Before I ran my first half marathon, I asked my friend Lori – the only runner I knew at the time – for advice.  It was seven years ago, and I was a running newbie.  Lori counseled me on many topics, including when to use the port-o-potties at the start.  That bit of advice promptly flew out the other ear.  Surely I could find nice plumbing in a nearby hotel.  Lori and I lived states apart, and I’m certain I heard her smirk over the phone as I informed her I wasn’t a port-o-potty user.  Well.  Since Lori’s gracious alert, I’ve run 10 marathons and 3 halves, and I estimate I’ve used 23 port-o-potties.  I was forced to let go of my potty issues to participate in my passion and finish in good fashion.  Those stinkin’ things are part of the experience, and I’m thankful for them.  Yes, I’m thankful for port-o-potties.  I’m also learning to appreciate the “port-o-potties” of life.  Bear with me as I make a gigantic, metaphoric leap from potty talk to real suffering . . . the trials we endure on our journey are necessary to deepen our relationship with God.

The saying is sure:  If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us . . . 2 Timothy 2:11

I have friends facing “port-o-potties” that stink to high heaven.  Challenges of illness, loss, and tragedy have disrupted their lives and caused anger and sadness.  I don’t know why God allows weighty challenges, and I won’t have the full answer until I get to ask Him in person.  As I witness my friends’ journeys, however, their willingness to let go of their control issues and lean on God inspires me.  When a hurdle brings us to our knees, our inability to do anything without God becomes more than something we say or think.  We get to choose to either believe it and embrace it or try to take control ourselves.  I believe if we trust God and open our hearts to His plan, our relationship with Him grows.  When I’m hit with a “port-o-potty” of life, I want to open its germ-covered door and sit on its disgusting seat with the grace of God and humbleness my friends have embraced.  None of them would say it’s been easy, and I know darkness visits daily.  I struggle to be thankful for the sufferings of life that in no way compare to the insignificant problem of a lack of race-day plumbing.  What I am thankful for is a God who picks us up when we let Him.

Dear God, when trials come my way, please help me want to lean on you and grow in understanding of the path you have paved for me.