Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ignorant Parent- Ironman

The Ignorant Parent posts are a series that some friends and I thought would be fun to write from our different perspectives on various topics. Our goal is to encourage you when you need to be lifted up, to show you hope in every situation, to let you know that you are never alone and to glorify God with the stories that He has written for our lives. For more background on who we are and how we know each other, check out our bio page.

Today I asked Elizabeth to write from her heart about her journey to race in the Ironman. She finished her first one in Lake Tahoe last summer. On Sunday, she will race again. This time in Boulder, Colorado, alongside her husband, Travis.

Her words are beautiful and heartfelt. Sport is such a great analogy for life. I think God likes to use it much like He does with the parables- teaching us in easy, tangible ways that will impact us and give us a greater knowledge and deeper wisdom of who He is.


My Weakness: Where Christ will Shine

I started to use triathlons to boost my confidence and gain some health benefits along the way. That's always been the main drive. The first time, I had just had a baby and needed it physically and mentally. When I signed up for Ironman, I had some health issues that had turned my mind into a black hole of anxiety and brokenness. I needed to take my focus off the hard days of life, to think about something other than healing myself everyday and doing all I could just to feel well.

I am here to win. This life. For my God I desire to the depth of my soul to see others be passionate about the life God has planned for them every day, every detail. To feel how the tiniest steps of obedience in loving others and Christ affects ALL of us. I pray ridiculously that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than I can ask or hope. Not sure why, but I want to go FAST. I want to believe this body is capable. In fact, I am not even average. I am bottom five nearly always. But every once in a while, something happens, and I get a tiny taste of speed and power. It's exhilarating! And even if it's an entire year before I experience it again, I keep trying, pushing, believing God will eventually bring a new level out of me. I know His greatness is in there in all things. I pray and work so hard to be faster, to be more than last place, bottom of the pack. I TRY SO HARD. I use this body the way God made it, but truly the only thing I can do is show up and start the training. Not one of us is built the same. We are all unique. I am crushed and exhilarated all at the same time when my speed is the same as always, but I just did something I shouldn't have been able to finish.

Elizabeth crossing the finish line in Lake Tahoe in 2013.

I have seen the same tiny glimpses of His majesty and power in my life spiritually. The same carrot keeps me seeking Him regularly because when you grab hold of it, you don't want to let it go. Usually reading, writing or meditating on scripture, if I take down my wall and have a little faith that He is using it, He tells me something about where I am in life. To grow in love with Him, to read that He delights in me and believes I am worth the sacrifice to allow a relationship into my life, that is the reason I am alive....Well that takes purpose. It takes discipline. It's never easy to find the time. And if I let go of the noise of the world and pay attention, God shows me how He is a part of it all. Just look for it, it's the tiniest thing that sings to you and seems insignificant to others.

Every swim stroke, pedal stroke, and foot step I am offering to God. I know I am not capable to do this without Him. I feel weak and incapable of finishing any workout, but I believe He wants me to. I overcome my insecurities, my doubts. I say NO to giving in when He has more. And always (what has taken me years to understand and believe) God smiles. He rejoices. Because this is how He has chosen to show me I am worthy. To think I am amazing enough to be loved, whether I am fast or not. It doesn't matter. For yet while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Not because we were lucky enough to make it to the podium, or finally go out with the fast group. He loves us as we are, where we are. Nothing we do will change that.

I don't feel like I chose this for my life. In fact, I would say it was the least likely thing for this girl to pursue. I was not ever an athlete. I could not swim without holding my nose (it was a one-armed breast stroke). But I could visualize the peace and rhythm of myself swimming. I would walk when we were suppose to run at school. I still walk into gyms, look around and feel weak. I see others and think God made them stronger and that this fitness/health life and family is easier for them. I watch other moms serve, entertain, organize, craft, and think it's easier for them. I read books and blogs and think they are so smart. I feel this way, but what I believe is that I matter somehow, too. Just like a simple prayer, Bible verse, kind act from a friend or smile from a stranger matters. God is using those simple acts to show you His love. To say you are His BEST. He worked generations upon generations to make you for this time and place. No other parents could have brought you to this world. His plan for you and all the generations it took to create you was laid into play long ago.

I have learned to be open to those divine moments when God is leading my hand. He is always directing us when we desire to go His way and nothing will keep it from happening. "What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against (Romans 8:31)?" Turn off the noise and watch for God daily. I don't always listen though. But I know God is for us, so even my own stubbornness or misunderstanding can not be against.

So what I have just come to realize is that I have always felt like God was going to do something "big" in His name with me. Mainly because I want to see His power displayed on earth and have a reason to believe more than with blind faith and little glimpses. The big's already in the works. It starts when you say "yes" to doing the thing you think you cannot do. And then live by faith, for Him to complete it. A tiny step, turns into something big. I am reading Rhinestone Jesus, and I got caught up in how big her story and work for the kingdom is. And then it hit me: none of it would have happened if she hadn't started her blog, writing. With no real way to see how God was going to use that simple thing and turn it into a HUGE thing. When I signed up for my first Ironman, my son, in the middle of a melt down, said, "Mom, I am so glad you did the right thing. On your phone just now, you did the right thing." Praise God for that with me.

We all need to know when we step out in faith, do the right thing and follow the path you're on, it's the right one. It's yours. You are the only one who can be on it. Don't feel bad for sticking to it or believing in it. You're already shining, beaming with a win. We all win together.

Elizabeth wants her Ironman to have an impact on others beyond her immediate reach. Please consider joining us in donating to the A21 Campaign. Your donation will help bring healing and justice to a young girl who has been forced into sex trafficking. She can have hope because your gift will help give her a voice. Your donation is important in the fight for freedom and will help sustain every day care (food, clothing, shelter) and legal obligations such as court fees, medical tests and expense for representation.

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