She lapped me twice yesterday. Twice. She an avid marathon runner. Me an avid “hope I get through this jaunt without tripping on a rock” walker. My lap around the neighborhood is about a mile in lengt
h. Her lap a bit further than mine. We made our cursory nods at one another the first time she passed me. She’s not much of a talker. Running is serious business for this gal. But when I heard her steps encroaching upon my territory the second go around, I decided to break our customary silence.
“I’m going to ‘facebook’ that you lapped me twice today! I used to run, but I can’t anymore. I’ve been through cancer, and it’s slow
ed my pace. You’re my inspiration!”
It was then that she did something I’ve never seen her do before. She stopped running (she was now several paces ahead of me), turned around and said…
“No, you’re my inspiration. Look at you. You’re jogging slowly. Someday we’ll run together.”
I nodded my thanks, and we departed company. It’s highly unlikely that I will ever be able to keep pace with her stride, but I liked her idea—this “running together.” It started me thinking about the men and women with whom I currently keep pace. Those who are stepping the path of cancer and who are moving forward with their healing. There are many of us. Too many to name in one post. Another 1.5 million will be added to the roll call this year alone.
And while I may not be able to run with the marathon momma in our neighborhood, I’ve been privileged to run with many valiant cancer-warriors in the course of my last year. Some of them I was able to meet face-to-face this weekend.
All of us cancer survivors. Three of us breast cancer survivors. One a momma-survivor—her precious son, Andrew, marking the path home to heaven increasing our hopeful expectation for what awaits us all at the end of the road. I am honored to call these women friends; they have stood with me, prayed for me, touched me with their love—all from a distance, and just this past weekend, in the flesh. As I recently wrote in my book proposal…
“Suffering need, needs a suffering friend. Not just any friend, but a friend who has walked a similar road.”
Certainly, we need a variety of friendships. But there is something uniquely special about having a “come-alongside” friend who grasps the fullness of our pain, whether that pain issues forth from cancer or from some other type of “disease” that is eating away at our flesh. We need those who will keep pace with our stride, not move ahead of us or lag behind but who willingly enter into our struggles because their stories mirror ours. Out of the comfort we have known we must, in turn, offer comforting comfort to others (see 2 Cor. 1:3-5).
I don’t know what that will look like for you in the days to come, but I imagine there will surface a person in the next week who will need the benefit of your comfort. Perhaps a “suffering need” with which you are well familiar. Promises regarding a “future run together” fall flat to a heart that is suffering. What proffers hope is an offer of willing participation, a decision to stop running ahead and to start keeping pace with personal pain. A slowing down so that the hurting heart might catch up, look up, live up in the midst of trial.
God needs you to minister his comfort to his children. You cannot be all things to all people, but you can be a friend to one. Would you be willing to pay attention to the lives that cross your path today? There is someone who needs the tenderness and kindness of heaven. God has entrusted you with the privilege of this glorious dispensation. Suffering need, needs a suffering friend. Out of the comfort you have known, minister comfort. As always…
Peace for the journey,
PS: According to random.org, the winner of Glynnis Whitwer’s I Used to Be So Organized is Kathy S. And because my friend, Cindy, is the queen of organization and simplicity, I’m sending her a copy as well. Leave a comment today to be entered into a give-away for Michael O’Brien’s CD Be Still My Soul.