I was going to write about pacing today. I had an awesome run yesterday, this was a short training week, so I used yesterday’s run to push myself hard. It was epiphanic and I will share it with you, just at a later time. I saw a movie today that brought perspective to the front and center of my thoughts and I’ve learned that I have to get those thoughts down or they’ll make my head explode. Well, it seems like that, anyway.
I went to see the movie “Soul Surfer” today. It’s based on the true story of a young woman named Bethany Hamilton who was an aspiring professional surfer. I won’t go into all the details of the movie (I highly encourage you to see it yourself), but Bethany loses her arm in a shark attack and has to rethink her entire future. There were many things about this movie that make it an absolute must see, the most important of which is that it beautifully shares the story of Bethany’s faith in Jesus Christ and how that faith doesn’t just get her through the most devastating thing of her life, but turns it into an inspiration for the entire world to see. And, she gives God the credit. Amazing.
One of the lessons her youth Bible Study leader presented to her (and the other youth of her fellowship) before the accident was on perspective. She tried to make them see that when we are too close to something, sometimes we have to step back and see the big picture in order to understand how God intends to use that situation for His Glory. Not an easy lesson for an adult class, much less a group of young people who can only see what is right in front of them. After Bethany lost her arm, she struggled with understanding how that could be God’s will for her life. Then she went to Thailand on a mission trip. It had just been devastated by a tsunami and she met people whose entire families had been swept away before their eyes. Children who had lost parents, mothers whose children were taken from their arms. She got a new perspective and it gave her the determination she needed to get back on her surfboard and win.
In January of last year, I ran my first half marathon. I was not an athlete growing up. I was the bookworm, the nerd. Running came to my life as an adult, when God brought it to me to heal some deep wounds and teach me some important lessons. So, a half marathon was a big deal to me. I carefully selected one that I thought would offer the best conditions, be nearby, and give me the best race experience I could get. I chose the Mississippi Blues Half marathon in Jackson. Being a lifetime Mississippi native, I know that we have pretty moderate temperatures in January, usually low 40’s to upper 60’s. The morning of the race dawned at 15 degrees. The wind chill was 10 degrees. I didn’t sleep much the night before, worrying about how/if I would be able to deal with not just the distance, but the intense cold. When we got up, I looked at my husband and told him I didn’t think I could do it. He encouraged me to get dressed and just go to the starting line, I had worked too hard to completely give up. I begrudgingly dressed, whining loud and long the entire time. All the way to the race, I moaned and groaned about the unfairness of my first race being ruined by the cold. I was truly obnoxious, but my husband listened without a word. We found a parking place and I flounced out of the car and walked to the back to get my things. As I reached the rear of the car, a wheelchair athlete rolled past me, talking excitedly about the upcoming event to his partner. Perspective. I looked at Gary, who wisely remained silent, and said, “Okay, I’ll stop whining now.” I took my place among the other equally cold, but very excited racers and ran that half marathon in the frigid cold. It started snowing on mile 7. The wheelchair athlete passed me on mile 9. It wasn’t pretty, but I finished my first long distance race intact and grateful.
People say to me all the time, “I wish I could run.” My response to them seldom varies. If I can, they can. I’m not a great athlete. I’m not even a particularly good one. I’m slow and grouchy in the mornings, but I know if I don’t run then, that it won’t get done. It’s not discipline that makes me do it, it’s perspective. I run because I can. Because there are many who really can’t run who want to. I always think of that wheelchair athlete in Jackson when I lose faith in the journey. Now, when I run, I’ll think of Bethany Hamilton.