More Than I Did at First

By Beth Lichty


Running was an elusive sport to me for many years.  I watched many people I knew lace up their special running shoes for a daily run of a predetermined length.  Sometimes these runners would join friends and other times go solo.  I was absolutely fascinated by this ritual.  Yet, something was always holding me back from joining in.  I knew I wasn’t a runner like all of these folks, so I couldn’t just join them.  I would need to train – whatever that meant – like they did.

Then one day in April 2009, I decided I was going to figure out how to be a runner.  I had a 2 month old and a 20 month old with a husband in residency which equated to being a married single mom.  Our parents were far away and I needed to figure out a way to keep my sanity.  A friend introduced me to the local YMCA.  This establishment allowed parents to leave their children in a daycare for two hours each day.  I worked out and showered in peace.  Some days I would sit and read.  I realized I needed a goal to reach for, so I started training for a local six mile race.  I ran in this race while pushing a double stroller.  The endorphins were extremely high at the finish line and I thought, “I can do this again.”  I set my sights on a nine mile race next, then a half marathon.  A few more half marathons turned into a full marathon.

By definition, I was a runner.  I still didn’t believe it yet.  Yes, I ran.  Yes, I trained.  Yes, I loved the sport.  I just didn’t feel I was the true definition of a runner.

Fast forward 13 years. Today, I truly accept myself as a runner.  A runner is simply that – a person who runs, trains, and loves running. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far or how many race medals a person has  have crammed in a drawer.  Roy T. Bennett said it best when he said, “Do not fear failure, but rather fear not trying.”

Learning to run is a lot like learning how to become a follower of Jesus.  In the beginning of my adult life I didn’t read the Bible daily or say prayers or even attend church regularly.  How was I going to train to be a follower of Jesus?  At some point while trying to find my place in the running world and Christian world I stumbled upon this verse from James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”   This opened my whole being.  I realized if I persisted I could, and would, become a follower of Jesus.

I needed to take small steps in learning to follow Jesus just like I did with my running.  I needed to start small, so I started attending church weekly even when my husband was on call at the hospital.  I read Bible stories to my boys from their “Very First Rhyming Bible”.  This helped me become acquainted with Bible stories too.  Eventually I was brave enough to attend an adult Sunday school class.  In Revelations 2:19 we read,  “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.”  I was learning through perseverance, doing more than I did at first.

No matter what journey you are on, big or small, learning to be a runner or a follower of Jesus, just keep moving forward in your own space and time.  Jesus sees our perseverance, whether that’s reading rhyming Bible stories to our kids or repeating running mantras while running up a hill.  The verse from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength” is the perfect verse for running, following Jesus, and life.