Bill and I met our friend Al to run trails last week.
We got lost (of course), which added a mile or so to our intended route.
Al is famous for getting lost. He is also famous for telling his running partners “This is the last hill.” He has said it so often, no one any longer believes him.
He checked with me during the run to determine whether I believed him when he said it. I assured him that I did not. My optimism sometimes borders on gullibility, so if I don’t believe him, trust me, no one does.
We stopped several times to look at a trail map, but Al doesn’t wear his reading glasses to run, so he has difficulty even seeing the map. I am known for my lack of spacial intelligence and cannot translate lines on a map to the trails we are seeing in real life. Bill is the least familiar with the trail system we run on, so for him to look at the map in the middle of a run and determine, “We are here” is a stretch.
We are like the Three Stooges. Anyone listening to our conversation when we are trying to decide whether to turn left or right at an intersection would be in stitches.
It doesn’t really matter. The trails we run on are not really in the wilderness. We will eventually come to a place we recognize. Getting lost is not intimidating.
Long runs, now those are intimidating.
I have written here about my struggles with long runs this spring. It was getting better. I was crying less and enjoying the runs more, then my dog Benji died, and my hard-won gains evaporated. I wound up sobbing into Bill’s already wet (85 degrees F and 90% humidity) shoulder on our last long run.
It was a soggy mess, both physically and emotionally.
I felt bad for Bill. His normally upbeat, enthusiastic running partner has disappeared and a shaky, sad, and insecure one has taken her place.
Then I tried putting myself in his shoes.
I might feel unsure of what to do for a struggling loved one. I might feel helpless, or worried, or troubled.
If Bill was struggling, however, would I be irritated, impatient, angry? No, and neither is he, I realized. That’s not the way love works.
Love does not seek its own gratification.
Take note, lovers, if the man (or woman) you are considering as a life partner is not giving, generous, and empathetic, if he or she sees you as a burden, or worse, an imposition, that’s not love.
It may be passion, but it’s not love.
Love is not only an emotion, it is an action. A million little actions.
Loving means caring. It means being there at 2:00 in the morning when you need to talk. It means protecting you, helping you when you are down, and celebrating with you when good things come your way.
Love means wanting the best for those you love, even if the best thing for them is not always the best thing for you.
Love is ministering to the sick, promoting justice, helping the needy. It is praying, teaching, encouraging, and believing.
Yes, love is believing, even when the odds are against you, even when reason tells you to be skeptical, even when hope is dim and fading.
Love is never giving up, not ever.
Love is making life a little more bearable. It is trusting, forgiving, respecting, building up, and influencing those we love to be their best selves.
Love is alive and love is loud.
Love is gentle and love is humble. It is genuine and patient and relentless and fierce. It is welcoming and inclusive and nurturing and redeeming and holy.
Love makes us vulnerable and that is a good thing. It shatters even the hardest heart’s brittle shell. It is transformation and rescue, enlightenment and grace.
And love is keeping promises, even when they are not easy to keep. Especially when they are not easy to keep.
So I will keep doing long runs. 42 years ago next month, Bill and I made a promise to be there for each other in good times and in bad times.
Right now, that translates to fun trail runs and grueling long road runs.
Even if one of us does wind up with a soggy shoulder. Even if we do take some wrong turns now and then.
Because I trust in love.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
You can find the places I link up here.