When an Achiever Becomes a Believer
Here is a picture of two very different half marathon finishes.
The first is of me six years ago and the second is last week. The Bible often refers to life as a race, and I thank God for how He transforms us along the journey and loves us every step of the way. Three kids and six years later, my race looks very different now…and so does my face! Because somewhere along life’s road, this achiever has been transformed into a believer. I am not afraid of my weaknesses anymore; they have been overcome by Grace!
One difference in these finishes is the extra 18 minutes it took to complete 13 miles. You could say I am a weaker runner now. But on this journey, God has shown me a different kind of strength. When I look at the first picture, I am so proud of her ability! When I look at the second, I am in awe of His ability to overcome. I see new things. I see:
Failure in my first race was going slower than a 10-minute mile. And sure enough, I beat it! But, as soon as I started training this time around, I realized my body could not run at that pace any more. So I had to redefine failure as allowing my expectations to drive me to quit. Releasing them set me free! Pride can so often shut us down from stepping into the abundant life. There was peace in embracing where I actually was instead of where I thought I should be. Weakness opens the door for His power to be made perfect. This mama can’t run fast in anything right now, but if I am willing to be humble, I can go to distance.
These pictures were supposed to be of the same race. I signed up to run in Nashville again but it didn’t work out with the kids. So I had to switch to a race in my own town three weeks earlier. This cut three weeks off training plus I caught the stomach bug and never-ending cough from my kids. The fight was not just to the finish line, but to the start. Six years of raising little ones has taught me to adjust and roll with curve balls. I do not have this mastered, but am learning I am not in control. Rather than quitting when things don’t go as planned, I am learning the strength of embracing the new plan and showing up for it just the same.
There was no training without teamwork. Unlike before, each time I went for a long run, it took teamwork from my husband and readjusting our family’s day. And rather than running the race too like originally planned, Will sat this one out to watch the kids. I am so thankful for my teammate in life!
I am also thankful for my friend Katie, who runs alongside me in ministry and motherhood, and showed up to run this race with me! We are not meant to run alone. God gives us the gift of co-laborers and encouragers to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves. And there was a moment in this race when I couldn’t carry myself. I hit a wall at mile ten and the gray road and sky started to blur together into what looked like a static tv channel. My legs felt cold and I wondered if I might collapse on the side of road. I tried to fight it, but knew I was shutting down.
And somewhere along life’s journey, I hit that wall too and came to an end of myself. The entanglement of my sin and flesh brought me to a place where I could not go on. I needed help. So on the run, I started praying through that fuzzy gray. Lord, help me. Please just help me see. And there in front of me was this sign “Church.”
It was not just any church; it was THE church where I came to Christ five years ago through a Bible study on Freedom. Seeing it made me know I was going to be okay and that this was a turning point.
The church is not just a building; it is God’s people. And right there in that moment was Katie. I told her I needed help and asked her to lead me. She reminded me to eat some jelly beans :), and that sunshiny shirt and ponytail bouncing to the worship music she was singing out loud pulled me through until I could see again! I am so thankful for all of God’s people who have helped me see and find my way.
This race was a reminder that we don’t have to be fully trained to go the distance; we just have to have the courage to show up. A special part of the run was passing by Hudson Alpha where Will works and was called out of the corporate world to be a part of an entrepreneurial enterprise. It was a leap of faith that the unknown would be better than the known. I am thankful for the risks we’ve taken along the journey, especially the ones for God. The achiever fears failure; the believer fears not doing the hard thing in light of the failure that has been overcome.
The Nashville race had a band at every mile, which was awesome! The ever-changing music encouraged me. There were no bands on this race; the soundtrack came from the never-changing Truth I played to myself.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame..” Romans 5:3
This race was different because of who I would see at the finish line.
There was nothing like hearing Will with these little voices cheering “Go Mommy!” at the end. While giving birth to them has made me slower, knowing I would see their faces pushed me to the finish. And embracing them reminded me that at the end of my race, their footprints will extend generations beyond my time here. And that’s how it is in this race of life. When we believe in Jesus, it’s different because of who we will see at the finish line. We may look weaker by the world’s standards, but the life He births in us is a gift that will extend beyond our time. And knowing the One we’ll embrace at the finish makes it worth the fight.
I treasure these race pictures and the amazing love God has for us every step of the way. He is writing a story in each of our lives, and lets us in on the best secret…no matter what we achieve, we’re made perfect when we believe. And that’s worth smiling for!