I started running, again. Well, not so fast. The path hasn’t been all that smooth, really. Inspired by the goal of providing clean water for communities in Africa, and captivated by my friend Hanju’s enthusiasm, I decided I was going to run that half marathon! Brimming with good intentions, but suffering from a severe lack of experience, I bought cute running shoes and set out to “do this thing!”
It took no time at all for biomechanical failures to check my enthusiasm. What was I thinking!?? I started out too fast and found myself taking a few weeks off to reconcile with my inflamed Achilles tendon. Next, PT revealed an irritated IT band, weak glutes and a non-existent core. Thanks for sharing! With all the time lost for recovery, the World Vision race came and went without me. Frustrated, and not a little annoyed, I considered throwing in the towel on ever being able to run. It was altogether too much work!
At the beginning it was easy to give intellectual ascent to the fact it was a 13 mile run I was working toward, but my attitude basically laid bare my expectation to succeed without effort, that this goal could be achieved with no setbacks. Really?!
Short cuts don’t exist in training for a 13 mile run, just like they don’t in faith. So much is similar about these journeys. More times than I care to admit, I’ve started out strong with great intentions only to be thrown a curve ball, not once, but repeatedly. External trials might slip me up, or it could be my own flesh that sends me on a detour. Either way, my surprise at facing struggles reveals that I am forgetting a few fundamental truths. First, although grace saved me, I am still “being perfected.” Salvation was instant, sanctification won’t end until I am ushered into my final Home. Secondly, like it or not, I was reborn into war. As a follower of Christ and bearer of His Light, I am also at battle with Satan and the powers of darkness who avidly seek my demise and work tirelessly to break my communion with the Creator.
If this is true (and it is), then victory can often be defined as simply not giving up. Doggedly hanging on to faith even when it seems the odds are stacked impossibly against us. Like in Job’s case, Satan wants us to curse our Creator when times get tough, and the angels hold their breath in wonder when, instead, we stand firm. So, I choose not to give up.
Armed with this reminder and challenged to push through the pain, I renewed my commitment to run. I did the exercises required to find my core and relieve my IT band. I went to the podiatrist and expert running consultants to be fitted with shoes possessing the right size “toe box.” Who knew one of my feet is fatter than the other?
Now, equipped with a somewhat stable core, more realistic expectations, shoes that have ample “space for expansion” (but one size above what could be considered “cute”), I am finally feeling like I can “do this thing.” However, I won’t be sprinting. I plan to respect my body and its limitations, running at a sustainable pace, even if it takes a year to train and means walking some of the way. I want to learn from the past, press toward the goal, and run with endurance the race set before me, understanding that in some races, finishing well is more important than finishing fast.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:12-14