“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

It was March of 2023, and I attempted walking and slow jogging again. We had recently purchased a treadmill, and I was recovering from both a foot injury and car accident injury. I was almost 7 months postpartum after baby #3 and my body was feeling really worn down. Seeing 1 mile on the treadmill with a time of 20:04 was an accomplishment. It was definitely a perspective shift from over a decade ago in college. That 20-23 minute range was my typical time for a 5K—a 3.1 mile race that I competed in all throughout college cross country. Now, years later, it was close to my time for a single mile. I remembered how tough I was on myself as an athlete—a 7-8 min mile for 3.1 mile was “just ok” back then. 

If you’ve read my blogs that date back to early college, (or if you’re really a long-time friend, read my final composition for the Burke Beat newspaper staff as an athlete) you’ll know that ever since I was a young girl, God has used running, training, and competing as a way to teach me many important life lessons. Running clears my mind and heart and seems to open an additional pathway of communication between the Lord and me. That day in March, God gently reminded me that even 1 mile was good. That it was beneficial for my body, and it was really a blessing that I could do that after the last couple of months. I was thankful. 

Fast forward to June 2023. As I was beginning to feel a bit stronger physically, I decided to try an actual outdoor run on that hot, summer day.

The run was beautiful. Worship music and feeling God stir things in my heart are things that are common on my runs. Today was no different. As I started to run, I was a bit surprised at how “easy” it felt. As any running coach will teach even a young child, the mind and mental capacity of a person, especially an athlete, is huge when telling your body what to do. This was technically my first “real” run since having my baby back in August. As I glanced at my watch to see my 12.5 minute mile pace, I laughed. I imagined the horrified look on my face as a 20 year old if I had ever run a mile this slowly. But then I remembered the last time I even attempted a mile, it had taken me over 20 minutes. I quickly put the negative thoughts to rest and remembered that comparison is the thief of joy. Why compare myself to myself or anyone else? I’m running, and I love this. I also realized that this is a new PR (personal record) for me! Isn’t that every runner’s dream at the end of each race? And not just a PR, but an almost 8 minute PR. Incredible. The words, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” went through my mind. How cool that God designed our bodies, minds and hearts uniquely. As I finished mile one, I had an adrenaline rush which kicked into mile 2. I flew through at another 12 minute mile pace and was ecstatic when I saw the 2.0 flash on my watch. The words, “I did it!!!” went through my head as I stepped out of the street onto the curb. Crack. I lost my balance but pulled myself up quickly. There went my foot. The same foot that had cracked back in January. My heart sank.

“Pride comes before a fall” came to mind right then. Oh, the verse that struck me—literally. I laughed and cried at the same time. Thankfully I was less than a half mile from home, but if anyone saw me hobbling back to my house that afternoon, I apologize. Thoughts went through my head—you idiot. Serves you right for going that extra mile. This isn’t fair! You have dinner plans with your parents and the kids tonight and you won’t even be able to walk. I’ll stop there with the negative thoughts because that’s when I shut them off. “I gave you the ability to run, Christine. Not you.” And don’t worry, those were not condemning, harsh words. You know when the Lord speaks to you. There is no question. I smiled as I remembered that. I was instantly grateful that God had even allowed me to run that day. 24:35 for 2 miles. I was thankful for that run. I couldn’t put weight on my foot for almost a day, but I focused on the positives. I did some of the stretches and exercises that my chiropractor had shown me after my fall and after the car accident. I thanked God for allowing me to run, regardless of when I’d be able to again. 

July 6, 2023 and a high of 74 degrees. A perfect, summer day. I had the urge to run again. My foot hadn’t hurt too much this last week or so, and I had been more intentional with increasing my water and eating a bit healthier, so a run seemed a little more doable. My husband was off work this week so he was able to watch the boys. I knew I may only be able to run a short distance before turning around, but had decided that whatever amount, I would be thankful. It was a beautiful day and I was excited to just be outside and talk with God. 

Before even a half mile, I caught myself looking at my watch. 12.5 minute mile pace. Then 11:48, then 11:33. When I hit 11:28, adrenaline hit. I began running faster on Cornhusker and felt so alive. My body felt good, the sunshine was beautiful, and surprisingly, my foot and ankle felt really strong. As I neared the next intersection, my heart dropped—if you’re a runner, you get it, and if not, you may just assume another layer of insanity, both of which are fine. The dreaded yellow light. I had to slow down for traffic. Oh that made me mad for a split second. I’m literally running fast right now and I have to slow down. “Be patient. Who are you racing against?” Why was I rushing? Literally passing bugs and walking birds on the sidewalk but otherwise no competition. As my 1 mile flashed with a time of 11:51, (my new PR), I was tempted to have that, “I did it!” Thought encompass my mind. Instead a, “Thank you, Jesus! You gave me strength to do this” took over. I was ready to keep going to mile 2. “Stop, Christine. Walk a minute or two.” No, these aren’t audible words I hear with my ears, but they’re words that are just as clear in my heart, and I know exactly Who they are from each time.

So, I stopped. I walked for 2 minutes and some seconds. I needed that recharge and that reminder that I’d burnout if I didn’t recharge. Maybe my foot would begin hurting if I didn’t take a short break.

Mile two was incredible. The breeze was beautiful. The worship songs that blasted through my earphones were combinations of lessons, praises, flashbacks, and awe all combined. God is so good. 

I had half a mile left. My foot didn’t hurt at all. It felt so strong. “How did that even happen, God?” I asked, aloud while running.

“I cracked it.”

What?! I kept going and was silent. “I cracked it in June for you.” Now that was a weird, and somewhat alarming thought.

Then it hit me. I had started to give myself more credit for a successful run than to the One who created my feet. He quickly got my attention in a very literal way. He had allowed a painful crack (a setback in my eyes), but was the needed crack to realign my foot again. It was also a realignment for my heart.

My foot was back in place. It hadn’t been since January. It hadn’t felt this strong or good since before that fall. My mind was racing. If I hadn’t fallen originally, I may never have been guided to the good chiropractor that I now have. She was there within a week of my car accident to help me heal from some minor (but not fun) injuries. She helped teach me how to strengthen my feet, whether injured, or healthy, and today I ran with stronger feet than before. God is good.  

Oftentimes, God uses stumbling blocks (literally), falls, or setbacks to help us grow. Sometimes these things don’t feel comfortable, and they may be relatively painful at times. However, He has the big picture in mind, and typically that’s not something we as humans are very good at.  

Mile 2 flashed. 12:13. Time to slow down. “Watch out for that curb.” There it was, right ahead. I needed that humorous reminder. I slowed down to a walk as I clicked the “x” to end my workout. “Good run, Christine. You trusted Me. I love you.” And those words were the most impactful from Him on the run that day.

I may always be a wordy, heartfelt writer about life, but the shortened, simplified version can be this: Don’t let fear get in the way of doing something that seems difficult, especially if it’s a passion or something that connects you more to God. Don’t lose those things during times of stress or difficulty. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine, even on a hot day. If you can sit, sit. If you can walk, walk, but keep your eyes on what’s ahead. If you can jog, do it, and if you get an adrenaline rush to sprint, be careful. Don’t let it get to your head or forget to thank God for the abilities he has given you. Don’t compare yourself to others or even to yourself at a different stage of life. Be prepared to slow down, stop, listen, and thank God for all he’s doing in your life. Don’t be afraid when plans change or when painful setbacks occur. And finally, talk to God. All the time. Ask him questions. Pray bold prayers. Talk to him like he’s your best friend. He will answer. He will guide, and He’ll provide a better friend than you’ll ever experience here on earth.