On August 20-21st, 13 co-workers and myself traveled along the Mississippi River from Winona, MN to Minneapolis, MN in a race called the Ragnar Relay. We were divided into two vehicles, taking turns running different legs of the race. The Ragnar took our team about 36 hours from start to finish! Throughout our travels and adventures, I was blessed with the people that surrounded me. For me, whenever I've ran in a race, the people around me have influenced my run. I'm talking about both the runners in the race with me, and also the crowd cheering me on.
1. On my first leg of the run, I and another girl were 'neck-in-neck' with one another. As I looked at her as she passed me the first time, I made speculations about who she was. Tall, skinny, cute hair and running clothes, the latest Ipod. I thought to myself, "yup, she will beat me. she is so much more a runner than i am. she has it made. my body just doesn't naturally move like that." After the second time we passed eachother though, I felt a challenge coming on. I would not let her beat me. I reminded myself that I had trained just as much for this race. I was physically and mentally prepared. Maybe I wasn't super tall or skinny and my hair definitely not cute, but I had determination and motivation. And I realized that was all I needed to beat her. And I did.
Many times in life, we let things roll on by us because we give in to those self-defeating thoughts. We let the world around us determine who we are or what we'll accomplish. It's not about that. When we put time and effort into something that is honoring to the Lord, I believe He wants to bless us.
Just to clarify though, I was very judgemental of this girl. That was wrong of me. But what I was reminded throughout this leg of the race, was that ultimately we all are just numbers in a race. It doesn't really matter what place we come in or how we look at the finish line. What matters is how we run the race...and WHO we are running it for. We have each been given different characteristics, talents and challenges and can use them however we choose to. The question is...will we use them to glorify God? I guess the choice is our own.
2. On the next leg of my race, I met Pete. 60 year old Pete was a great guy. He had ran 40 marathons and was preparing for his next one in October. Pete caught up to me in the beginning of my race, and never left my side. He was clearly taller than me and could run at a faster pace, but he chose not too. As I got to know Pete, I learned that he had been training people to run marathons for 14 years. This summer was his first summer that he wasn't training anyone any more. Pete let me in on the secrets behind marathon training. He also pushed me in that leg of the race. We were running at night too...pitch black. Seriously, very dark. Without Pete at my side, I would have been more scared. However, I felt like Pete was this angel, sent to guide me and protect me during that part of the race. He also pushed me to run at a faster pace. Without Pete I know I would have walked.
I realized that sometimes we are given people into our lives who will keep us going...they will run the race with us...they will encourage our 'marathons'....they will keep us feeling safe when everything around us feels 'pitch black.' I'm so thankful for Pete. I hope that I can be a "Pete" to someone else struggling around me.
3. As we each ran in our 'legs' of the race, the vans would stop to encourage the runners throughout their runs. This was one thing I personally really looked forward to. Whenever I would come around a curve and see my team waiting there to cheer me on, a big smile came over my heart and face. I had people who were in this with me! I had support! They didn't care how fast I was running. In fact they didn't even care if I was running. They were going to support me regardless. They really helped me to stay motivated and encouraged.
So often in this race we run (this race we call life here on earth) we try to run it alone. We find ourselves wondering if we are running on the right path. We find ourselves turning around or vering off into wrong directions. Its only when we have people cheering us on, that we can truly stay motivated to keep our heads in the race. We can stay motivated about running up 'big hills' because we know we have people at the top of the hills ready to cheer us on and keep us going.
My prayer for each person reading this blog is that you have people in your life who are supporting you and encouraging you during 'difficult runs' in life.
If you don't, try starting with Jesus. He has been a great companion for me :)
And if you need more support, let me know! I'd love to run beside you or cheer you on from the sidelines!