I may not run with a group in Atlanta yet, but I run with people every Saturday morning. The five-mile loop around beautiful Stone Mountain gets crowded early, and the joggers/walkers/dogs/cyclists are as interesting to behold as the birds, carvings and flowers.
So today, in an effort to avoid a human traffic jam, I jumped off the sidewalk and ran on the ground near the mountain side of the trail. It was a mistake. I tripped over a tree root and crash… bam… in slow motion I thought, “I can’t avoid this fall.” And I tumbled, rolled and stopped.
“Are you OK?” two women asked in unison.
“Fine,” I smiled, knowing they wanted to be on their way. But I wanted to cry, “No! Come help me up!” I knew the quicker I rose, the better I’d be. I had dirt from shoulder to ankle on one side and blood trickling off my elbow and knee. I was unaware of it, though, until the next woman I passed asked, “Did you fall?”
I smiled again, “I wrestled a big bear.” She was past me then, but I imagined she smiled, too.
Then my worry became that my husband, who was walking the loop in the opposite direction, would come upon me before I could wash up. He gets crazy when I am clumsy and threatens to make me quit running. For Life. But I finished the loop and found a restroom to wash the evidence away before I encountered him. He didn’t even notice anything amiss. I ran another loop, a little slower than usual, starting to feel the damage inflicted, mostly from trying to stop the fall.
I’m scraped, a little swollen, and I’ll probably be sore tomorrow. But you know, I’ve had worse falls and worse abrasions. God took care of me. I could've rolled into a patch of poison oak that appears to be growing with abandon at the mountain. And I'm so allergic to it.
Aren’t falls like life? They offer many lessons: We need to be a little more careful when we get off the regular path. And perhaps when someone offers help, we can be quicker to accept. It might be smarter to run with friends... even husbands. But the biggest lesson of all… we will fall sometime--whether it’s a death in the family, job loss, car crash or illness--but will we get back up on the trail and keep going?
We can do it with God's help.
"For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up." Ecclesiastes 4:10 NASB