Thursday, September 8, 2016

Living a Life of Boldness

Exiting the lake at my first triathlon

I am panicked. Bodies are everywhere. I can’t breathe. I feel as if I am about to drown and I think, “I can’t do this.” I turn on my back to try to relax; it helps a little until I turn back around and another swimmer almost kicks me in the face! “My Lord, help me!” 10 more strokes I say to myself, just 10 more. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… I see the shore. No, 10 more! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5……I’m out! I peel the zipper of my wetsuit down. I made it! I breathe a sigh of relief. That was the hardest thing that I have ever done! This was my first triathlon in 2014, a sprint. 

When I made the decision to train for my first triathlon, I was terribly afraid of open water swimming. As a child, I had witnessed my beloved dog almost drown in the ocean. Fortunately, my sister (who was a very strong swimmer) saved him. In addition to the terror of almost watching my dog drown, I had seen Jaws several times: not a good thing for someone to watch who didn’t know that sharks were uncommon in the Pacific Ocean and didn’t live in any other body of water. 

I didn’t allow my fear to keep me from my goal. Prior to that first triathlon, I practiced just once in the Willamette with a group and it was initially terrifying. I even screamed when a twig hit my hand. However, I did it! At that first triathlon in 2014, I was very scared, but I came out of the water relieved to be done, proud and thankful. 

God wants us to be confident! Proverbs 3:5 says to Trust in, lean on and be confident in the Lord Jesus with all your heart and mind. So, the next day, I signed up for an Olympic triathlon! I realized that I needed more training in the water. A sprint triathlon had a ½ mile swim, but an Olympic was a mile. I trained for the swim by showing up over the next few weeks with the group practicing in the Willamette and I did get more confident. Now 3 years later, I’ve swum a couple of times at a 2 ½ mile lake event, several triathlons! I feel fear every new season, but one scripture that has always stuck with me is in Isaiah 41:10. Fear not, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. 

Another fearful moment that unsuccessfully attempted to cripple me happened about 4 years ago, I had a bear encounter in Gasquet, Ca. This is the story: I ran on two trails that connected. The first is 3 miles long and the 2nd is more of a fire road that seemed to rarely get used and it went on for many miles. I usually never saw anyone up there and if a car came, they would just wave. The only way back to my car is from the trail. I spent most of my time on the fire road. I’m on a 17 mile run and I'm just about on the trail headed back to my car and I hear a noise in the bushes. (I had heard there were cougars, but had never seen any yet). I heard the noise again and I think, “If I hear the noise one more time, I’m going to stop and see what it is!” This is when I see a large black bear, about ¼ mile away on the fire road! I first pull my body alarm, I now can’t hear, but the bear doesn't even look up! I yell at it and it finally looks up, but starts walking towards me! I keep yelling, I wave my arms and pull the alarm again and it doesn't stop! I walk away from it, but then stop when I was out of its sight. I then walk forward again to see if it's still there, it is and it’s stopped and looking at me. I yell again and it starts walking towards me! I pray for help! I am told to go into the forest, to go around him. Because stomping around in the forest made me louder as I walked by it, I finally see the bear run away to the opposite side of the forest. Because I didn’t want the bear to scare me away from my favorite running spot, I went back up to the exact location where I saw the bear the following weekend.  I’m thankful to say, I never saw another bear while we lived in California.

Romans 5:19 tells us that our choices to obey God’s calling not only affect us but our future generations. In obedience to God, we will impact not only ourselves to the blessings that God has for us, but our obedience will impact others (friends, acquaintances, family) in a positive way. 

When I got the calling to train for and run a marathon, I was watching the marathon runners in the summer Olympics. I said out loud, “I could do that!” A few weeks later, I got an invitation to train for a marathon in the mail after having a beer in the driveway with a neighbor. The seed to run was planted and I just needed to obey and say yes. I did say yes and that decision has changed my life forever. I learned that running is truly a gift that God has given me. Since running that first marathon, I moved on to several 50 milers and a 100 as well as triathlons. My kids have always known me to be an athlete who works hard and motivates others.

Running has taught me patience; it has taught me about hard work, to not allow fear to consume me, self discipline, self respect and strength. What if I had disobeyed and said with doubt, “I don’t think I could train for a marathon; I feel afraid; I don’t even like running and I’m too slow!” Disobedience also impacts everyone around us. Think about the lives around that you have touched because you chose to obey and not allowed fear from holding you back!  

God does not want you to live in bondage to the fear that is holding you back from living your life and your goals. Live in boldness for Jesus. Lay your fears down and ask him to help you. In II Timothy 1:7-8 Paul states that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."

If you feel fear and don’t want it to hold you back from living out your dreams and goals, pray this prayer with me, “Dear Lord, I thank you that you didn’t give me a spirit of fear nor timidity; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me. You are my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in you and I thank you for helping me. I ask that you will strengthen me for I believe that I can do all things through you who strengthens me, in the name of Jesus I pray Amen.” 

Seen on the Gasquet trail
The fire road in Gasquet is actually all uphill until you decide to turn around.

The fire road

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