Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
On Monday morning I opened my inbox to find the subject line, “Boston Marathon Confirmation Of Entry Acceptance” at the top of my messages. Six beautiful words positioned in just the right order. Six words confirming that a goal had been reached: A bucket list item on it’s way to being checked off.
Later in the day I posted to Facebook the news of my excitement about this accomplishment. A simple status update, with a screenshot from my email. I didn’t think about the post much. I didn’t contemplate who it would reach. To me it was news I wanted to share, and that was about it.
By the next morning I had more “likes” and comments on that post than I have had since the birth of my youngest child. Which really caught me off guard and made me wonder what my post said and didn’t say to my audience--an audience I didn’t even really think about being out there in the wide world of the web. I forget so easily that there are more people than I realize observing my life via the portal of my Facebook statuses. And in retrospect, I wish I would have used that little post as a platform to lift up the people in my past and present who ran alongside me in my quest for qualifying for Boston.
My status announcing my acceptance into "the oldest consecutively run marathon and one of the most prestigious road races in the world," did not give credit where credit is due. Partly, because I just didn’t think it mattered because I didn’t know people even knew it was a big deal to get in. Also, because it is hard to do in a couple of sentences. And we all know that those status updates that drag on only get partially read or are bypassed with the swipe of a busy finger.
And isn’t this how life and words go, sometimes? In our haste and thoughtlessness pieces of our powerful testimony of God’s provision and his people’s love in our lives gets lost when we share only blurbs of our stories. Unintentionally, sometimes the few words we use fail to show that even though we run individually, we never run alone. Thus, my accomplishment is not my own, it belongs also to many of you. Admittedly, with both the Boston marathon and the marathon that is my life, none of it could be met with success without God’s touch on my body and people’s investments in my life.
And though there is not space in a blog post to name all to whom this accomplishment belongs, I want to take the time highlight a few who have most closely impacted my running--people to whom this accomplishment also belongs.
This accomplishment belongs to the person who first saw potential in a scrawny 7th grade farm girl running laps on a cinder track. Coach Novak pulled me aside during a track practice during my junior high years and informed me I was capable of a school record in the mile, if I set my mind to it. Mind you, I was the SLOWEST student in the 4th grade mile run competition just a few years prior. I did not see myself as a runner, let alone a competitor. But something in me believed him. And though it took tears and an intense level of perseverance, two years later I set that record. However, without the physical training and confidence training given to me by my coach, I know for a fact I would not have been a successful runner in high school. I would likely not have kept on running through college or gone on to become a cross country coach. And it is doubtful that I would be a runner today.
Another person to which the accomplishment belongs is my husband. Ironically had I not been a runner, it is possible I would not have met and married this amazingly strong and supportive man of God. Some of our first conversations were about training plans for 5Ks. And one of our first “dates” was to run a trail race. Fast forward 13 years, and this man is still the main support in my life, for both running and everything else. He gets as excited about my goals as I do. He has never once discouraged me when I ask to leave on a long run. In fact, during times when life has seemed to busy for keeping up with running, he reminds me I need to run: get out on the road and let all that is built up inside of me sweat out of my pores. Without his presence on the marathon course at which I qualified for Boston, I am certain I would not have crossed that line in time.
The other people (so many more than what are in these photos) to whom this accomplishment belongs are my running buddies, past and present. God, in his sovereignty and grace, has always positioned friends in my life who are runners. In all the places I have lived, I have had running friends: Friends who made running seem like a coffee date, instead of a grueling test of self-motivation. Miles and hours can go by when running with a friend and the legs sometimes don’t even notice (sometimes). These women have not just helped me reach my running goals, they have been my counselors, prayer partners, voices of reason and hope when I was in times of transition and rebuilding physical strength after pregnancies and injuries. As I write this, I can recall specific conversations I have had with friends while running that have altered the choices I have made, the job I am in, the books I read, and my perspective on my life. Without these women I would not be the runner I am today. I would also not be the mom, wife or friend I am either. These women have brought so much balance to my life. Balance that allows me the confidence and parameters to reach toward goals like a BQ time.
Lastly, this accomplishment was not planned by me. I certainly had the choice to work toward being accepted into a "prestigious" 26.2 mile race. I had the choice to put in miles and care for my body enough to keep it healthy and intact. But I have a designer who made me capable and able. I have a designer who set in me a passion for pushing my body’s limits. A designer who gave me legs and lungs that can withstand intense training. A designer who orchestrates my life’s friendships to include runners. A designer who desires for me to experience joy when using the gifts and talents he has given me. What peace there is in this place I find myself today. A place in which I can look up to heaven and say, “Thank you for making me this way. Thank you for providing for my needs. Thank you for all of this. I don’t deserve it. I have done plenty of things to mess up. But you always find ways to bring me back to who you designed me to be. Thank you.”
When you examine all that is around you. The things you have accomplished. The relationships that you have been given. The desires and passions of your heart. I challenge you to consider all who have helped you to get there. How will you let them know that those things that look like your accomplishments are their’s as well? How will you pause today and rest in the peace and assurance that you were made on purpose, for a purpose?
Own it. Live it. Share it. Pass it on.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: