Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Created To Live

I've had dreams my whole life, but never the courage to act on them. Even the dreams I'm 100 percent sure are God-given remain untouched. Fear has a way of strangling dreams, choking the life out of a being until all that's left is existence.

The first time I saw Facebook friends posting about running a marathon, I thought...

That's amazing! I wish I could do that.

The next year when I saw them posting about the marathon and other running adventures, I thought...

I might try to do that next year.

Then when last year rolled around, and I saw them posting again, I was angry with myself...

I didn't even try! I said I wanted to try, yet I never even gave it a shot.

So last fall, I sent one of my running friends a message, asking if I still had time to train for the half marathon in February. She assured me I had time, and encouraged me.

On Sunday, my niece, Sarah, and I ran {and walked} 13.1 miles, and received the Finisher's medal for the Mercedes Half Marathon. The second I crossed the finish line, I doubled over in tears. Let me take you back:

I've always been afraid to reach for my dreams. Fear of rejection. Fear of criticism. Fear of failure. Fear. When I decided to participate in the half marathon, I knew my success or failure would fall square on my shoulders alone. I'd have no one to blame if I chickened out. I'd have no one to blame if I gave up. So I trained. I ran and ran and ran. My knee would ache, my shin would hurt, my back would give out; but I was determined. I often prayed for strength and endurance. Yet...when Sunday morning rolled around, fear came rushing in like it always has. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. When Mark asked how I was feeling, I said, I wish I'd never signed up to do this. I cried and prayed the entire drive to the downtown event location.

My heart pounded as we stood among thousands in the start line. Unlike all my other dreams, I'd finally arrived at a place where I was either going to succeed or fail. The first few miles were fairly easy. We'd stop briefly to stretch our legs, and resume running. We passed so many encouragers along the way...people with motivational signs {including my children}, volunteers handing out drinks. But around mile ten, I started getting really tired. My knee was aching, and my body was drained. We'd run. We'd walk. We'd run again. I thought several times about going to sit on the curb to rest. I wanted to quit. Then near mile twelve, a girl held a bright red sign with white letters that read, Total stranger, I am proud of you. As I ran past her, she stuck out her hand to give me a high-five. I teared up as I passed her. She, a total stranger, was encouraging me. She was proud of me {and all the other thousands} for making my dream come true.

I kept the girl with the red sign in mind during the last mile, and kept repeating this verse to myself: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Is. 40:31, KJV) As we crossed the finish line, I cried out to Sarah: We made it! Every fear, every unreached dream, every failure led me to that moment when I doubled over in tears with realization that I'd finally quit existing and started living! It was in that moment that I fully understood that God didn't create us to merely exist and die; he created us to live!


  1. CONGRATULATIONS on conquering fear and completing the marathon! That is a HUGE accomplishment! I'm proud of you... for finding the strength, the courage... to live! "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
    "But God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

  2. Good job. You did something that was really awesome and you did it well, congratulations.

  3. So very proud of you and so excited for you! I truly believe for those of us who know and love the Lord and also run, that often the training and achieving the goal of running a race of any distance is just as much a spiritual achievement as it is a physical achievement. My Lord teaches me so much through my training, and I know I have had some MAJOR spiritual breakthroughs when I have achieved the goal of crossing that finish line! It is like the enemy loses control of a part of my mind or life that he thought he had control over, and God gives me more freedom in Him... to live more obediently and to pursue more of Him.

    Praising God with you and so excited to see what He will do in and through you next!


  4. This post made me cry. I am so proud of you!

  5. Angie - Thank you! Love those verses!

    Sharon - Thank you!

    Tricia - Exactly!! I still feel like I can't accurately put into words the feeling of finishing. And another "random" thing was that I'm pretty sure I worshipped God more during that run Sunday morning than I would have at church. Strangely enough, there were very few distractions, and I had to keep praying and focusing on Him for strength and endurance.

    Jamie - Thank you!!

  6. Congratulations on setting your goal and achieving your dream! I know this is just the beginning of many goal achievements! Oh yes, just like the little girl, I'm proud of you too!!

    1. Jan - Thank you! Yes, this is just the beginning!

  7. CONGRATULATIONS! My two eldest boys have been jogging with me in the evenings after work, and they want to try to the Mercedes Half with me next year. We'll see! I'm only up to 2 miles right now ... just had my fourth baby and am taking baby steps to work back up to 4 miles. 13.1 would be a real leap! But your post was inspirational. :)

    1. Katherine - Thanks! You can do it!!!

  8. Congratulations!! That's awesome - I'm so impressed!! The most I've ever run was 7 miles, on the flat beach roads of Gulf Shores, and it still nearly killed me. I'm pretty sure the half marathon would have done me in!

    1. Rachel - Thanks! If you can run 7, you can run 13 easy!! :-)

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  10. Hi, Rebekah!

    I coincidentally found your post today on Wade Kwon's website. I wasn't sure if I should stay a "stranger" or not...but, I needed to let you know that you have repaid the kindness, strength, and encouragement that I gave to you. I am not a spiritual person, but I think it's remarkable how we have both unknowingly helped each other.

    I am nursing a heartache worse than anything I've experienced in my 25 years. The past few days have been extremely hard and challenging for me. Because of you, I truly smiled for the first time since Saturday.

    I am extremely proud that you kept with it and accomplished your goal that freezing cold Sunday. I am glad that I gave you that last bit of encouragement...that is what my friends and I set out to do at Mile 12.

    Your post made me realize that I was "sitting on a curb" instead of getting back up and going on with my life. Reading your story has given me a much needed high-five.

    Congratulations and thank you for being awesome!

    -Amber (Still Slightly A Stranger) Atkins

    1. Amber,
      I'm so glad you found my blog and introduced yourself!!! I am so excited to hear from you!!! You have no idea just how many times I've thought of you and your sign since that day! What you did was selfless and amazing!

      Please allow me to encourage you: I am proud of you for walking through heartache! Unfortunately, I am well acquainted with hurt and brokenness, and know the temptation to give up and quit. I know you said you're not spiritual, but please know that the God of the universe loves you more than you can even imagine, and He always wants to heal the brokenhearted. In a way, He used you to heal some of my hurts on that Sunday! (I wish I had room here to write a small novel just to tell you all the ways!)

      I am so thankful for you! I'll be praying that God will heal your heartache and give you an amazing story of grace and mercy!

      Thank you so much for commenting!!