I was with dear friends gearing up for a football game in Chicago, when I got the phone call. It was one of my dearest friends Jessie, and through broken words she told me that several of our Young Life boys had been in a terrible car accident. Two died. One whom I knew very well while serving in Sharon… but who was also one of my dear brother Jeffrey’s closest friends. I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face. I found myself angry at God wondering, why? It’s not fair… Corey was only a senior in high school. So much life before him. So much opportunity for growth and making a difference in his community. Yet in a second, life was taken from him. Two of his dear friends, two young men who have hearts of gold lay in the ICU. Another young man dead as well.
It got me thinking- all this pain and suffering around me. A close one receiving a scary diagnosis, another battling depression, aching hearts and so much uncertainty in this life.
As I stood on the turf of that football field, thankful for sunglasses and a moment to catch my breath, I thought why me? Why has God blessed me with 23 beautiful years of life, and yet called others home to Himself at such young ages? Why have I been blessed with a supportive and loving family? A wonderful education? A healthy body?
If I were being honest, I have been very discouraged this past month. Most know I am training for a marathon, but frankly… training has been hard. Mentally, I’ve given up. Mentally, I’ve been saying I can’t when in fact I can, I’m just choosing not to. And then I get a phone call with some tough news to swallow, and suddenly I am reminded that this life is a gift, and so why I am I taking it for granted?
We had to do a measly nine mile run a few weekends back. I ran two of those miles and quit. Amidst the bad attitude I was having, my sister stopped to talk with me. I told her how I was done. Ready to quit. Ready to forget about this whole marathon.
Praise God for sisters. She stopped me in my tracts. She asked me why I was running this marathon. When I responded with a pouty, I don’t know, she reminded me that this has been a dream of mine for years. She reminded me of the sixteen weeks that I had dedicated to training for this marathon. She reminded me that Christ has given me this opportunity, and therefore I should be aiming to run in such a way that brings Him all the glory, and humbles me in the process.
Then I go to church this past weekend, which provided me with another important reminder. The power of encouragement. I don’t believe it is coincidence when the pastor begins to share a story of the time him and his son ran a marathon, and when they were ready to stop and give up… they ran in such a way as to win the prize, all thanks to strangers encouraging them.
Who am I to say no to this opportunity, when it has been a goal of mine, heavy on my heart for so long now? I came across a quote in my marathon book that really spoke to me:
The moral of my story is that you never know what you can do until you try. If you listen to what others say, you may not try at all. If you listen to your body, you may quit too soon. What your mind believes, your body believes. Your mind is the key.
I would add, with Christ, that is. So why am I running this marathon?
1. As an opportunity to strengthen my faith, since it is thanks to Jesus that I can accomplish something like this in the first place.
2. Because I am healthy and able.
3. For myself, since it has been a personal goal for so long.
4. For my Daddy-O, who has always encouraged me to dream big.
5. For my mother, who points me to Jesus always. Who reminds me that life is a gift, and not to take advantage of our health.
6. For Rach, who always encourages me and points me to truth.
7. For my Sharon kids, who are hurting so much right now. May many come to saving grace because of this horrible incident.
8. For Corey and Evan’s legacy, and Craig and Greg in the hospital.
9. For Kathrin, my Spanish mom, who got me back into running in the first place.
10. For Mel and Daniel, my cousins in Switzerland, who may never have the opportunity to run such a race on this side of glory.
11. For Hide, who is so courageous and strong.
12. For Jeff, and Jessie, and Dani, and Sarah, and all of my other YL leaders who are loving on those kids in Sharon.
13. For my pastors and their families in Spain, who have given up their homes in the USA to share Jesus with Spaniards.
14. For E and T, my two precious boys who I get to nanny each day, who are so excited for me to do this race.
15. For the patients that I will one day (Lord willing) have the privilege of serving in the nursing field; that I can help exemplify a healthy and active lifestyle for them.
16. For all of the sweet moments I’ve had while running these 250 miles in the last 16 weeks. Nothing like you, God, music/audio books, and a never-ending trail to think through the deeper things of life.
17. For the time I’ve gotten to spend outside on the trail, surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery.
18. For the hours I’ve practiced (and in the process, improved) my Spanish while running.
19. For the discipline this training process has taught me. Even amidst my stubbornness at times.
20. For the camaraderie I’ve forged with others due to this new-found sport of mine.
21. For the opportunities I’ve had to smile or encourage a fellow runner on the trail, and vice versa.
22. For the pain and moments of weakness I’ve experienced while running, because they have been opportunities to carry my head high and push through the difficulty.
23. Because this has been a way to unite my family, as my Dad and I do the marathon together, and my mom and sister do the half.
24. Because its brought me to the realization that if I can do this, I can do anything.
25. For the way my friends have supported, encouraged, and never stopped believing in me through this process.
26. For the chance to return to Richmond to run the full marathon, after having done the half-marathon exactly four years ago.
0.2- Because I
will be am a marathoner.
And this is why I run. And this is why I won’t stop running after this race tomorrow.