are so many qualities that I could speak about to describe these incredible women, but I’ve narrowed it down to three that I think are particularly important in finding a great running buddy and in becoming one.
Unless you are a judge or an attorney, a court of law is the last place most of us want to find ourselves. For a peacemaker like me, it is equivalent to a torture chamber. But that’s exactly where I found myself this past year fighting out a custody battle. I didn’t have a choice but to be there, but three of my incredible running buddies wouldn’t have been kept away by a stampeding herd of elephants! I did not ask a single one of them to come, but they knew me and knew how terrified I was, so there they were. One of my running buddies drove 3. 5 hours just to go and watch my favorite basketball team with me, even though it meant we were rooting against each other! Another came and helped me with a garage sale and completely took charge with my daughter’s concession stand. I had just lost my job the day before and mentally couldn’t juggle it all, so she stepped in. Yet another friend invited me to do a Bible study with her. As long as I wasn’t working, let’s spend more time together, she said. Available. There are many, many more examples I could share, but the point is, through the highs and lows of life, my running buddies have been there.
When I stopped by the house of one of my running buddies after a day when I had reached the brink of frustration with my job, I was on the verge of tears. I just couldn’t take it anymore and she saw it written all over my face the moment she opened the door. She held me tight while I cried and didn’t say a word until finally, she just started to pray. My running buddies don’t just pat me on the back and tell me that they’ll pray for me. They actually do it. When I pour out my heart about the areas where I am struggling, they stop and bring it to the Lord with me right then. They know they don’t have all the answers, but by praying, they remind us both that we know the One who does.
The great thing about God is that during the lows in our life, He has this incredible way of shining through with His love, faithfulness, joy and provision. I’m reticent to invite a multitude of trials into my life, but I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to see Him work in some pretty spectacular ways. When that happens, my running buddies are the first people I want to tell about it. They are the ones who won’t just give me a pat, “Hey that’s great.” My running buddies are cheering right along with me! Because they have walked and prayed with me through those low points, they understand the sweetness and victory in the highs! And God gets even more glory when we share His goodness and celebrate together!
This is a topic I could write on and on about for quite a while. The kindness and sweet character of my friends, my running buddies, is something I thank God for often, and I do feel humbled by the gifts of their friendships. Those women that I am “doing life with,” God is using to change me. He reveals His character through them, and I am challenged to become a better version of myself because of it. That’s what having running buddies is all about, even if you never do lace up those running shoes!