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A Trio of Tri Stories: Part 1

June 3, 2011

It has been awhile since I’ve posted anything. Other than traveling the world, here is what has been keeping me busy.

Several months ago a member of my congregation approached me about my workout habits. I told him that I had been a part of a running group at my last church, but hadn’t found anyone to run with or hold me accountable since moving to Snellville. We moved on to talk about a few other things, and I thought he had bought my lame excuse. But before I knew it he and others had created a triathlon-training group within the church, and somehow conned me into not only joining the training group, but also signing up for a triathlon sprint race.

So train I have, and it’s been good for me to do this with members of my congregation. I have suffered with them in a way very different from the empathy that comes at a hospital bed or graveside. I have literally walked beside them when our bodies would not allow us to run one more step. We have cried out in pain together as our muscles screamed at us from sheer exhaustion. I have seen what makes them excited, exhausted, and frustrated. And perhaps more importantly, they have seen those same things in me.

Shortly after the group was formed there was a night we received our loaner bikes. As I wobbled around the CLC on mine, transfixed by the “I think I can” sticker attached to the handlebar, I was not sure exactly what I had gotten myself into. It had been years since I had been on a bike…probably not since middle school. And the phrase “it’s just like riding a bike” is true to some extent…once you learn you don’t forget how. But your skills may get a little rusty and things like riding in a straight line and stopping require a little practice.

I was in this childlike sense of slight terror and excitement when one of my parishioners, who happens to be an accomplished triathlete, made the comment, “I like getting to see you like this.” I responded, “How? Completely clueless as to what I’m doing?” He smiled and nodded, “Sort of like a deer in the headlights. You just seem so confident when you’re preaching and teaching, it’s good to see this side of you when you’re out of your comfort zone.”

Training for a triathlon has definitely been outside of my comfort zone. But after his comment, I realized just how important it was to allow others to see these moments of vulnerability. When I am at the church, I’m pretty comfortable. I can speak in front of a large crowd with ease. Sharing my beliefs with others comes almost as second nature. And I love to teach and preach.

Yet these may be areas where others feel very vulnerable. Simply stepping inside a church building or Bible study class may make some people feel wobbly or in need of training wheels. So to share with them an area where I feel a little uncomfortable may be all they need to feel more comfort. To remember for a moment that I am simply a human too, trying to figure it all out with them, may be just what we all need to recognize that we can learn from each other and grow closer together in the body of Christ.

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