On Being Brave
I ran my first ever 5K this past weekend.
If you know me even a little, you know how laughable this is. Running for running’s sake has always seemed like the most ridiculous thing ever. Running the length of a soccer field over and over again while kicking a black and white ball? That makes sense to me. Running hard after a puck with a stick? Absolutely. Running an obstacle course through a Florida jungle? That has my name written all over it.
But running, just to run? No, thank you.
Until this past summer, when my long time friend asked me if I would run a 5K with her at the place where we met in our teens. We served as counselors together at Twin Pines Camp in the heart of the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania. Twin Pines was the only place where I have willingly gotten up early to run- this willingness was the result of a love for my campers that superseded my love for sleep and my strong feelings against running.
Turns out I have a new love that supersedes the feelings of abhorrence to running. This love is found in four little ones who watch me every day, wondering what it means to live life to the full. I want my precious children to love Jesus with all their hearts, to find their purpose and satisfaction in this life as they earnestly hope and long for the next, and I want them to live brave.
But how will they do this if their mama is living small? How will they want to know Jesus if they don’t see me trusting him with my life? How will they long for heaven if they don’t first see the longing in me? And how will they step out in courage if their mama always plays it safe, never trying the things that scare her?
The answer to that is they might. They might do all of these things, because God is perfectly capable of working in their hearts despite the failures and mistakes of their mama (and this is a truth I cling to!). But that is not how I want this to play out- my kids living life to the full in spite of me. No. I want them to run hard after Jesus and live an abundant life in part because that is all they know. It is all they have seen demonstrated for them.
I chose my one word for 2014 for this very reason. Brave. I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines of my life, letting life happen to me. I want to step out in faith, seeking the difficulties and the challenges. I want my roots to grow down deep into him, and my life to be built on him (Jesus!). Then my faith will grow strong in the truth I was taught and I will overflow with thankfulness (from Col. 2:7).
What I have discovered is that as my roots grow deep, I have the strength to pursue the challenges that are presented to me.
Running is a challenge, but when my friend asked me to run with her, I knew that my answer would be yes. Of course. You don’t seek to be brave and expect that life will stay the same- calm and peaceful and secure. Nope. Seeking brave opens the door to endless opportunities to be pushed beyond what you believe you are capable of doing.
And so, I started running. And I didn’t like it and it was painful and there were moments when I thought I would die. Then one day, I ran with a family friend. He said something to me (after we had been running for a quarter mile and I could. not. take. one. more. step.) that was profound. It was THE thing that pushed me past my mental road block that I had constructed over years of believing that I hated running, I couldn’t do it and why would I ever WANT to do it?
Becky, pardon me for saying this, but you can run farther than you think you can.
It became my mantra- I can run farther than I think I can. I started to believe it. The first time I ran 17 minutes straight, I almost fell over. Not from exhaustion, but from incredulity.
I started to take pictures while I was running- my “rewards” for running. What I discovered was that God was faithful in providing me with beautiful reminders of his presence, his strength that was at work in me in my very real weakness.
And along the way, I discovered that being brave is not about how you compare to others and their ideas of brave. Being brave is about finding those areas where you need to be stretched and then allowing God to stretch you.
The day came for my race and it was cold and rainy. But I knew I was ready. After all, I can run farther than I think I can. It felt a bit surreal, to be at a place that brought back so many memories for me, to be running with my friend who has been with me through all of the ups and downs of life, to see my kids and my husband cheering me on.
We started running and this verse came to mind…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
We wound our way around the pond, through mountainside (one of my favorite spots to counsel!), past the shale pit (so thankful we didn’t have to run up THAT hill!!!), and into the corral.
I felt good and it hit me- how was this possible? How could I be enjoying running?!!!
We got to the first hill and I knew I needed to keep running. No matter what. And so, I ran through most of the pathways on my own. But the thing about being brave when you trust in God is that you are never alone. His promise is to be with us always.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary. And his understanding, no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary; young men stumble and fall. 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.
I ran until the last hill and it was my undoing. You can run farther than you think you can, was running through my mind, but I just couldn’t make it up that hill. Through the trees, I could see my kids, waiting for me, holding signs, cheering me on. And I made it to the top. My boy started walking with me and then ran with me to the finish line. It was exhilarating and glorious.
I can run farther than I think I can. This is truth. And this is how I want to live my life. To the full. Abundantly. Unabashedly. Victoriously. Brave.
I ran my first ever 5K this past weekend. I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last.
Special thanks to Capra Strategy for sponsoring my race. Amazing people. Looking to take your business to another level? They are the ones who can take you there!
And Happy 50th anniversary to my beloved Twin Pines Camp– a place that continues to bless my life, the life of my family and the lives of countless others who have fallen more in love with Jesus as a result of this ministry. I can’t think of a better place to have run my first 5K!