Introduce two long distance runners and you will not have to worry about an awkward silence in the conversation. I have been at countless events such as parties and business meetings where a total stranger and I will meet. Once we realize both are runners it’s over for anyone hoping to change the topic; we will discuss what races we have run and plan to run, training adventures, and anything else remotely related to the sport. After a few minutes the non-runners get bored. A recent occurrence of this resulted in my friend pointing out how odd it was for me to be talking about chaffed nipples with someone I had known for less than ten minutes. “We bonded;” I replied, “It is what made that party so much fun!” She just laughed and shook her head. This practice seems to apply outside the United States as well. Something about running unites people. It makes sense that we talk enthusiastically about things that we love.
In some parts of the world, external expressions of faith are banned. More often, however, the restrictions are self-imposed. Polite folks avoid the topic of religion. We even keep our homes secularized so no one else is offended. One would think that we’d feel comfortable showing off our faith in our own homes but the “don’t offend” mentality is pervasive. People of good faith would say that external expressions do not necessarily indicate an internal faith but we fear becoming “one of those people” that we squash speaking about our spiritual side at all. I once asked a friend about his intention to raise his children in a religion. He replied that the decision was entirely up to them and neither had said they wanted to go to Church. I asked him if he’d let his young ones decide about drinking alcohol, using drugs, or even what food they’d eat for dinner. He just stared blankly at me. Faith is an important aspect of our lives. Not exposing the kids to any faith and expecting that they’ll chose one is similar to expecting them to choose salad over ice cream.
This blog entry is more a challenge to me than to others. I need to feel more comfort speaking about God. I see the bond with others over running. How much greater will be it if the topic of conversation is something more important? The intention is not to offend but to share my love of God with another.