I love this picture! I feel happy just looking at it. Here we are in Wisconsin at the Door County Half Marathon and 5K just a week ago. I am in the front row in the pick jacket with the hat with the braids hanging down. You would never know how cold it is because everyone has their jackets off to display our Center for Christian Life t- shirts from our race in December. I however, was freezing my buns off and wasn’t about to take off my jacket!
When I think about how much I love being a part of this group, it is hard for me to believe how resistant I was to joining. Friends kept at me to come but it took me several years to even consider the idea. I historically have thought of myself as someone who has a lot of people in my life. I have been in many groups over the years – growth groups and a Mom’s group. I have led groups, been in Bible study groups, church groups, and school groups. This group was different. I was scared to join this group. Running brings up a lot for me – insecurities, negative voices and middle school gym class baggage.
I ran my first half marathon about 8 years ago. I totally trained alone. I didn’t even plan on running it with anyone. Thankfully I ran into a woman I knew moments before the race started. Agreeing we would go ahead if one of us felt stronger, I ran the last 3 miles by myself. Faced with the prospect of joining a running group meant I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable. What if I couldn’t keep up? What if I was the last one running way behind? When running alone, I was able to avoid these questions. I would need to be open to facing my limiting voices and pushing through the fear to be with others in an area that I did not feel strong. I also needed to be willing to be last, if that was where I was. My value and worth is not in how fast or strong I am. What matters is that I am in the race to learn, grow and challenge myself to dig deeper.
Running is a perfect metaphor for how I live in my life. I am choosing to believe I am able to do more than I think I can. Rather than finding I can’t keep up with the other women, I have found that I can keep up with most of the women. Running with others helps me run faster than when I run alone. When I am slower, I can ask for others to run with me. Much to my surprise, I have discovered that others who are faster than me actually want to run with me, just to be with me. I am stronger than I think I am. When those voices are yelling at me, “You are weak. You can’t do it!” I am learning that with others encouraging me, I can press on to do above and beyond what I think I can. When those voices are shouting, “Quit! Your knee hurts. Your back aches!” or “You are not as young as you use to be!” I am learning to tell the difference between pain where I need to stop and listen to my body and pain that I need to feel and keep going because that is the pain that will stretch and grow me.
Here is a picture of me at the 6-mile marker. I am elated! You would never know by the look on my face that my knee and back are hurting. The pain is so much sweeter when I have others standing on the sidelines cheering me on, silencing those inner voices that tell me that I am alone. You would never know that a mile later I would be crying. The good kind of crying – grateful for my life, my family and the gift to run and push through my limiting voices.
I am so thankful that I pushed through my resistance and decided to become a part of this community. A community that encourages and supports each other to grow and become stronger, to fight through limiting beliefs and become more than you ever thought you could be. Running is indeed a great metaphor for my life. I need relationships that are life giving. I need to have others who are for me, on the sidelines cheering, because with others I can accomplish so much more than I think I can. With others, I can live the abundant life that I desire and was meant to live.
Grace and Peace,