Thursday, July 08, 2010

Running a Half Marathon: Hope, Justice, and Friendship Converge

Nearly two months ago I ran a half marathon. It was one of the most exhausting, physically and mentally challenging, and beautiful things I have participated in. Not because the hot day or 13.1 miles were particularly that scenic (though there were some great moments along the way), but it was a convergence of friendship, hope, reflection, and justice.

The last 6 months have been some of the busiest of my entire life. My wife and I bought our first house, found out we were expecting another little boy, realized that we didn’t have adequate insurance, had to move out of our apartment because our new house took too long to build, wrote a book, raised a hilarious and compassionate 2-year old, lived with my in-laws for four months (which went really, really well), amongst the normal things of our jobs, raising a family, enjoying our marriage, and more.

I don’t say any of that to sound impressive, and if you saw my running times for the half marathon, you’ll see and know, there’s not much to be impressed about...unless of course you have the keen perspective to see it a benefit to be able to run a half marathon for the entire duration of a Godfather movie. Instead, I wanted to say that I had every reason not to want to run, and many days my body tried to convince me that the major chaffage and general smell of my shoes in cooperation with the business of my life would make it stupid to even try to run a half marathon.

So when Jamie sent out an email to myself and some college friends taunting us with his bulging calves and promise of lapping us in the running of the Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, VA I laughed of course. And promptly thought that I’d send in a couple of bucks to help them as they looked to raise fund through running these races for their adoption process.

But how could I look into the face of Jamie Berry, well at least read the hilarity of his blog, and think that I could not support the former college housemate and founder of the famous wrestling move called “The Fishook” and not try to help out? In the midst of all the craziness of my life, the half marathon provided some much needed space, and best of all I could actually participate in helping good friends and great people participate in practicing justice, of joining with God in making things right in the world as they are seeking to adopt a sibling group from the 5 million orphans currently living in Ethiopia.

What I didn’t expect, when I told Jamie that I’d run and help him raise money to help offset the costs of the adoption, is that through the training and running of the race, that I’d be changed through the process as well, and that it would be such an emotional and powerful experience for me personally. But as I trained and ran the race, and found myself inhabiting quieter spaces, enjoying the beautiful hills of VA, and thinking about my family, the future hope of Jamie and Misty’s new family, and the joy of what that day will be like when these children will have a home, I began to realize to new depths the significance of what Jamie and Misty are doing together through adoption.

As I slowly crossed the finish line, and trust me, it was slowly, and my pregnant wife, extended family, and thousands of other people who I didn’t know cheered me on, I was reminded of the vision of what heaven may be like: when all people, in all of our glorious differences, with our different languages, experiences, nationalities and more, can be together and have a home where there is no more sorrow or pain, no more hunger or thirst, and no more orphans.

So, as I crossed the finish line, with tears welling up, I was reminded of the powerful significance of what Jamie and Misty are doing, as they are bringing into reality, for their part of the story, the vision of heaven here on earth. And though the next couple of days I could barely walk up or down stairs, and the chaffage made me scream when I tried to take showers, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh, and even cry when I think about the joy that Jamie and Misty will give as they become a new family with the orphans they will adopt; but I think that I also smile, laugh and cry, thinking about the joy, hope, and change that these once orphans and now sons and daughters will bring about in Jamie and Misty.

I thought that I was the one helping Jamie and Misty out, to raise money, spread awareness, and get my butt kicked by some streets near a college that wait-listed me even though “they really wanted more men to apply to help raise gender equality at the school (blah blah blah blah blah).” And I think I may have helped some. But honestly, I was so glad that Jamie and Misty have invited others and me to share in their journey and story of helping orphans halfway around the world become sons and daughters.

Thanks for letting this slow guy run and participate in such a great act of justice and hope as you raise funds and eventually adopt orphans from Ethiopia. If you’ve read this far, take a minute and see if you can’t support my friends as they move through this adoption process. Whether financially, you can donate here. Or by sending funny pictures for the blog, you can send them to Jamie here. Or by asking Jamie and Misty how you might be able to do something where you live or with them to help. Not only might it change your life, but it will certainly change the lives of a group of siblings looking to become part of a family, and that is a great place to have hope and justice converge.

Thanks for including me friends.
Josh Hayden