A friend and I were talking earlier this week about The Amazing Race. I watch an awful lot of reality television but have realized that there are really no shows I’d actually like to be on (even though I have discovered a love for creating video lately). On the Amazing Race it’s not the strange food, or the travel, although I admit that “hangry and tired” is my least charming personality trait. It’s the running.
Y’all. They have to run everywhere. They run to airports where they all end up on the same flight anyway. They run on beaches and in cities and through farms and up giant mountains only to be thrown off the top of them on a bungee cord. If, for some reason, you and I ever have to have a foot race to get to some sort of prize first, let me just go ahead and say “you’re welcome.” You win.
But there is one kind of running I’m good at. I run away.
The thing about calling yourself an “accidental community builder” is that it’s really quite true. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. And more often than that, I don’t do it well. There are some days when the “hard work of getting along” is absolutely the last thing I want to do.
I thought community and friendship would be easier as an adult. I thought that grown-ups would know the power of the words they speak to one another and that they would use them with wisdom and kindness. And I was so sure that by carefully surrounding myself with like-minded people I was protecting myself from being disappointed and hurt and rejected.
I was wrong. Because I forgot to factor in the part where we’re all human. We mess up and we’re thoughtless with our words. We take things personally and we have to decide if we’re going to do the hard work to get along or if we’re going to run away. I’m not proud to admit that I chose to run away recently. My heart was broken and I grieved the loss of a safe and trusted space. I didn’t have it in me, in the midst of burn-out and end-of-year stress, to stay and fight for my place. I still don’t.
Maybe this is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” moments. But it’s where I am right now, and I’ve struggled against sharing it. But some part of me wonders if a few of you aren’t going through something similar. As this year starts, maybe you’re grieving the loss of community or friendship, or you’re feeling more strongly than ever that craving to connect with others in a meaningful way. I don’t have any solutions for you. I wish I could end this by announcing some wonderful new community that you can join where you’d find women who would always treat your heart with kindness.
I don’t have anything like that. And maybe if I did you would want to join me anyway after this story. I’m still running. But I can tell you this. God always has a plan for everything we go through. In the middle of the mess it might not feel like it, but I know He does. Right now I’m leaning hard on the experiences I’ve had where I’ve seen Him come through. There is hope, even for the runners.
At the very least, maybe you can find comfort knowing you aren’t running alone. Even if we are all going to our own corners to heal our wounds, and, when we’re ready, maybe we’ll tip-toe back into community a little more scarred, but a little stronger, than when we left.