In order for me to get a run in during the week, I have to work out at 5:30am. That means my coffee pot goes off at 4:30am, I am awake by 4:50 to brush my teeth and get ready, and leave my house to meet up with my running partner, Lisa, by 5:25am.(thanks to Aleta who joined me for a 5:25am run last week! All are welcome!)
4:50am is HELLA early. There really is no other way to describe it. I lay out my coffee cup the night before and position the creamer (in the refrigerator) on the shelf so that all I have to do is reach in and grab it. My eyes are still closed while pouring the coffee, but the very aroma of the brew wakes me up. Yes, I am the Folger’s commercial….
I slump into my favorite chair at the dining table, and, by now, I can hear my dog’s collar and tags jingle as he joins me in the kitchen. I open the screen door, let him out, and make sure that I put him on his tie-out. Our dog is black; and, at 4:55am, so is the sky.
I pull into the meeting spot where Lisa and I have agreed upon via text messages the night before our run. And, usually, the text messages are back-and-forth around 11:30pm. At 5:20am, it’s still too dark to really make out her car, but I know it’s her: She’s the only car in the parking lot. And, at that time in the morning, she is the only other car on the road.
It’s early. And, each time I pull into the parking lot, I think “Okay, Lisa made it out here. But if it wasn’t for us meeting, I’d still be in bed!”
Yet, as nature has it, by the time we say our “hellos”, our “God, this so early!”, and our check-in of what kind of workout we’ll do — running, walking, jogging, interval training — Mother Nature turns on the light. It has begun.
Now, don’t be fooled — I fight getting out of bed, I resist hitting “snooze” out of fear that I’ll sleep through our meeting time. I’m half asleep while brushing my teeth, am surprised that I haven’t suffered any burns from grabbing the coffee cup with my eyes closed, and I am sometimes unaware of how I drove from Point A to Point B. I whine through the first mile, and repeatedly utter “Seriously, this is too early.”
Most days, I just get through the 4-6 miles with Jay-Z, P. Diddy, or some Eminem yelling in my ears. I tune out, become one with my nothing, and feel every single step of the way.
Today was different, though. I focused less on pain, and more on peace.
I jogged slowly enough that I could trace the rising of the sun over the lake. And, for the first time, in a very long time, I felt God. Some of this is spurred from my oldest child coming back from Bible camp. She has never talked about God much, but I know that she felt God’s presence in her life this week. Last night, she spoke at an appreciation banquet for a national service organization. And, before going on stage, she asked me to pray with her for strength and courage.
When Joli was diagnosed with cancer — and even now, with my own journey — my faith was tested. I was angry with God. The “why does this happen to good people?” attitude swallowed me up, and it created a black hole in my soul. It’s not fair. It’s not right.
One of my former students, Meisha, wrote her Facebook status as this: “That which doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you.” I had to laugh when I read this because it’s so true for me. No, sometimes “that which doesn’t kill you” doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. I don’t think we need to experience pain in order to learn, love, and grow. I’ve heard from so many people through Mb4M, through Facebook or blogs that they have grown stronger simply from hearing stories or being inspired by something or someone.
Sometimes we grow from the pain of others.
Yet, my family has experienced a lot of pain in the past few years. And, I’ve always said that I would never wish what we went through on my worst enemies (yes, I’ve got them!). So, my wish for my friends is that you grow stronger from some of the pain you see, hear, and read — especially here. I’ll go through it; I don’t have a choice. But, you can choose what you do with what you read here.
I hope, each day, you choose love.
I hope, each day, you choose love for yourself.
I hope, each day, you take the time to find beauty/light/humanity in yourself, the people in your home, your family, your community, your work, and in your life.
It’s not easy, it never is.
Yes, the morning starts out dark; but eventually the sun does rise.
Peace, love, and … well … peace,