“I’m going to be a runner,” I told my husband, and we both tried to keep a straight face.
I had a hate-hate relationship with running for years. Once, I even told my super-athletic college roommate, who always used to convince me to jog with her, that I would never run ever again—running just felt impossible for me. I also tend to dive into new things head first and burn out fast. But this time was different.
Several months ago, my husband started running, getting in shape, and feeling accomplished. I was several months postpartum and just honestly felt uncomfortable in my body and discouraged mentally. I felt inspired.
I began running with a stroller as I chased my older kids on their bikes, one mile or so at a time (and stopping to walk often). One mile led to two, then three; with every run, my resilience grew. I’ve run further distances than I thought I ever would, and hills that used to make me stop and walk no longer slow me down. I’ve felt so good lately that I wonder why it took me so long to really give running a good shot.
Do you ever set too many limitations on yourself? I’ve ruled myself out so many times in running, in career pursuits, in motherhood, in friendships. I’ve given up on taking leaps of faith and fighting to conquer sins. I need to be better and never will be. I “try” a few times and quit fast.
But there are moments when God doesn’t let us stay stuck and stagnant. Thank God for His wisdom, patience, and grace in walking alongside us as our comfort zones expand! He uses those moments to connect with us, come through for us, and make His Word all the more tangible for us.
Hebrews 12:1-3 is one Bible passage for me that feels relatable in a new way. Therefore, since such a great cloud of witnesses surrounds us, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
With Jesus’s example and God’s help, we can learn how to push through the limits we put on ourselves. Empowered by God, we can stand confidently in what He’s asked us to do, even if it’s new, challenging, or unexpected. Here are some ways to go after that:
Eliminate excuses and the things that drag us down, including sin.
One of my biggest hurdles in running has been simply staying consistent and doing the work when everything in me just wants to quit. This applies to so many other areas, too. We find every excuse to keep us from fully engaging in the spiritual battle, and the Enemy loves for us to become inconsistent and ambivalent.
Sometimes, we just must get out of our own way. Take the spiritual battle seriously by intentionally holding to practices that keep you covered in the Armor of God: prayer, Bible study, gratitude, and confession. Be extreme about removing sin from your life.
Fix our eyes on Jesus.
If I’m obsessing over how others are running around me, constantly comparing myself to how fast or far they run or their gear or any number of things—I’ll quickly go off course or end up completely discouraged.
Our God created us with intention and purpose, living out a calling that glorifies Him. He is our example. He is the one we want to be more like.
For the joy set before us.
There are many, many things I would rather do than run. Especially sleep. Running still isn’t fun for me—it’s hard physically, but even more so mentally, when my head is telling me I can’t take one more step.
So why do it? Because I know everything that comes out of me running, I feel great physically, have a sense of accomplishment, love setting new records for myself, and get a mental health boost as well. It may be hard now, but good things are coming.
Jesus set an example for us in this, too. The cross is an entirely different kind of suffering than running, but the principle remains the same: we make it through the difficult things because we know there is something greater to come. We can trust that God can even use the pain for good.
There are things in this world that tire us out much more than going for a run. This season has been a particularly wearying one for me and those close to me–strains on families, careers, callings, homes. Sometimes, it’s just life being difficult; sometimes, people make life difficult for each other.
Jesus came to earth to experience it like we do–every bit of it. The pain and heartache, as well as the joy and love. He is our inspiration when it comes to endurance, continuing in His purpose even when He was rejected, abused, and betrayed.
Why is it all worth it? Because Jesus is the one who both initiates and completes our faith. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Him. We can trust Him as we continue in our faith.
How about you? How is your race going? Where are opportunities for you to endure and seek the joy ahead? How does Jesus inspire you to keep going? What will you eliminate on the way?