About eight years ago I began running. This was a new venture for me, mostly because I had always participated in team sports that included running, but did not have it as the focal point. There was always a ball involved, and that orb of great delight somehow made me forget my legs were churning rapidly beneath me. But as I finished college, settled into graduate work, I realized something needed to be done.
During this time in my life, Bradley lived across the hall from me. He was a real runner. I mentioned to him that I was thinking about becoming a runner, and as though he had been waiting for these very words to spill forth from my mouth, he instantly invited me along on a run with him. Whether from bravado, insanity, or just a general lack of intelligence, I agreed to join him the following day on what he termed an “easy” run.
While I can attest that not much was easy about that run, something did happen that was so defining it has kept me running. As Bradley and I hit the road each day, every step, every moment became an opening into who we both were, where we both had come from, and where we hoped we were going. This common struggle united us because neither of us could hide from the other. Our labored breathing, our aching muscles – these were merely physical manifestations of internal battles and relational pain experienced in every day life. Yet, as we invested in each other, mile upon mile, these pains began to fade away, and in their place joy entered, love appeared.
When we ran together, there was nowhere to hide. This transparency forced us to draw nearer to each other, to support one another, to challenge one another in a way unthinkable when we were just two guys who lived across the hall from each other. And while Bradley remained a much better runner than I, his very act of coming alongside me, opening his life to me, sacrificing speed for relationship taught me that a life marked by peace is not one that avoids difficult tasks; it is not one that seeks seclusion in order to minimize conflict. Rather, a life of peace is one that enters into the tasks and trials of everyday life, mile by mile, step by step, moment by moment into the places and relationships where there is no place to hide, where the true self is revealed, where life is hard and the outcome unknown – but that is OK, because you are not alone.