“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
– Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
I’ve thinking about this verse for about a week now thanks to a Facebook wall post by my friend Heather. She posted a link to a blog on this same verse and said that while reading it, it reminded her of me. Thanks Heather, I’m humbled to know that friends like you actually do care more for the person and not what you can gain from them.
I read the blog. Really, I read it several times. I loved it! I love this verse. While this verse is not my favorite Bible verse, it is up there in the top of my lists. It’s one of those verses that you don’t always think about but it’s there as a reminder when you feel burdened or you start a case of “keeping up with the Jones’.”
Actually, without realizing it, I kind of needed to read the blog posting at that point. Maybe Heather was called to post it on my wall to call me out without even knowing that’s what she was doing. I was getting into a rut. Work was getting tough, training for the 100 was getting tough, and I was starting to pull away from certain aspects of life. I needed that wake-up call.
Sadly, I was stuck in that rut of those pesky “Jones’” for a long, long time. Much of the first year and a half of my running, I was so ensnared into the “group” and the “group runs” that I missed parts of my life as it passed me by. I kept up with friendships that were shallow and let the true friends slowly slip away. Family was no longer a priority, running and more specifically running friends were. I did things because “everyone else was doing them.” Case in point, my first year of running; I ran in 34 total races! 34! What was I thinking? I was racing practically every weekend. Sure, I was getting faster. Sure, I was gaining more notoriety in the Augusta running community. Sure, I was becoming a favorite of the other runners in the clique. But at what cost was all this happening? I may never truly know the real cost of that time spent being a slave to the yoke of running with a group.
Thankfully; I came back to my faith and my God that allows for us to make mistakes without holding it against us. Thankfully, most of those true friends I let slip were gracious enough to pick right back up where we left off. And those who decided to cut their losses with me… I don’t blame them. I wasn’t the David they came to know. The best part, I became friends with people who had a passion and a willingness to be there for each other through all aspects of life. Not just runners who had passion but people who were passionate about other things. I’m talking about people who are passionate about serving others and not worrying much about their own needs. Friends that are willing to cast aside their emotions and do what’s right for the greater good of the community as a whole. New friends that I’m sure will have my back and set me on the straight and narrow when I start sliding back in the “Jones’ rut.” For that I’m thankful. For that I know I have the freedom to be me.
Don’t get me wrong; I still see and mildly associate with many of the group of runners that I once spent many a day with running. I respect many of them whether it’s because of how well they run and train or because of their determination to reach a goal. Who wouldn’t respect that? I did cut some ties with people not because they are bad people but more for personal reasons. I just can’t get wrapped up in the lifestyle of constantly having to go and do just because everyone else is doing it. I know I have been gossiped about. I know people have less than favorable impressions of me now than they did before. Guess what? I’m totally okay with that. Actually, I’m at peace with it. I don’t have that burden of worrying what others think of me. As the chorus goes in Francesca Battistelli’s song “I’m Free to Be Me” goes:
“’Cause I’ve got a couple dents in my Fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
And on my own, I’m so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me and You’re free to be You.”
Be free. Do what you love, stand firm and don’t worry about how others will view you. The people who matter will be there for you every step of the way…even if you stumble.