A God Thing

For the past three years, running has brought such joy to my life. This month is my 3rd runniversary. I don't know the exact day I started, but I remember it was mid-June on a treadmill at the Y, and I only made it 1/4 of a mile. My 3rd child had just turned one, and I was in a funk. I felt a little lost and purposeless. I loved being a stay-at-home mom, but I craved adventure, excitement, and something just for me. Running fit the bill.

Early on, I almost felt guilty about the passion I had for running. Did I have that same passion for God? For serving others?

For two years, I talked to anyone and everyone about running, read everything I could get my hands on, and gave advice both solicited and unsolicited. A year ago in July, I took the step of gaining my Road Runner's Clubs of America coaching certification and immediately started a job at the YMCA training a half-marathon group of beginners.

For me, it was life-changing. I felt like I mattered to someone outside these four walls. I put my teaching past to good use. But the most important thing for me is that running became like a little ministry for me. I was coach/encourager. I remember thinking, "I wonder if God can use my running in some way?" Because if running is going to be THIS BIG a part of my life, I want God to be in it, too. I started leading the group in a short prayer before runs (for protection, for health, giving thanks). Several of us openly talked about our church, and a few of the runners even visited a few times.

Recently, my running club started a training group for an upcoming half-marathon (Women's Half on Sept. 25). We quickly had 35 people sign up to train together. I'm supposed to be assistant coach and the president of the club is head coach. I've helped get it off the ground, but now another opportunity has presented itself. I think this one might be a God thing.

The YMCA has a program called RESTORE, a Christ-centered ministry for people who are broken, and it physically, mentally, and spiritually rebuilds them with a combination of Bible study, group therapy, and exercise. Our local Y, my employer, just got the program. It's for any person, regardless of ability to pay, who is struggling with any issue---food addiction, depression, drug abuse, lack of direction-- whatever. It's a great cause.

The God-part is that I've been asked to lead a charity team of walkers and runners to train for that very same half-marathon. Each person is asked to raise at least $250 for the RESTORE ministry, kind of like Team in Training, only on a much smaller scale. Could the God/running connection be any clearer than this? We have to recruit at least 10 for the team or it won't happen. (We have one so far!) I think it will be neat to work with runners and walkers who want to both change their lives/health by running or walking a half-marathon and help others at the same time.

I'm so scared of overcommitting myself, but I think I can make all of this work. I'm hoping the two training groups can meet at the same time in the same location. There is safety in numbers!I can't see any reason why the fund-raising group can't share the road (and the coach) with the running club. And besides, it's my job to work with the YMCA group.

Maybe after the race on Sept. 25, I'll take a little break from coaching. Whew! I'm trying not to get overwhelmed, but I have been praying for God to use my running in some way. I guess He is.

The only part I'm sad about is the possibility of missing the first two soccer games for my girls. I'm hoping the schedule will work out that they have afternoon games in early September!


Wendy said…
Love this! Yes, definitely a God thing! I've been praying the same thing - that God could use my running in some way to glorify Him. I've made relationships w/people I normally wouldn't have, thanks to running. Running is also such a great time of prayer for me.

So excited for you!!
Leading the team sounds like fun! Hope it goes well!
Jen said…
Pray about it... and accept what God wants you to do. Praying here for you to HEAR!
Kate said…
Wow, this is just wonderful! I am so happy for you to have such a God given experience. It seems to me that He will totally use you through these opportunities. I have been wanting to be a "running coach" as well but have put the exception of completing a marathon before I do. I LOVE to get my friends interested in running and then loving it. :)

Sounds like me about missing my sons football games! Last year when I trained for a fall marathon, I scheduled everything around that schedule. It was so hard! This fall, I have conceded and told him I may have to miss one or two. He was so supportive. Maybe I won't have to! :)
Kelly said…
Sign me up Donna for the Women's Half to benefit the RESTORE program. Can you email me the details please? I was going to train for the Clarksville 1/2 again anyways this year, but I'll just make this one my big race for the year.
Bullock Family said…
Hey gal, I am really praying about this! I would love more info for a totally "new gal", times, etc. I am working 2 days a week, so I am like you about not wanting to over commit, but I can't resist a good goal and supporting Restore! Cortni Roy told me last night about it and then today I "stumbled" upon this post????? Having a "coach" makes me think it could be possible. I hated it before, but I trained on the treadmill and never learned to pase myself, so thinking it is worth another shot. Let me know if you think I have it in me! bullockfamily77@gmail.com