It was a few weeks back. I was loading the kids into the car with the hopes that enough trips around the block would put them to sleep. Christian had been reading all day and I was about to hit the moment where my whining far exceeded my children. Luckily we had somewhere to go.
Earlier that day I had agreed to meet my friend on her run so she didn’t have to carry her Gatorade. Brooke is training for a marathon, something she has loudly and boldly spent the last three years proclaiming she would not do. Brooke has been a runner for as long as I have known her, but she has always categorized herself as, not crazy nor dumb enough to run a marathon. But, Erin-Leigh managed to bully her into it. Erin-Leigh who was in no way classified as a runner, decided she would run a marathon for the education of girls in developing nations and roped Brooke into it.
I think the breaking point may have come a few moments before small group. They were talking just before Brooke was to arrive and she walked into my house and said “Erin-Leigh just said to me, she said, How bout this. You run the half marathon and I will run the full marathon and just imagine how you will feel when we meet at the finish line. Jerk. Now I think I have to do it.” There may have been a little pouting involved that evening.
Isn’t it always our closest friends who know just what to say to get under our skin, to prod us to bigger things?
And this left me loading my children into the van to meet Brooke in a random parking lot and hydrate her. I had gotten the Rooster in, despite her arching back and yells of protest, and was rounding the back of the golden tail gate when I heard the Peanut ask me. “Where we going.” “We’re going to meet Miss Brooke.” (I am raising my kids in the south, this is how we refer to adults.) “Why-y-y?” came the whiny question from the two-year-old who doesn’t nap, but still needs one. “Well, when people do things that are Brave and Strong we help them.”
Sometimes truth comes out of my mouth, and I don’t know how true it is until my ears have heard it. When people do things that are Brave and Strong, we help them. It has become the best rule I have ever invented; (no wrestling in the bathtub is a close second) it has become a new way to structure our lives. If our friends are doing something brave and strong, we make it a priority to help them.
It is brave and strong to decide to run a marathon. It is brave and strong to pair the training effort with a fundraising effort you have no way of completing on your own terms. It is brave and strong to let the state of 26 girls halfway around the world creep its way into your heart as you dare to not just run for these girls, but love them.
Can I tell you that this is what has happened? That it started as a thing that these two ladies were doing something to check off their bucket list but it quickly became so much more than that. Erin-Leigh and Brooke became invested in the idea that educating girls can in fact change a community, and a nation. They began seeing these 26 girls that they are trying to get sponsored as sisters in this world. The future of these 26 unnamed girls who will benefit from an education they otherwise would not have become very, very important to these marathon runners. More important than the number of miles in a marathon, the number of steps they have taken in their training, the number of dollars they still need to raise, these girls have become more important than all of that.
Somewhere along those training runs these girls became dear to Brook and Erin-Leigh. I watched as Brooke explained what she was doing to our monthly women’s Bible study. I watched as she choked up attempting to explain how her heart had gotten all tangled up in the hearts of these girls. “I know it sounds like they need me, but really we aren’t all that different. They are just like me. I need them too.”
It is brave and strong to live your life in a way that entangles your heart with the hearts of others.
Dreaming of going to school when no girl in your family has ever gone is brave and strong. Getting an education is scary when none of your friends are doing it, doing it anyway is brave and strong. Learning a way that is different from what your mom and grandmother and aunts have done, one that will increase the chances of your entire community, is brave and strong.
It seems as though Brooke and Erin-Leigh had already discovered my new rule. When people do things that are brave and strong, we help them
Would you take a minute to pray for Brooke and Erin-Leigh, for the rest of their training and the marathon on March 17th, for the remainder of their fundraising efforts. If you would like to help them do this brave and strong thing you can donate here.