A few months ago, Tina (@teenbug) announced a big, hairy, audacious goal over at SheLoves Magazine. She, a self-proclaimed non-runner and lover of butter, was going to run a race to benefit Living Hope, an organization that pays for reconstructive surgeries for women whose faces had been mutilated or cut off in civil war torn Africa. Eventually, it grew to a full half-marathon with nearly 40 local women (and Josh) of all backgrounds running for their sisters.
When Tina announced the half-marathon for Living Hope, some small, still part of my heart said, “You need to do that. You need to learn to run, you need to do this, there is something that God has here for you, too, in this.”
But I did not do it.
The race was a month or so ago. I cheered them on from my house on race day via Twitter, I publicly encouraged people to donate to their run, I donated money, I celebrated their bravery, their guts and this amazing story of connection between regular women doing something brave and strong with their sisters in Africa also doing something brave and strong. They raised over $43,000(!!!) and I wept with joy for their accomplishments, particularly young Tina who lead this undertaking with arms wide open, and for the women in Africa directly impacted by their guts.
|Tina Francis, completing the She Loves Half-Marathon|
But me? I did not do what I felt God asked me to do.
I had a long list of reasons. I am busy with all the tinies, the house, the homeschooling, the nursing babe, family, friends, life. I am tired. I am the most out-of-shape I’ve ever been in my life. And even if I was in shape, darling, I have never been a runner. When I played fastpitch softball, I was clean-up hitter just because I had to hit that ball over the fence for the half-chance of making it to second base. I was that slow and awkward. I am even more slow and awkward now.
So even though I felt that nudge, the one I’ve come to recognise as the Holy Spirit announcing something new, inviting me into a place of sacred learning by stepping out of a boat right onto water, I said, “I can’t” to that Voice and so I didn’t do it.
It has bugged me ever since. Not in an “up all night crying” kind of way but just that little thorn, a paper cut, that sliver that keeps poking and pricking and bothering.
I had a chance to be a part of something really amazing, to tell a very cool story of love and sweat and work, and I said no.
So much of life is like that, isn’t it? We feel a nudge, an invitation, a passion, a burning, a bothering. I once heard that if you want to know where you’re called, take an honest look at what makes you angry. If something makes you angry – an injustice, in particular – that is as good as an engraved invitation to do something about it. And oh, I admit it, sometimes I’m so angry about womens’ issues (in the church and the world) that I want to burn down the Internet for every lie told to keep women down, to placate and patronize and neuter the strong voices of women, for every injustice done to our sisters and our own selves from the daily mundane lies to the violent abuses.
I feel like I have enough righteous anger for my sisters world-over that I could run that damn half-marathon today on passion alone.
But we all have a long list of reasons for not stepping out, speaking out, writing it out, singing it out, running it out, confronting, praying, laying on hands, working it out, being bold and courageous. It’s risky. I might fail. People may not like me. I may irritate people. I might be called names or receive a bit more nasty email. (People don’t like it when someone else gets out of the boat, do they?)
It’s easier to stay home and write tweets celebrating the ones actually doing something. And even though I want to live boldly, speak truthfully, love madly, work for justice, sometimes when I hear the Voice, the invitation, I shrug, “Meh – I’m tired” and I’ll just cheer on the women and men actually doing something instead and convince myself that it’s enough.
I have no idea what to do with this. It scares me to press publish.
It’s not about the running (I couldn’t run down the block today if I tried). It’s more about the lie that I believe still: I can’t do it, that I am not strong enough, my voice does not matter, the little work I can do won’t count for much. It’s about being a part of something bigger than myself and working for justice, making space for God, while defeating a core lie that I still, somehow, believe about myself and, perhaps, women.
It makes me a bit mad, to be honest. I feel ripped off.
I feel a holy discomfort.
I feel like I had a chance to do something amazing, bigger than my own abilities and I missed it.
It makes me want to pay more attention to the call to “Get out of the boat.
I want to walk – or run – on water.