I ran into loneliness. Literally.
Last weekend I participated in a Half Marathon. I signed up last minute to psychologically boost myself in preparation for my races in January and February. Those are the ones that are important to me. In my head this one was a freebie. I had no time goals. It was just for fun and to prove to myself that I could do it. I thought it was unimportant, but it turned out to be life changing.
I showed up at the start line just as the gun fired to release the pack. I was ready. Neoprene donned, water belt filled, bladder evacuated, breakfast eaten! I was ready to go. And for the first 8.5 miles, I did great. I was pacing myself to a 12 minute mile and pleased with how things were going physically. Mentally was another matter though.
Most people deal with thoughts like, “I can’t do this. I have to stop.” when they hit their mental wall. I didn’t. The lies that filled my head were, “You will finish, but no one cares. You are alone. No one is with you. No one cares about this race and no one cares about you.” It was perhaps the loneliest I’ve ever felt. The feelings were real, but the source was false. People do care about me and about my accomplishments. They want to celebrate with me. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get those lies out of my head. They swam in my brain and took up residence for hours.
I was pacing well and was mentally focused on getting to mile 8.5 where they’d give out Gu packets (an energy gel). I just knew that when I got that, life would be better and I’d be able to finish the race well. Except they ran out of Gu packets just before I got there. Picture Kelly imploding like a dying star. The second half of the race was rough. I was spent physically, emotionally, spiritually, and had nothing to replenish myself in any arena. I walked and ran whenever possible. I was surrounded by people and was at the same time totally alone.
I rounded the very last corner and saw the finish line and started crying. Not out of a sense of accomplishment or joy, but because I knew no one was waiting for me. I cross the finish line crushing my previous recored by 11 minutes, got my medal, realized they also ran out of food at the finish line, hobbled to my car, and drove home. Still believing the lies and unable to celebrate my accomplishments.
Why do I share this tear-filled day of terribleness? Because I learned from it. Every experience matters. God does not waste pain. But He also doesn’t necessary share the purpose or the lesson right away. I had to sit in the mess for a while before gaining some understanding. So I will make you, dear reader, do the same. Life is messy, we must live in the midst of it.
What is your mess right now? What makes you cry? What lies are swimming around in your head and taking up permanent residence? Think about those things and know that God does not waste pain.