Tuesday, May 6, 2014

being better than we are

The past few Mondays I've been running with J. He's one of the homeless guys in my running group. J's always a few steps ahead of me, and I would run faster to keep up  with him but I can never be sure that the next traffic light will turn red in time for us to stop and get a breather. So instead I huff and puff just a little bit behind him and hope that we'll talk a little bit at those red traffic lights, and for the thirty seconds after we start again and I'm able to keep pace with him.

This arrangement, and the fact that J. is reserved, means that after a few times running with him, I am just getting to know about his life. This week we talked some about running, and how he ran track in high school, the 100 meters. "I could run fast then. Before I started smoking." He's tried to stop, he said, but stress makes it hard. I agreed - I have my own habits that are hard to kick.

My run this morning was solitary, in the quiet neighborhoods around the Rose Bowl. The sky gradually turned from black to gray to light blue. The air was cool. I heard birds singing, and occasionally passed some runners or walkers, but otherwise I was completely alone. I've been trying to pray during these morning runs, and this morning J. came to mind. I prayed for him and his job interviews and his smoking habit. During prayer, I found myself wanting J. to know that he can be better than he is, and not just in a pull-yourself-up kind of way, but in a deep, life-changing, spirit way. I wanted him to know that God changes things.

As a writer, I love revising pieces. I love seeing where sentences are out of place, or where words can be cut, and then seeing how those changes make the piece completely new, and stronger and more powerful. I think that's why, as I was praying for J., I started thinking of God's process in our lives as revision. A different thought - one from God - during stressful times could help J. kick that smoking habit in a decisive way. A new way of seeing himself and his life is a key to being better than he is.

I wanted to share this news spot from Indianapolis, about the local Back on My Feet chapter. One of the guys interviewed says that, before he started the program, he found himself "just doing the same thing." The program was an opportunity to get in on the revising that God wants to do in his life.

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