Last Saturday I ran a half marathon.
It didn’t feel especially important since I’ve done several before and this one was literally just down the road. It was a beautiful, cool morning and the sun was out. Perfect day for this.
But this run was unlike any other half I have done. It went very wrong. My nerves were at a breaking point going into it because of some hard runs the week before and just plain old hard life stuff the last few months. Running has always been a way for me to clear my head and shake it off, but that morning, the anxiety felt stronger than ever.
I pushed through it and did the race. Physically, I felt horrible and I stopped many times to walk. It wasn’t the miles that I was scared of. I was more than ready for this run. The course was hilly, but that wasn’t bothering me. It was my churning stomach and my anxious head. By mile 9 I had given everything I had.
The darkness was stronger than the light. My world felt very small and it took all I had to keep moving forward. I really just wanted it to be over.
One step, followed by another.
And by some miracle, I made it to mile 11.
As I approached that 11th mile, clinging to some hope that I could overcome whatever it was the had a grip on me, I saw my family on the side of the road. My parents cheering and my sister too, faithfully waiting for me to come. I began to cry and wanted so badly to just fall into them, but as I approached I noticed my sister at the edge of the course, with her running shoes on and ready to go.
I finished that race. I will tell you why.
I literally had my sister running next to me, reminding me that there was light near by. That I would make it. She kept telling me to look for that light and to keep going. Drew (who had already finished the half and ran back to meet me!) joined at my other side, encouraging me to take that next step, pointing towards that finish line. It was their presence that gave me hope to keeping moving in those shadows.
I wish I knew exactly why the dark was so much stronger than the light that day, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I had people whispering grace in my ear, telling me where to put my foot next.
On this Holy Saturday and in the space of dark waiting, remember we are in a sacred place together.
Let the whispers of hope and grace descend from your ears into your heart.
Let them guide you in the dark.