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Because I Can't Even Walk . . .

I started half-marathon training about three weeks ago. Just writing that sentence makes me realize how ridiculous it is that I have been so frustrated with my training so far. Three weeks. Three measly weeks of training . . . after not running AT ALL for five months, and for some reason I have been disappointed by my progress. Last Monday I said to a friend "I haven't had a single satisfying run since I started training."

Well, first of all, wahhhh. And second, double wahhhh! Better yet, as my cousins Anita and Lana would say, "oh boo hooty hoo." I mean, what a whiner I have been. In fact, when I finished my five-miler last Saturday, I was so frustrated by my time, by how poorly I had finished, and by how hard the last two miles had been, that I literally cried . . . for about five steps. And then I remembered: thank You, God, for legs that can run.

I started saying those words 15 years ago. I had run on and off since high school, but between 1988 and 1998, I had hardly run at all. In May of 1998 I was recovering (slowly) from a broken heart, and after months of struggling emotionally, on May 18th, I stepped out the back door of my little house in Kellogg and ran for 15 minutes. It was a significant step in my recovery, and it was the beginning of my most steady running season ever. In fact, although I often take off several months at a time, I have considered myself a runner since that day.

Not long after I started running steadily, my dear cousin Anita was diagnosed with MS. (She continues to fight a brave battle with this disease.) I remember walking up the little hill to my house after a particularly challenging run, dripping sweat, and feeling the joy of having pushed my body, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the miracle of it all. "Thank You, God, for legs that can run." I said those words aloud that day, and I have said them countless times since. Sometimes I add to that mantra (for lungs that can breathe, for a heart that is strong, for a mind that can choose), but the "legs that can run" has been and will continue to be at the core of my thankfulness.

I can't even begin to explain why I have legs that can run, while others don't, but I do know that I don't want to ever cry about a slow time or a hard finish. I know that Anita does not begrudge me these legs. On the contrary, she is one of my biggest cheerleaders (in all areas of my life).

Many years ago I used to sing a song (with my brother David and friend Dee) that has the following words:

I can't even walk, without You holding my hand.
The mountain is too high and the valley is too wide.
Down on my knees, I've learned how to stand.
Because I can't even walk without You holding my hand.

As I was out on my very satisfying six-mile run tonight, the words to this song came back to me, and they cemented in me that feeling of the miraculous nature of what I get to do every single day. I am not in perfect health, and I am not as energetic or as fast as I want to be. But I have legs that can walk--that can run. I have a mind that enables me to teach. I have a voice that can sing and fingers that can play the piano. I could go on and on and on. Mostly, though, I know that I couldn't do any of this without the Creator of the universe, my heavenly Father, who makes all things possible.

Thank You, God, for legs that can run. And thank You, for reminding me today that I can't even walk without You holding my hand.


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