In my previous post, I described my heart imploding in loneliness like a dying star after my last race. I was spent physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt like I had nothing left to give. I had to be brought low in order to be open to what I was supposed to learn.
Here’s what I’m thinking thus far. I am not sure if this is all God has in store for me on this front, but perhaps you can relate.
Lesson #1: It’s okay to need help.
I much prefer being the helper instead of the helped. I revel in this role. It’s my role at work at least 40 hours a week and I’m pretty good at it there. This dynamic of Kelly being (ore pretending to be) the strong one oozes out into other parts of my life. After my race, I was weak. I was weak physically and needed to eat and I was fragile emotionally. I needed help. And help was provided in likely and unlikely places. When I shared my struggles openly and without pretense, friends rallied to help me celebrate and encourage me. I am thankful that these relationships directly countered the lies I’d believed. People do care. They care about me and about what I’m doing. My needs were met even in the most basic of ways. After the race ran out of food, there were two kids in their front lawn watching the runners and passing out Tootsie Rolls. I grasped one, told them they were my new best friends and ate the calories hungrily. You don’t always have to be strong. It’s okay to need help. And sometimes help comes from unlikely sources.
Lesson #2: Expectations are Tricky.
I didn’t think I’d gone into this race with any expectations. I thought it was a freebie. A pre-race. A warm up. But the difficulty of it proved that I had expectations which were unmet. Expectations that I didn’t even know I had! Expectations that there would be food for me! Expectations that everyone knew what I was doing. Expectations that others were aware of my plans and how hard the race had been. I signed up for this race last minute and didn’t share the details widely. I didn’t even realize, until confronted with their lack of fulfillment that I had expectations. A wise teacher told me long ago, “Unvoiced expectations are preconceived resentments.” Even as I say this, I want to say it apologetically for any resentment others experienced. The resentments are my issues because I didn’t voice my expectations not others’ faults for not living up to my subconscious expectations. Perhaps you’ve dealt with this. Have you ever had times when you’re upset and not quite sure why. Perhaps your resentments are due to unvoiced expectations.
Lesson #3: We need community.
I need people. I need people to celebrate with me. I need people to listen to me when I cry. I need people to give me food when I’m completely spent. And I need to be such a person to others. We need community, honesty, and sharing in the good times and in the trying. We are created to need each other. I was forced in new ways to depend on others during and after my run into loneliness. And for that I am thankful.
I know there are other purposes and lessons hiding in my experience. It was far too powerful to leave me unchanged. But this is where I’m living now. Wanting to share the good and the bad, determined not to paint my life as rosier than it really is. How about you? What are you learning?