The Finish Line
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. – Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)
A skeptical friend recently asked me, “Do you really like running?” I replied, “No, but I love the teammates I run with.”
I’m a part of a triathlon team with athletes whose ages span over fifty years. Some of us race to win and many more of us (including me) are thrilled to finish a race at all.
At weekly practices it may seem like we focus on training, but when you listen closely you hear connections that go deeper than swapping swim stats or biking tips. We also swap stories from our lives that range from caretaking concerns to career questions, from newlywed bliss to navigating widowhood. We talk about how to heal from injuries due to strained muscles, but we also talk about healing from broken homes and strained relationships—conditions for which there are no easy fixes, only the ability to hold space for each other.
One of our slogans is, “Run your own race,” meaning you shouldn’t compare yourself to someone else or assume that what works for another athlete will work for you. My teammates can’t help me be a faster runner, but they keep me going when I would rather quit in the middle of a hot, humid, hilly, hell of a race.
Knowing something about their struggles gives me inner strength when self-doubt threatens to knock me over. Hearing their cheers as I cross the finish line reminds me that I’m not alone, even when I’m literally in last place.
Dear God, I don’t love being in the back of the pack, but I’m grateful for the teammates who wait for me at the finish line every single time. Amen.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.