It’s day three of my gratitude posting. I decided to use this as day three, because I’m really super grateful for the way this cross-country season happened. And yes, all of the gratitude posts will be this spontaneous. 🙂
I’ve never been an athletic person. Ever. All my life I’ve thought of myself as “awkward”, “uncoordinated”, etc., so I never would have seen myself doing a sport. But this year, cross-country changed all that.
It was this summer when my friend, Lauren told me about a club of sorts she ran with on Monday nights. She mentioned it to me with words like, “you should come!”, and I actually thought about it. The reason I wanted to go was never because I wanted to run or join a cross-country team, but because I wanted to spend time with Lauren, who I hardly ever got to see.
The afternoon before the evening I’d committed to going to Running Club, I was really, really nervous. Thoughts were running through my head, like I have seriously never even run in my life! Why am I doing this?! I sat on the couch and plucked sad songs out on my dad’s guitar,
mourning thinking about how stupid I was going to look in front of all these strangers and how I was going to go anyway.
I showed up with my sis (best moral support ever!) that foggy, rainy night in yoga pants and my mom’s running shoes. Everyone there seemed to know and like each other, and I felt like I might be able to fit into this crowd . . . that is, if I survived the first run. I didn’t feel like I would after the exhausting 15-minute warmup run with Lauren, because afterwards my head was burning and my face seemed like it was as red as a strawberry. Everything hurt. Aside from that, however, I was pretty in favor of this running club thing.
The next day, I couldn’t sit down without cringing, I was so sore. Lesson #1 running has taught me: pain is rough, but you’re gonna experience it, so get used to it and push through it.
Even though this was not normal for me, I found myself coming back and continuing this running thing. Again, it wasn’t because I enjoyed running in the least, but because I enjoyed Lauren’s company on runs where she would talk normally (it was easy for her *winks*) and I would listen as best I could, stopping every three minutes to try and get my breathing under control. 😛 My sister, two brothers, and my dad came back with us. I look back and see the Lord’s complete knowledge of me and my family then in every moment – if Laur had invited me to come to any other sports club but running/cross-country, it would have been a flat “no”, not only from me, but from my parents. My dad ran and coached cross-country and track for a long time, and he happened to know the coach on Laur’s team! What?!
Also, God was working in our circumstances by ordering our time frame so perfectly to grow me and bless me. Earlier that spring, my sister and I were presented with a missions trip opportunity to take place in the first weeks of July. It would have been a very important trip, requiring lots of preparation. We felt God was leading us to do this, though, so we decided to go. However, the opportunity fell through for us, due to safety issues. I had no idea why God had even brought the opportunity to us only to let it fall through, but I had peace about it and wasn’t concerned at the time. I now see a little bit of what God was trying to show me: had we gone on that missions trip, we never would have gone to that first Running Club. We probably never would have followed through for an entire season. I still don’t know why God brought the opportunity before us, but I trust that He wanted to show us His perfect will in this.
We came back for another couple of weeks, then there was a week when I would be gone at summer camp. Before I left, I had a rough moment with my dad because I didn’t have the drive to push myself and do my best that’s essential to a runner. I was frustrated with myself because I didn’t think I would ever develop that or succeed.
Off I went to camp,
very slightly angry at my dad and at myself. God, in His wisdom, brought me to a summer camp themed “the Amazing Race”, based off of Hebrews 12:1-13. This is one of those “big-deal” passages of Scripture about endurance & suffering, two of the hardest subjects in the world.
The week went by, and I kept realizing that though running really hurt right now, it would pay off later, and that was a blessing I couldn’t have seen coming. That was just the beginning, because at that point I was only two weeks into running!
We joined the cross-country team. The only thing my dad (who was no longer an object of my wrath haha) asked of us was that we finish the season without quitting. Two weeks into practices, we did a mile time trial (seeing how fast you can run a mile). After running it, I was really physically hurting, and Lauren told me, “races (5k’s) are worse”. siggghhh. Another lesson in persevering even when it hurts!
The first race rolled around. I could barely eat, I was so nervous. The time came to go to the starting line, and all I wanted to do was run off the field and bawl, staying safely on the sidelines so I didn’t have to endure this agony. Turns out, I didn’t do that, and it was way worth it. Racing turned out to be really fun! I love the feeling of running fast, even though it hurts, and crossing the finish line with that complete confidence that I did my best today. I gave Jesus and my team my all.
My running partners, Megan & Hannah, were huge encouragers to me as we ran practices together, raced together (in the bitter cold!), PR’d (personal record, got a new best) together, etc. They were complete lifesavers for me! Thank you so much, sweet sisters!
The lessons I’ve learned from this season are endless. A big one was learning how to be real with myself and with my teammates. I’m not perfect, and so sometimes I’m going to take a race off. Sometimes I’m going to sob at night, thinking my best is not good enough before I remember Whose I am. I love cross-country and feeling like a success in my own eyes, but the main goal I want to keep in mind while running is that I’m here to glorify God. If my best is not perfect, that’s okay. I just want to serve Him with a whole heart. Running is really about a mindset, and for me, I had to learn how to put my races in the Lord’s hands. My coach was huge in teaching me this, and I’m not going to forget it or stop learning it anytime soon.
Photo captions, starting with the top left:
- Group huddle before our last meet. Photo by Mr. Moll.
- Well, doesn’t this pack look legit? This is us at our last meet! We were together for pretty much the whole first mile! Ha but my face though. Thank goodness the photo is pretty little so you can’t see real well. Photo by Mr. Moll.
- Megan and I running a really cold race! Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
- (bottom right) I love these girls so much! My devotional group. Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
- All of us with our Coach. My face is hilarious, so I grant you permission to laugh. Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
- An impromptu group pic by Mr. Stanhope.
So, I guess you could say I’m a little depressed that the season is already over, but I wouldn’t go back and change anything for the world. God has a plan, and He worked it out completely for His glory and my good. I remember writing here at the beginning of the summer,
“To admit that I am His and not my own is so hard, because not only does He thwart the plans and the kingdoms of others, but He thwarts the plans and the kingdom of me. He tears down my walls, my expectations, my comfort zone, my heart’s desires, and my will, all so that I might be more like Christ. It is hard. So this summer, my plans might get a little messed up, but you know what? I’m okay with knowing they will be.
Every time my plans have ever been messed with, glory has been given to God. It’s hard, but I will trust Him. May your summer be the best yet, and all glory be to God!”
He has truly messed with my plans, but they’re the most beautiful mess ever. For the team and for the Lord.