In the spirit of the recent Rio games I must say that I really enjoyed the summer Olympics. I mean, how could you not? Now don’t get me wrong, I like a triple salchow as much as the next 30-something pretend figure skater, but there is something about the summer Olympics that I really love! The gymnastics, the diving and of course the running. Hearing the sound of the starter gun makes me want to sneak down to the basement, put on my varsity jacket and silently cheer around the living room as Jonah sleeps on the couch. I don’t know about any other runner/former runner, but watching those girls and guys get into their starting blocks brings back the nostalgic feeling of needing to use the bathroom, throw up and take a nap all at the same time.
I vividly remember the first week of track practice always being the most humorous. Track isn’t something you have to “try out” for. You just show up and whoever is brave or crazy enough to stick it out makes the team. You would always start with a gymnasium of a hundred kids … And four days later you’d have 20. Running is not for the faint of heart!
When I was in junior high I remember my coach at the time was this spunky 20 something-year-old woman. She was short and fiery, kinda like someone else I know … She would yell at you all the way around the track and jump up and down at the finish line when you crossed. We were at the age where the coaches would collaborate and try us at different distances. Unfortunately for me, I was born with zero foot speed, so the 100 and 200 quickly passed me by, leaving only the longer sprints and distances to try. I remember the first time my coaches timed me in the 400. Personally I feel that the 400 should be renamed the “race of death”. Seriously … It’s not short enough to be a dead sprint, but not long enough for a real pace, it’s square in the middle. The objective of the 400 is to run as fast and hard as you can without dying 300 meters in. It’s a calculated race that you’ll only know if you’ve done it right as you turn the corner into your final 100. I remember coming down the final stretch of rubbery track and my coach staring at me with her head tilted sideways. I crossed the finish line certain that I was taking in my final breaths of life. Struggling to regain composure I walked over to her. She looked at me and said, “it’s the craziest thing. You hit that last stretch and it’s just like your legs grew.” Now at 5’1 that’s definitely a compliment and while I was happy i’d done a good job, I was also nervous knowing id just adopted the hardest race as my own.
In my time running I really grew to love it. I had a strategy that I had worked out in my head and my goal was always to execute just right. I remember specifically one meet where I was the only runner from our school running the 400. Five other girls from the same school joined me at the starting line. They laughed out loud as they walked by me and jokingly said, “good luck”. One thing I’m working on in my character is how I react when I feel backed into a corner. At that moment I felt an instant fire rise up. I wasn’t going to let them get the final laugh. We lined up and when that gun went off I fired out as quick as I could. I just kept thinking, “don’t let anyone pass you”. I pushed myself as hard as I could until I reached the finish line. As I crossed I realized that I had beat every one of those girls, and not by a little. That was something running always gave me, the feeling of exhilaration knowing that as hard as it was to run, that I could finish, and finish well.
Watching the recent Olympics I was reminded of how easy it is as someone in the stands to scream as the runners come down the final stretch,” Run faster! You’re almost there!” It made me think of my healing as of late. I’ve sat and believed and waited for 8 months for something to move … And now it has. It’s like turning the corner and seeing the finish line. It’s the feeling of “this is almost over” and “why is that line so far away” all at the same time. I feel so dependent on grace right now. I know that in different seasons of my life grace has manifested itself in different ways. For example, when my dad passed away grace became this strong man that stood up on the inside of me to do the things that I couldn’t find strength to do on my own. I feel like during this season grace has been a set of big, wide open arms. I’ve been able to climb up in them and ride out the waves of life. While at the beginning of a race it’s true you have the most breath and the furthest to go. At the end you have the least energy so shorter distances can seem just as long. And right now as I look down the stretch trying to see the line closer rather than further, I hear a voice say, “you’re growing”.
I’m incredibly encouraged and entirely and completely dependent on the Father right now. You think about the journeys you see people go on. For the most part you something or someone start off in pieces and end more together. Like a marriage starts off with two people and ends with one flesh, or when working out where someone transforms their body from something weak to strong. I feel strangely the opposite happening the further down this path I go. I feel like if anything I started off much more together than I’m ending up … And it’s not a bad thing. I feel like In life people start off with soft hearts as children and end up with hard hearts as adults, my desire more than before is to have a soft heart. Not to let anything I’ve experienced in the flesh detract from the awesome work I know God is doing in my body and character. I don’t say that to say, look at me, I’m so awesome. I’m just being honest in saying this is the path I’m on and I HOPE that’s who I become.
Of course I’ll consider my victory full when I can take some long awaited family photos and mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. But until then I”ll keep believing Gods promises of health in my body and keep making crazy faces in the mirror as I run continuously through my facial exercises. Hopefully the next time I write I’ll be at 75 meters, or 50, or across the line. Keep praying for me because I need it, and just know that as I think of you I do the same.