Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Running with Purpose: Finding God on the Beaten Path

I run. Well, we all run at one point.  We run to the grocery story, we run to our classes we just can’t seem to wake up for on time, and we run away from things when we’re scared (especially during a good game of tag).  But I run for a living.  Running is not a particularly popular way of life; though it suffers from fads and potential takers, it’s rarely as loved as it should be.  But I run.  And I love it.  I love that moment when my Nikes touch the concrete, and it’s as if all is right in the world.  Like I can do anything as long as I keep running.

Running Out of Options
Since I started cross-country for SFA, my running hasn’t exactly gone as planned.  I haven’t seen the improvement I want or should be having. My training last fall especially seemed to be going backward instead of forward, and nothing was right.  A lot of times, I was close to up and quitting.  I kept telling myself just to hang on a little longer, that it would get better. I told myself to keep working, to keep trying, but when my first indoor meet came in January, it wasn’t any better. I ran worse than I had the year before, and I didn’t get another chance to race again that season. I was upset and so tired of working for, what seemed like, nothing.
Finally, it got to the point where I was just sick of being upset and stressed. So, I turned to prayer. I prayed about what I should do: quitting the SFA team or sticking it out. And I did what all of us do (again, at one point in our lives): I asked God to send me a sign, preferably one that was clear - ha. I told myself I would keep trying my hardest, and if my workouts didn’t start showing even a slight improvement in the next month, then I would consider not running anymore.

Fighting the Good Fight
On one of the days following, a teammate and I were cooling down after a workout, and I ended up telling her about my situation.  She responded with something I completely forgot (believe it or not), but I know its impact was huge.  I knew God was telling me to keep trying for just a little bit longer.  Sign received.
My running started improving bit by bit each day, as did my praying. Each workout was a little better than the last, and for once, I was excited with what my body could do. My outdoor track season didn’t end exactly the way I wanted it to, but I was blessed with one great race, where I ran a personal record faster than I ever thought I could. Things don’t always come easy, RUNNING doesn’t ever come easy, but trials are a part of life, and in the end, it will be worth it.

Learning the ABC’s of Faith
 I’ve wondered a lot why God didn’t just make things get better right away. I’ve realized that if He had, I wouldn’t have learned that His timing is perfect. I wouldn’t have learned to trust Him. In Romans 5: 3-4, Paul tells us we should rejoice during hard times and troubles; that “we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” I couldn’t just leave everything up to God. He gave me the talent of running and blessed me with the opportunity to be on the team at SFA, but it is my responsibility to use all He has given and glorify Him with what I do.  As long as I trust in God, I know I can trust myself.
I could have given up.  On running, myself, even God.  But I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.  I learned during hard times to find comfort in God. That in the end everything will be ok. It’s easy to be mad at God when things aren’t going my way. It’s hard to thank Him for everything that is going on in my life, especially the bad things, but that is what I have to do. Everything that has happened in my life has made me who I am and everything happens for a reason, so each day I really try to thank God for everything, good and bad, that helped me get to where I am now. Through all my ups and downs with running, I have learned so much more about myself and grown stronger in my faith.

Why I Run
This summer, I’ve been getting up to run around 6 AM before it gets too hot.  I don’t like the getting up.  I don’t like leaving the warmth of my bed and stepping onto the cold floor.  I think it’s ridiculous that it’s still dark as I brush my teeth while the rest of the world gets to sleep on.  It even takes a few steps into the run sometimes to make the grumbling in my brain cease.  To remind myself why I run.  It isn’t until I feel the light from the sky hit my skin that I remember.  Every morning, I get to watch the sunrise.  I get to see it spill over the rooftops of houses and color the trees into life.  I get to feel it’s first rays before anyone else.  Like it was meant for me all along.  That’s why I run.
I don’t do it to feel better about myself or my body (though it helps).  I don’t do it it because it’s my "me" time.  Or because I feel free.  I don’t do it for the time to think. I don’t do it for the hurt, the good kind, the kind your body thrives on.  I don’t do it because it’s exhilarating, especially on a good run.  I do it because it makes me happy.  I do it because on those days when runs don't feel good at all, God is especially present in the beauty around me: in the birds’ morning songs and the blossom of a flower and the flutter of a butterfly.  Not everyday is going to be easy or the best.  But that’s why He gave us a million beautiful gifts to enjoy, or to take for granted in a lot of my cases.
I have had lots of tough times in running, but I love it – running, not the tough times.  I couldn’t live without it.  I was made to run.  God blessed me with these running legs, so I’ll try my best to glorify Him through it. Yeah, it will suck sometimes, but, as C.S. Lewis says, “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” I know running isn’t for everyone, but it is for me.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will RUN and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Amanda Walters
I have a hard time choosing favorites out of the things I love, but God and the Love He shows me every day is my number one.  I love spending time with my family and friends, and I habitually look on the bright side of life, trying to see the best in everyone.  I believe music, running and laughing give you a good long life, and that books can take you to another world.  I'm an Elementary Education major who can't wait to see what God has planned for my future.

If you would like to contact Amanda, you can email her at: kiwiw_2012@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment