- Sonya Leigh Anderson
Rhythm & Stride
Updated: May 25, 2022
I heard clearly from God on a Sunday morning, and it wasn’t at church. It was somewhere between miles seven and eight of the Medtronic TC10, the part of the race that in past years has been the most grueling, but this year I somehow found my stride. And came alive.
I found my rhythm. And this year, maybe more than any other—living lately somewhat out of rhythm, stumbling a bit to find my stride—the race became a metaphor for a season of life.
How do you know when you’ve found your stride?
Every year I run this race with my dearest friends, and every year I start out thinking—this time I’m going to stick with my pack. A half dozen of us running side-by-side, start to finish. Staying the course, watching out for each other. And every year I fail to do it, eventually losing sight of my people in the crush of the crowd. Separated from familiar faces. And this year I figured out why.
The key to the race is finding my rhythm by trusting my stride.
The first six or so miles I ran in sync with my newest friend, Erin. Our strides matching, much like our spirits connecting, when first we met at church. We started out chatting, conversation covering the distance from US Bank Stadium, past the outskirts of the U of M, over the river bridge. But eventually we settled into a mutual silence. Erin losing herself in headphones and music. Me lost in the beauty of the colors of fall. And then, right around the time I heard someone say we’d reached mile seven, my friend and I (by mutual agreement) parted ways. Each of us needed to find our own pace.
It was the long stretch of Summit Avenue, sidewalks scattered with encouraging fans—including my own husband and son—when I really began to worship. Teary eyed and unforced smile. “Thank you. Thank you.” My thoughts abandoned to my generous God. Audible thanks to the good folks applauding. Somewhere in route there was music, and a crowd. Cow bells, and posters, and spirited cheering. And then, clear as the sunrise on this autumn morning, He gave me this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
We run together, surrounded by witnesses. Each of us finding our stride for the race.
Later I’d check my stats and confirm my suspicion—comparing mile five with mile eight. By the last leg of the race I’d found my pace.
I was made to do this. My soul sang this phrase on repeat, while running. God giving and me receiving. A gift of rhythm. God-shaped stride. More than a race. This is life. And it felt like worship.
This fall—this season—has been a bit grueling. I realize now, I’ve been running a race with no training. Just showed up to the start gate thinking I could learn on the fly. Heart beating out of my chest. And of course I’m struggling to find my stride.
But it’s only a season. And even in this. Maybe. I can find some sort of rhythm.
“The watchword for seasons isn’t balance. It’s rhythm. And rhythm requires a different approach.” I read these words in a book just this morning. Spiritual Rhythm—an old favorite by Mark Buchanan. He reminds us—reminds me—that more often than not we’ll find ourselves in unbalanced seasons. Too much of this. Not enough of that. And yet. There can always be rhythm in a spiritual sense.
The final stretch of the TC10 is a steep downhill toward our St. Paul capitol. To be honest, a dangerous way to end a race. Legs unsteady, too much momentum, catch a toe—I’ve seen it happen. Keep your stride. Keep the rhythm. All the way to the finish line.
I was made to do this.
All day, post-race, I basked in the sense of God’s provision. Alive in HIM; I really can do this. Throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (the fear and doubt and strangling lies)—I will run with perseverance, eyes fixed on Jesus, great crowd of witnesses. Keeping my stride, my rhythm, I will run this race.