As I sat here thinking through the last few weeks, I had a few ideas regarding the subject of my next post. I had a few that I wanted to do, but God laid something on my heart through a reminder of 8 years ago on Facebook. It was just a picture of me standing before a night of mountain biking with my brother.
My first thought was one of sadness, as I absolutely loved going to the trails as much as possible. I loved running, road cycling, and mountain biking. It took up a great deal of my time, as I trained as hard as possible. (I also like to remind people that I used to run and ride with that I was unknowingly doing it with MS the whole time. That should shave some time off of my official finishes.) I started to look through some more pictures of me before I had to abandon road racing and (normal, boring) cycling.
This was a picture of me at the Georgia Half in 2008. I had trained for 13 months for the full, but found out that I had a stress fracture three days prior to the race. In a decision that made perfect sense to me, I appeased the common sense medical advice by withdrawing from the 26.2 mile race. I replaced it with the younger brother of the marathon, the half. I figured that would be ok for my foot (doesn’t quite make sense in my head). I was so focused for 13 months of training that I was going to see it through because I was focused on the goal. I finished even much faster than I expected, crossing the line in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
When my leg started giving me problems running (for an unknown reason at the time), I turned to road cycling hard. I had to channel the focus somewhere so that I had something in which I could compete. I would spend hour after hour and mile after mile trying to channel my focus. I remember being so entrenched in the competition aspect that when I was running one day, I started to have trouble with my leg again. I remember very clearly yelling into the air, “if you aren’t going to let me be able to run, just take my walking as well.” I had no idea how God granting this request would change my life, and how thankful that I would be for the change. I have never really told many people about the moment I yelled at God to take my ability to walk, but that moment really has allowed me to go through this with little bitterness. I mean, I got exactly what I asked God to provide.
What I actually started to get at the moment that I could no longer competitively run and ride was perspective. I actually don’t think that I ever got to enjoy many rides or races because I was only focused on a clock/outcome. When I was first diagnosed, I remember what I consider to be one of my favorite rides of all time. I was wearing a new jersey that said “I Ride With MS.” The ride was not long…It was not fast…It was not even continuous. It lasted about an hour and 45 minutes and spanned about 5 miles, but I was focused on the process. I had a guy who asked me about my jersey when I stopped halfway through to take a break. It ended up being an hour long conversation where I shared my story and testimony. My perspective was changing, and my focus was on slowing down and becoming intentional with every interaction.
This is my favorite picture of any of my biking or running adventures. This is where I quit fighting God on my purpose. I was not going to be what I thought, but I was ready to be what He made me to be.
I am still focused on being the best that I can be at whatever the chosen activity has to be, but I focus on the process and enjoy it. I am also completely open to stopping completely to have a conversation if God opens up the door. In the end, I think that actually feels like it makes my finishing time better.