The importance of community

The last few weeks have been a little difficult for me mentally and emotionally.

I ran a GREAT 20-miler two weeks ago Saturday and since then, it’s like my mojo has been misplaced. My motivation to keep training has sagged even though I know that it’s precisely the dedication to my training that produced a good run.

Specifically, I’ve been struggling with my times – I have slowed down immensely since I caught a little stomach bug a few weeks back. I had been creeping down into the 10s and even into the 9s a little and was feeling really good. Then I got sick and I’m back to the 11s and 12s. It’s been a little disheartening to see that.

In the midst of that, I reached out to some friends to share what I was feeling. I could logic why things were the way they were, I could explain it without giving excuses, but the logic didn’t really have much effect on the emotions. I still felt slow, I felt like I was sucking, I wondered if I would ever speed up, if I would ever not suck, if I would ever stop aching.

These are the moments we need people on our side, in our corner, cheering us on. People with whom we can be vulnerable without fear of judgment. It would be really easy for me to keep all that emotion bottled up and never say anything, belittling myself for feeling those feelings, knowing I can’t compare myself to other people who don’t have small children and now have the free time to dedicate to that kind of training. It’s easy to do that, to wonder why those older than me are so much faster than me.

I needed my community to support me and that is precisely what I got. I was reminded that I can only do what I do. I was reminded that I am pretty awesome. I was reminded that I am physically able to run. I was reminded that the times will come. I was reminded that my identity is found in Christ and not in my minutes per mile. It took a few days for all of that to sink in, but yesterday and today, it’s like I found my mojo hiding under the covers or something. I rocked my workout yesterday, I sped through today’s 5-miler (in 52 minutes, if you’re curious), and I am feeling motivated to continue these last few weeks leading up to the marathon.

We live in a time where people are so quick to jump and judge, to invalidate feelings and emotions, to tear down instead of build up. However, when we build community, we have a place to go when we are weak and defeated to be supported and built up. Over the summer, I have really internalized the lessons I’ve learned from reading Boundaries. I am internalizing that I have worth by simply being me and not because I have accomplished something. I have found this community where I can be me, where I accept my community members as they are, and where we are all heading the same direction.

If I want to continue to pursue Christ, I have to be around other people who are doing the same, even if we aren’t in the same place spiritually. As long as we are all heading the same way, we can grow in the way that God is calling us to grow. I remember in previous Bible studies, I have searched for this peace about myself that I have just come to find. I find it pretty easy to accept other people as they are, the place in life they’re in, the decisions they make based on their life experiences but I have difficulty extending that same grace to myself.

Until now.

As I learn about myself, as I learn how to extend grace to myself, I give myself the ability to mess up and grow. A mistake is not a permanent mark on my character, it is not an indication of a flaw that diminished my worth – it is simply a mistake, an indication of being human. I have struggled to accept my humanity. My new community has helped tremendously in my ability to accept that because they are human, too. They swear at or around their kids. They lose patience. They don’t want to spend one more second at home today. They don’t want to be touched anymore. They get exasperated. They say things they wish they hadn’t. All of these imperfections in the women that surround me give me strength to carry on, to keep going, to trust myself as a mother and a person.

Community.

It is SO important to find. Whether in real life or online (preferably a mix of both), it is what keeps us all moving forward in life.

 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. –Hebrews 10:19-25

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