When I was pregnant with my first child, I really wanted to be the woman that ran every day of her pregnancy, popped out a baby, and then ran a half marathon three months later. I wanted to be her so badly, but then motherhood happened. Motherhood included a colicky baby, breastfeeding issues, and normal first time Mom exhaustion and anxiety. Eventually I got back on the horse, and ran a half just 9 months after she was born, and felt pretty good about it.
And then I had a second child, and a third. I still wanted to be a runner. I wanted to be like those girls on my Strava whom I knew had two or three kids at home but still managed to race PR’s and get in thirteen-mile-long runs on the weekends. And even more than that, I wanted my collegiate runner body back. I wanted to weigh less, be more toned, and run fast again.
All of this longing, and envy came to a head when I ran a half marathon relay with a good running friend after about a year of good training. I was waking up before 6 am 5 days a week to run, and then getting to the gym later in the day to work out. But none of that mattered on race day. I was trying so hard, and not seeing the results that I wanted. I got home after what seemed like a terrible race and felt like I had the flu. My body was done, and my spirit was crushed. I couldn’t do it anymore, so I decided to take some time off and re-evaluate.
Just five days after this race the most devastating wildfire in California ripped through our neighboring town, and brought our community to its knees. We were inundated with evacuees, and stories: heartache, pain, and terror. It was so much to bear. And in retrospect, I am so thankful, that the Lord had released me from intense training before this happened. My running friends scrambled to finish workouts in the smoky air: hopping on treadmills for ten-mile runs, and workouts. Instead of an intense pressure to train, I felt immense freedom to follow what the Lord was calling me to. The freedom from working out enabled me to help plan a kid’s camp for evacuee children, and really love them through the trauma of losing everything.
And after all of the chaos died down, the Lord called me again. And again, I had time and brain space to respond. He had been calling me for months to write, and I had no time to write, no time to hear what he wanted me to write, and really no time for Him at all. I went to church, attended bible study, and fit in quiet time within my day if I could find a spare minute, but that was mostly never. And I ran numerous miles, and most days still looked at other runners and wondered, why can’t I look and be like them? And why can’t I succeed at anything in my life right now?
When I gave up the notion of running fast, and decided to, for a season, pursue fitness for health sake there was so much freedom. I began to set my alarm for 5:30 am to spend time with the Lord, not time with my watch and my running shoes. And the more I spent time in His word, and writing what he was speaking to me, the more I realized running had become my idol, and had enabled sin to creep in: envy, selfishness, frustration, not spending time with him, and an unwillingness to follow his call.
“Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
Once I began to seek God above running, above my body, he gave me everything I needed. Where I was once obsessed with running times and scales, I began to see that my body was doing everything it could with what I had. I was able to see past these idols to my three beautiful children and wonderful husband. I have a church community, an amazing group of friends: so many rich blessings from the Lord. And because I was consumed by what times I could run, I missed out on being consumed by all that I had, and all that I am beyond hitting the pavement. And being consumed by the one who loves me the most, and created this body I spent so much time resenting: God.
“So God created human beings in his own image…” Genesis 1:27a
How could I resent the body God created in his own image? The body that he created to run at the collegiate level? The body he created to be married to a great husband and father? The body he created to house and birth three wonderful children? The body he created to walk this life of mine and to enjoy every step?
I don’t look in the mirror every single time and see exactly what I want, but I can now remind myself that God created me, and no time on a watch can ever define what he created me to be: a wife, a mother, a writer, and an athlete. I still enjoy running, and get out the door a few times a week, mostly with friends, or to spend some quality time with my kiddos, and a coffee shop. And I probably will race again, but I will do it seeking God first, and running in the body that he created.
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Ondi is a former high school English teacher, and current stay at home Mom. She is married to an amazing husband, whom she met running track and cross country in college. She has two girls, and one boy under 6 years old. She is currently working on abiding in Christ, and writing on her blog whatever comes from that time. Ondi enjoys running, coffee, reading, writing, and all the desserts.