By Sadie Curtin
This past May, I accomplished one of the most amazing physical triumphs of my life thus far – I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon. I was asked by a friend to do this as a Living Person Challenge and I automatically agreed without once considering the fact that I couldn’t even run around my block without stopping.
Reality hit the next day
but the decision was made and it was time to lace up the running shoes (might I add these had to be purchased). I began training in January for the race in May, and when I say I started with baby steps--I mean it. It went something like this: walk for 2 minutes, run for 1 minute, walk for 2, run for 1, etc. After some persistence and time I could run a whole mile by myself...
a challenge overcome that I will never forget.
With continued training and over the course of a few months, I was running 3, 4, 7, 10 miles without stopping. When it finally came time for race day, I was beyond excited to finally accomplish my goal. After 13.1 miles in the sleet and ice of a Cleveland Sunday in May, I did it. I accomplished something I never thought possible.
Today’s Gospel is filled with many important messages, but there is one in particular that stands out: “for God all things are possible.” This is a “Gospel classic” commonly seen on bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, and home décor.
There is a reason this line has gained so much popularity.
For me, I find it comforting to know that no obstacle, no challenge, no injustice, nor misunderstanding is impossible for God to fill with courage, strength, love, or acceptance. The wisdom I glean from this phrase goes beyond God’s capacity to do all things, and it filters into my human capacity to allow God into my life so that, I too, can do all things. There is no reason to deem things impossible if I allow God into my world, my daily actions, my relationships, and my challenges.
This doesn’t mean that everything will be easy and perfect, but it means that God will sustain me through uncharted territory and over unknown obstacles.
The training for and running of the half marathon was one of those things I never thought possible before January of 2016. In fact, it was one of those I-could-never-do-that sort of things. So, as I reflect on that milestone some months later, I am beginning to see that God was a major part of that process. Running quickly became my prayer outlet and my time to just be present with God. I do not listen to music when I run, but I found my mind being filled with phrases and mantras of God’s love, or asking for God’s guidance. Some of the ones I relate to the most are lines from sacred music including:
“fill us up and send us out” or “holy spirit, breath of the love of God, you are always present” or “make me a channel of you peace.”
These phrases began to match my breath and my stride, and became the guiding force that prepared me for 13.1 miles. Perhaps I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time but I allowed God to enter into the challenge with me and to fill me with guidance, positivity, and strength to accomplish something I never dreamed possible.
The lesson I learned from reflecting upon the journey of my half marathon is that allowing God into my life has beautiful results. My experience tells me that indeed I can do anything with God as my center, so I am led to ask what is next?
What challenge is God asking me to tackle?
I believe all of us can ask the same question, but the hard part may be accepting where God is taking us. Life’s challenges may not always be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other for 13 miles, but there is nothing impossible in our future with God walking (or running) with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sadie Curtin is the Co-Director of Faith Formation at the Church of the Gesu and a graduate student of Pastoral and Theological Studies at Ursuline College. She is a lover of travel and new adventures, but is proud to call Cleveland home. She fills her time with laughter, singing, enjoying sweet treats, and most recently running -- all because someone asked her to share in The Living Person challenge!