Updated: Jan 2, 2019
December 14, 2018
“Half marathon.” The words taste sweet in my mouth, replacing what used to seem so bitter and punishing. Finishing my very first half marathon…impossible. At one point of my life it just about would have been.
Former soccer player who loved running, gained her college freshman fifteen and then some. And then some more. Needless to say my athleticism was shot and my love for running twisted into a fear of it. Instead of fighting for something I loved so much, I sank deeper into this pit. It brought waves of anxiety, depression, severe self-consciousness, and acting out to compensate for it all. A simple flight of stairs left me huffing and puffing. It felt like everyone could hear me and my flaws were exposed. I began to recluse, not wanting anyone to perceive me as weak or incapable or, even worse, pity me.
It amazes me to witness and experience the pits we all dig ourselves into the more we try to deny or outrun our weaknesses. We will take every route that seems easiest even when our gut is screaming, “wrong way!” After years of poor decisions overflowing into every area of my life. Years of seeking to gain total control and pushing God into a corner. One day I realized I had spun completely out of control. I gave my bad habits and lifestyle choices to Him. I asked Him to break down this whole way of life. And He did. He never hesitated. He never threw my stubbornness, weaknesses, and straight up rudeness in my face. His love means forgiveness and grace that doesn’t ask what I have done but what I am going to do. He was asking me what was I going to do to get out of this grimy pit: would I continue in my ways (since it obviously had been working so well for me) or was I willing to give His way a try?
Did His way mean surrendering to a never-ending list of rules? Did His way mean no longer having fun? Did His way mean a boring lifestyle and giving up all that I love here on earth? These questions circulated through my mind, but I knew I couldn’t keep going in the ways I had before. It had brought destruction to my life and I was broken beyond my own ability to repair it. His way, however, was strategically developed into small steps. His way did not require perfection; it just required me to show up. Show up for a fun hip hop exercise class, where I met the most incredible group. Show up to their house when invited for a home workout class. Show up when they invited me to do fun things. Show up when they also needed a friend. Step-by-step, my prayer for friends and for health was answered, all the while full of laughter.
Easing my way in, I showed up for one class then another at our local YMCA. This community of people building their health – heart, mind, soul, and strength – gave me hope in a healthful life that lacked anything but adventure. Thank you, God. The more I tried the more I loved it and developed confidence. This confidence has led to a life of constantly trying new things and meeting the most incredible people. One of whom coaches marathon runners. A wish that used to seem just that – a wish – was now being set into reality with the right mindset and now a coach. Thank you, God. In June of this year (2018) I began training for my very first half marathon. Training started out fun and exciting. The same routes I used to have trouble walking, were now being knocked out with a runner’s gate. I began to pick up mile after mile in my distance records. A busy season hit and my training took to the back burner. Getting into the training habit again sank lower and lower on my priorities. Laziness won battle after battle. Then time caught up. There was no way I would be able to run the entire 13.1 miles. I wanted to throw in the towel and try again for spring. I had the perfect excuse with winter weather on its way the same day as the race. I was tempted to use it and began to set myself up to do so. Yet the week leading up to it, there was God’s constant thoughts preparing myself just in case I found myself at the race. The ways I ate, refraining from certain foods and drinks, and gaining enough sleep to be well rested. It all came down to the morning of the race. I popped up that morning still not sure of my decision. But He made it clear. Even though I had messed up. Even though I had failed to prepare, I needed to show up. Show up to watch how He works all things for my good (Romans 8:28).
So I did just that. I met my friends at the starting line, though I fell behind them within seconds into the race. Miles one through five were incredible; a personal record I was proud of. The next few miles were on again off again with running. Mile ten came around and the fatigue and soreness set in. A few times, my mind drifted to ways I could quit. But there was no way out this time and I had no clue where I was. Such a blessing not to have an easy out. My strength completely relied on God. I leaned on Him to push me through the entire race, but I know those last few miles would not have been possible without Him. Seeing the giant finish line marker on the horizon brought a mix of emotions. I realized I was one of the last participants left and everyone had started packing up, yet with or without witnesses I had completed it! Cheers started from a small group on the sidelines. It was one of my best friends and her family who had come to support the whole group and didn’t budge until the last of us had made it across the line. The friend with her little baby bump even jogged it in with me. That dedicated encouragement is unforgettable.
Though I felt the repercussions of failing to put in the training that was needed, God did not let me fail because I showed up. He was with me the whole time. It is the same in life. These are not our battles to win. They are His victories, all in His glory. Our part is to hand it over to Him and show up. Show up to training, show up to hard situations, show up to watch Him do what only He can do. It feels insane sometimes that once you see how He works, you hunger to take on even harder challenges. Instead of running this half marathon and laying that goal to rest, it has sparked my determination to do it again and to do it better. Even go beyond to take on a full marathon. I cannot do it without Him, but with Him I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I just have to show up.