It was over coffee with a sweet friend, a few months ago now, when she looked me square in the eye, as honest and real as could be and said, "Maeve, I just left and went for a drive. I had to go."
This friend was a recently married twenty something too. We were sharing the sweet parts but also the challenges. The whole sharing your life, your world, your mess with another person - every. single. day.
And sometimes that vulnerability can be too much. You just want to run. Not all together, just from the feelings you can't fully articulate, the arguments you really don't feel like rehashing, the moments of having to swallow your pride and say - I'm sorry.
Intimate relationships aren't the only place we run. It's in other places too. When our jobs make us frustrated and tired and we lack a sense of purpose or belonging. When friends let us down. When we see photos on social media of folks laughing and sipping fancy cocktails and think - why wasn't I invited?
(In comes that tiny voice in my head // because, you don't know them, Maeve.)
Sometimes we run from God. We run when bad things happen to good people and we can't help but ask - "If you're the God I know and love, how could you?"
I know these feelings. I know the feeling of white knuckles wrapped around a steering wheel, with pursed lips and a heavy heart. I think there is a need to run in all of us. The desire to drive down a windy country road held between farms and rolling green hills.
When I drive, going nowhere in particular, it's as if the open space hugging the road is hugging me too. And sometimes that's good. Sometimes taking a walk or going for a drive when life feels heavy is good.
But sometimes staying is better.
Because when we run - when we always flee, it's so hard to build community. It's rather hard to build anything, actually. It's hard to develop deep, honest, raw relationships right where you are.
It's hard to look your soul in the mirror and get to know the parts that make you tick or passionate or bitter.
The goodness of staying is always made more real and true when people gather around my table.
Suddenly I want to unpack my things and not buy a one-way ticket. Suddenly I savor the interruptions and inconveniences. I celebrate evening walks during the summer, early morning coffee dates, and watching the rain fall on my front stoop.
Staying means telling the person to your right how you see God moving in and through them. Telling them why you find them beautiful and amazing just as they are.
Telling them - thank you for staying. I'm sure some days you might want to run - from the responsibilities and expectations. But you didn't today, you chose to stay.
Staying means rubbing basil leaves between my fingers and bringing my hands up close to my nose and smelling the sweet fragrance of God's earth. And thanking the hard-working, calloused hands who picked the basil I stir in my curry.
Staying is my neighbor who works two part time jobs to feed and clothe her kids.
Staying is four dear friends who wake up extra early on Wednesdays to have coffee.
Staying means loving another person more deeply than you could have ever know. Even on the days they annoy the heck out of you. And chances are, you are annoying the heck out of them.
Staying is an art and a fight. It's bitter and it's sweet. It's choosing to show up on the days you'd rather stay in bed. It's choosing to marvel over the shapes of the clouds and sound of the rain.
It's choosing not to give up hope on this one, glorious, messy, creative life.
What's staying look like to you friend? Does it comes easy or does it hurt? Share below. I'd LOVE to hear from you.