Chicago Marathon Race Recap 10-07-18

The Chicago Marathon has always been a bucket list race for me. We used to volunteer at the water stations every year during high school cross-country, and I remember being inspired and thrilled by it. So when a friend asked if I would enter the Chicago Marathon lottery with her, I easily said YES! Due to a spring time injury and two beginning of summer races, I ended up taking a month off of running in early summer. It wasn’t until mid-July that I began to start running again. For my Chicago Marathon training, I built up to a 20 mile long run, I hit 40 miles for my peak week, and I had consistent weekly speed workouts with my running buddy. I felt confident in my abilities going into the race, but was unsure if a PR was on the table with only 10 weeks of marathon training.

The Chicago Marathon expo was huge and had an amazing atmosphere. I got my Bib and packet, and met up with my two college cross-country friends. My husband and I took our time checking out the vendors at the expo, and I checked out the Nike pacing groups. My goal time for this race was a 3:45, two minutes faster than my PR. When I signed up for Chicago last November, I felt really defeated after a rough fall marathon, and put myself down for a goal time of 4:00. As a result, I got placed in Wave 2, Corral G. The Nike pacer told me a 3:45 would be tough to get in Corral G due to being gridlocked by runners aiming for a 4:00 finish time. He told me to ask customer relations if I could be bumped up a corral with a proof of time showing a <4:00 marathon. I went over to customer relations with my Bayshore Marathon time (3:55) pulled up on my phone screen. Without hesitation and without even asking to see my proof of time, the customer relations guy bumped me up to Wave 1. In fact, the guy was encouraging me to just go for it.

I slept close to 3 hours the night before the race. I was so restless at 2:30 am, so my husband cut one of my melatonin pills in half, gave it to me, and I was knocked right out (I need to take Melatonin before every race now!). I woke up at 5:45 am, made it to the train by 6:30, and got to Grant Park around 7. Getting through security was quick and I still had plenty of time for all the pre-race necessities.  I set my Garmin to timer mode, because GPS gets wonky in Chicago and plus I didn’t want to be tracking every single mile split. I started at the WAY back of wave 1. It took a while to get up to the start line but before I knew it I WAS RUNNING THE CHICAGO MARATHON!

On the train to Grant Park!

The focus at the beginning of the race was on not getting too excited and going out too fast. I focused on control. I couldn’t help but smile. There were so many fans, signs, costumes, and support lined up throughout the course. I definitely fed off that energy. But early on in the race, I was struggling with a lot of doubt and worries of the dreaded mile 18 wall that I have experienced at EVERY marathon I’ve ever run. At mile 7 I noticed it began to rain and I looked up and saw signs for the 3:45 pace groups. They were nowhere in sight when I started the race. First thought in my head was “CRAP, I MUST BE GOING WAY TOO FAST.” After a mini freak out, I realized I couldn’t change anything and I just had to go with it. I surrendered the race over to God, trusting Him with whatever may come of this race. By miles 8-9 I had fully caught up to the 3:45 pace group and tried really hard to settle in.

The pace group was congested. I kept getting cut off, elbowed, or stepped on. So I slowed down the pace and tucked in right behind the pack to get a little bit more breathing room. Plus I was already going too fast, I told myself I better not pass this pace group. I saw my family at mile 9, and my husband started to run with me for a little bit. I told him I felt really good, but I also was freaking out that I was going too fast. He told me to just hold the pace because I was running consistent and great.

Because I was wearing a hat due to the rain, I was mainly looking down at the ground, looking up only to work the tangents of the course. I kept catching up to the leaders of the 3:45 pace group without realizing it. I hit the half marathon point at 1:51:35. I felt a wave of relief, I was right on track for a 3:45 marathon. After the half, I kept accidently passing the 3:45 pace group. I would look up and they were nowhere in sight. I felt my body had one pace at this point. I didn’t feel like I was over-exerting. But I felt if I held myself back with this pace group, it would almost take more effort and I would feel more fatigued. So I just let my body go at its own pace. At mile 17 I still felt like I was going strong, and just told myself the countdown was in the single digits. How many 9 mile runs have I done in my life? The dreaded mile 18 came, and I fully expected the wall, BUT IT DIDN’T COME! In fact, I thought there was a course error because Mile 18 to 19 flew by. Every mile marker I passed, I talked aloud to myself, prayed, and just focused on making it to the next mile marker.

By mile 21-22, my hip flexors and adductors felt so stiff, but I could still feel myself propelling forward, passing people. Chinatown had great support, and it was a blessing, because that was where the mental and physical exhaustion really started kicking in. It was time to get to work. I reminded myself that Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, and Gwen Jorgensen had just run these same streets, and had probably felt the burn, but they didn’t give up! I also focused on the mantra “choose your outcome.” I knew I could walk away from Chicago with a PR if I stayed focused, or I could walk away without a PR if I listened to how my body was feeling. Then out of nowhere my husband popped in the race, always cheerful and always peppy. We laugh about this now, but I remember just feeling straight up irritated as he was holding up his phone, taking a bunch of selfies, asking me to smile repeatedly. I flashed a smile, solely to have him stop taking pictures of me, and he ran off the course after saying some words of encouragement.

The last two miles seemed to stretch on for so long. I calculated in my head if I ran at 10 minute pace I could still PR. As tempting as it was to slow down, I knew I was not going to settle for the bare minimum. I wanted to make that PR gap as large as I could. I saw my family at mile 25 edging me along for a strong finish. My body was screaming at me to slow down, to quit, and to give up, but I suppressed that negativity and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Mile 25 in all it’s slumped over glory haha

 

Before I knew it, the 800 m mark came, then 400 m, then 300 m, then I rounded the corner and there it was, THE FINISH! My legs felt like lead, but I still broke out into the fastest sprint I could manage. I am a sucker for finish line pose pictures, but at that point I was too tired to even put my arms up to pose. I made it through the finish line and I looked down at my watch and saw 3:43:19. I had done it! A new marathon PR!

My first thought was “Thank You, Jesus!” Cue the happy tears. This was the first marathon that I truly didn’t “hit the wall” and didn’t completely fall off pace, yet it was the most mentally and physically challenging race I’ve ever ran.  I remember shortly after thinking, “Do I really ever want to do this again?” The physical pain and the mental torture of those last 5 miles were still burned in my brain. Then I got my Chicago Marathon medal and looked around at the sea of finishers who were beaming with joy, crying tears of happiness, taking medal selfies, giving hugs and high-fives to complete strangers, and toasting with post-race beers. The energy was contagious, powerful, and could not be felt or reproduced anywhere other than a marathon finish line. Marathons are always hard; there will always be mental agony and physical pain. But that is what makes that finish line feeling so great and worthwhile. Finding the guts and the grit to rise above a body that just wants you to slow down is what makes that finish line atmosphere so unique, surreal, and emotional. It is just one of the many things that bonds all 44,000 of us finishers together. Marathon runners are a strange kind of breed; what we are willing to put ourselves through for the sake of passion or fun is downright nuts! But I am dang proud to be one of them. Of course I want to do this again! It didn’t take but a few minutes later for me to ask myself, “So when’s the next one?”

After walking waddling probably close to a mile, I finally made it out of the athlete village to the family meet up area. I found my family, and hugging them made even more tears come out. They are truly wonderful. It rained for most of the race, and they traveled all over the city just to cheer me on. I am blessed to have such an amazing and supportive family. I met up with my two college friends Alicia and Maddie post-race. Chicago was Alicia’s first marathon; she ran so smart and strong with an awesome finish time! We all ran cross-country in college together, and it was fun to feel like teammates again. Because of the crummy weather, we didn’t stay for the post-race party, I needed Starbucks and a shower!

My first Chicago Marathon was an experience to remember, and I would HIGHLY recommend this race to anyone. The residents of Chicago really show up, rain or shine, lining the streets with encouragement, cheer, and motivation. The course is beautiful and in my opinion, it’s the best way to tour such a wonderful city. And inspiration is plentiful. Thank you, Jesus, for a strong and healthy race, and allowing me to surrender all my racing freak outs over to you!

Now, to pick my next marathon… 🙂

What Is My Purpose?

What is your purpose?

What thoughts come to mind when you read this question? Do you have a concrete answer? Does it change based on the season of life that you are in? (Please comment below I would love to hear!)

My purpose is to point up to Christ in all that I do and everyone that I interact with. Easy enough to answer. But living that out though? It’s really hard. We live in a world that tells us we need to “live life to the fullest”, have as many new experiences as possible, make more money, look skinnier, have more curves, do more, be more, climb up the corporate and social ladders, and everything else under the sun. This culture tells us that more is better and your worth is defined by what and how much you achieve. The world tells us our purpose is to do everything we can to get the most out of our maybe 80 years on Earth, without regard for the rest of eternity. Deep down in my heart, I know better, but to be honest I feel crushed under the weight of those lies more often than not. In the shadow of all these lies comes a lot of struggle with doubt, insecurity, and self-confidence. I’ve let myself believe countless times that I’m not a “good enough” wife, friend, Christian, runner, PT, etc. I believe I struggle with these lies because I fail to regularly “check in” to make sure I am glorifying God through all those roles that I am blessed to take on in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. Goals are important. They prevent us from becoming stagnant and complacent. They drive us to work hard and to do our very best. I’m a goal-oriented person and I see that as a blessing. Plus, Jesus doesn’t want us slacking! Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” But notice it says work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. Any time we are serving the Lord, and not our own selfish ambitions or other people, we are glorifying Him.

Yesterday I ran the Chicago Marathon and my primary goal was to run for Jesus. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve idolized running in the past, and running for Jesus makes racing a lot more fulfilling. So in order for this to happen, I had to tell myself time and time again that if the marathon went great, I would refuse to see myself as greater…and if the marathon didn’t go well, I would refuse to see myself as less than. While of course I wanted to run fast and PR, if that was my primary driver and purpose for running, I would not be glorifying Christ. From the beginning of the race I had a lot of doubts and worries, and at mile 7 I finally had to surrender the outcome of the race over to God, and just run with heart. And I did. Since He created me, I am already enough, with or without a PR, with or without this race. He gives me the passion to run and a healthy body, and it is my duty to Honor him!

I have been tremendously blessed with the calling of being a wife. I am a faithful and loving wife first to honor the Lord and to fulfill my calling. My husband receives the fruit of this fulfillment, and vice versa! This is especially important when we don’t see eye to eye, argue, are upset with each other, or we’re not acting “lovable”. But since we love and serve each other for God’s glory, we can love, forgive, and encourage each other, even when our emotions are telling us otherwise. Our love and respect for each other are not based on our behavior, feelings, performance, and what we can get from the other. We are able to love each other because God loved us first (1 John 4:19). Putting God in control of our marriage brings so much joy and makes things a lot more fun!

We glorify the Lord any time we are actively carrying out His plans for us. When I get stressed at work, I remind myself that the Lord is healing people through me and that He is being glorified. I can’t even wrap my head around that completely, but it makes the little things I stress and worry about in my work day seem so minuscule in comparison. I glorify the Lord in my friendships by being an encourager, prayer warrior, and truth speaker as we walk through the craziness of life together. Just as important, I glorify the Lord in my friendships when I am vulnerable and transparent about how I am hurting or about my deepest needs. God has given me the best people in the world to pray for me, support me, and to speak life into me in those times!

I need to actively seek to glorify God in all aspects of my life. I definitely am not always intentional about how God is working in my life and through the lives of those around me. As a result, I fall into spiritual slumps, I start feeling lukewarm in my faith, and I believe the lies of this world. But focusing on all that God is doing, both the big exciting things and the tiny little details, is super cool and can be mind-blowing. It reminds me of my true purpose for my life on this Earth. It helps me keep an eternal perspective when the world says otherwise.

My intention for this upcoming week is to be more focused and aware of God’s presence in the normal day-to-day life.

If you have any prayer requests, questions, or just want to chat, feel free to comment or message me 🙂

Love, Meg

 

Sometimes I Lack Faith

I don’t always believe in what I pray for. Sometimes I lack faith.

I’m blessed to serve a God who loves “impossible” prayers. You know…the prayers that seem so risky, so scary, and so big, just to say out loud, or even just to think about. I’m guilty of being the person who is willing to say the impossible prayers, but who doubts God’s ability to answer them.

I was pretty convicted reading through Mark 6:1-6. Jesus went to visit his hometown after performing countless miracles and healings, and the community there was pretty cold, to say the least. They acknowledged his wisdom and the miracles he had performed. However, they questioned the source of the wisdom and miracles, not out of admiration, but out of disdain.  In their eyes, Jesus was just a common everyday average-Joe. They jabbed at his family- status and class-status as a carpenter. How was it possible that someone so low on the social totem pole could be doing divine work? They were offended by him. They lacked faith that his work was fueled by the Lord.

Because of their lack of faith, Jesus healed a few sick people, and then moved on. Yes, there was work to be done there, lives to change, and miracles to be performed.  But because of their lack of faith, he left.

Could he have performed the miracles? Absolutely.  This isn’t an Elf situation where Jesus needs people to believe in him in order to perform miracles (I couldn’t pass up referencing one of my favorite Christmas movies!). Jesus doesn’t need my prayers. I need my prayers. Regardless of my disbelief or doubts, God’s will be done. Amen!

And I’ve seen this happen in my life, over and over again…

When I first moved to Michigan 7 months ago, I prayed for the life I am living now – the community, the friends, the job, the fun, etc. But at the time, I deeply felt that God had let me down by calling me to live here. I prayed and remained hopeful, but I questioned God had a unique plan for me to be here. I doubted things would ever get better. My faith was wavering, but He was faithful all along. I truly am loving life right now!

I have prayed for friends to come to know Jesus, even though deep down I doubted that they would ever have that desire. Now these friends lead me and inspire me in my walk with God.

I prayed for Jesus to heal my relationship with Justin when we were at an all-time low while dating. Our relationship was more worldly then Christ-like, and our relationship was falling apart. I doubted God’s ability to restore us, but prayed anyways. Yet here we are married, stronger and more joyful than ever.

I have prayed countless times to overcome my anxiety and to not let it hold me back from pursuing new challenges and opportunities. To be honest, this is a daily struggle. But even despite crippling anxiety I…Graduated through a rigorous PT school curriculum – check! Moved out of my comfort zone to a new state to start a new chapter in life – check! Continue to cross the finish lines of marathons – check! Switched to two different career settings at once – check!  All of these things scared me to death initially, but God helped me get the jobs done!

I could go on! I’m no better than those people from Jesus’s hometown. I’ve doubted his ability to hear and answer my prayers time after time. What God has planned will always prevail, regardless of my mistakes and shortcomings.

Nonetheless, this passage convicted me of the importance of truly believing in the sovereignty of God. I am called to believe and to have faith. What if God has chosen not to move in my life due to my lack of faith? What work might be done in me or in others around me, just by simply believing that God CAN? How might God’s Kingdom be expanded even more, simply by just having genuine faith in my Savior? I don’t have the answers, but I know where I need to start.

Just Believe.

From this day forward, I’m striving not just to say the impossible prayers. But to believe in them, too. To believe that God CAN and WILL. I am choosing to believe in what I pray for. That God can change lives. Restore relationships. Heal illnesses. Move within me. Move in others. Guide me on the unpredictable path He has planned for me.

I just need to believe.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Race Recap: Bayshore Marathon (5/26/18)

I decided to run the Bayshore Marathon on whim one late night in January. It boasted a beautiful course with gentle rolling hills right along the Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. They shut down the residential road on one of the peninsulas so runners can have a beautiful view during their races. I trained hard from then until early April, when a suspected tibial stress reaction forced me to be sidelined for 3 weeks. I tried to get back into running as quickly and safely (these two do NOT go hand in hand), as I could. To say it shortly, I was underprepared for this marathon. I hadn’t run more than a 23 mile week or longer than a 13 mile long run within 7 weeks before my race. It was a risky move to run a marathon on that type of injury. To be honest, I didn’t know if you would call it passion or stupidity, but either way, I just had faith that I was meant to run this race.

Being underprepared for my marathon forced me to involuntarily change my intentions for race day. Had I been well trained, I would have been fixated on running below a certain time on race day. Given the circumstances, my goal for Bayshore was just to cross the finish line, if my leg would allow me to. I made the decision to not wear my watch on race day. I knew I had lost some of my fitness within the past 7 weeks, and I didn’t want to mentally psych myself out by running slower paces.

The weather for race day called for hot conditions. I prioritized hydrating the week before, chugging water and Gatorade between patients at work. We drove up to Traverse City on Friday, and stopped for Cliff blocks and new Balega socks. Seeing my bib made things feel real; I was excited, fearful, and unsure…pretty much all the emotions. My husband and I decided to go for a walk to shake off my nerves, and we instantly saw the track and the race finish line. I roll my eyes at myself for this now, but as soon as I saw the finish line, I burst into tears.

Aloud I wondered “What if I never make it across the finish line?”

With which my husband asked, “Do you find your identity in running?”

“No,” I responded.

“Who do you find it in?”

“Jesus”

“Yes!”

We have found that comforting and reassurance doesn’t really do anything for my anxiety. But being reminded of Truth does wonders.

Race day came. I had nervous teary eyes leading up to the race. Justin prayed for me and I went off into the starting area. The gun went off, and they herded us towards the starting line, corral by corral. As soon as I crossed the starting line, all the nerves and fears were gone. I was in my element, doing what I loved, with thousands of other people who shared that same love. The first 5 miles, I concentrated on running strong, but not going out too fast. Without my watch to keep me in check, I focused on settling in with a pack of runners. No shin pain yet, I felt relieved. At mile 5, I saw Justin who made me laugh, cheered me on, and ran with me for about 30 seconds or so. All I can say is the first half of the marathon was a blur. It went fast and I felt so strong. I saw Justin again at mile 11. At the half marathon turn around, the clock showed 1:53. Not what I was expecting at all. I knew if I could just hold this pace, I could PR. The next 4 miles, I stayed strong and kept after my goal. I was fired up and gave Justin a high-five at mile 15.

the turn-around point!

Shortly after mile 17, my legs tightened and stiffened up. I felt good breathing-wise and from a cardiovascular standpoint, but it was beginning to take a lot more effort to advance each leg forward. I know God was there, carrying me through it, because I didn’t panic or get discouraged like I have in the past. I just kept telling myself, I am going to go as fast and stay as strong as I can, even with my legs feeling like this. I told myself to embrace “hitting the wall” because I would much rather choose to feel like this instead of sidelined with sharp shin pain. Just before approaching mile 19, I saw a collapsed runner on her side, vomiting, under the care of two race emergency responders.  I lifted her up to God and remembered our duty as runners is to run for those can’t. I then began to realize how hot it actually was outside. The Traverse Bay was still cold from winter, so every now and then we would get a cold breeze to cool us off.

Mile 20 came along, and like everyone around me, I was feeling very over-heated. The temp was up to 79. Justin was cheering me on at mile 21, the last stop I would see him before the finish line. Even with heat, I was not feeling dizzy, foggy, or nauseated. I prioritized finishing my cups of water and gatorade at the aid stations instead of taking a few sips and tossing my cup like I usually do. Those who lived on the peninsula came out to cheer, and were life savers. They handed out cold water bottles, freezing rags to place on the back of our necks, and had giant hoses to squirt us down. By then my shin was really starting to deeply ache. Not in such a way where it was slowing me down, but I was just becoming fearful of sharp pain coming on that wouldn’t allow me to finish.

With each passing mile, I kept saying aloud

“Just 5 miles left, God please sustain me…”

“Just 4 miles left, God please sustain me…”

“Just 3 miles left, God please sustain me…”

“Just 2 miles left, God please sustain me…”

Even with my shin pain and the heat, the last 6.2 miles were flying by, which has never happened for me in a marathon before. As soon as I hit my 25, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “I AM SO CLOSE.” As I got closer to the finish line, runners who had finished the 10k and the half came down to cheer us on on the final stretch leading up to the track. I just loved that! As I was approaching the track, I remember asking myself, “How many 200m repeats have you done in your life? What’s just one more?” I booked it, making my strides short and fast, just like I used to focus on back in the track days.

And before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line with both hands lifted up, looking up to the sky, and yelling “Thank You, JESUS!”

I could not help but smile. And smile BIG. I had a blast. I stayed mentally tough. I relied on God to carry me through, and He did. I was 8 minutes off my PR, but I didn’t care. I got out there, I ran whole-heartedly, and I did what I loved. And no time on the clock could ever take that away from me. In the grand scheme things, God has done so much for me in comparison to just helping me cross a finish line. But I think it’s awesome that He shows up in the big and the little things. He designed us with these passions and He takes delight and joy in seeing us pursuing them for His glory. My favorite part of long distance running is fighting and persevering through, when every nerve in your body is telling you to quit. In those times, I can experience God’s strength, endurance, and fortitude in full force.

Sometimes the best experiences happen when we feel under-prepared and unequipped. Sometimes we have to trust God’s will for our lives, even when it seems crazy or questionable, especially in the eyes of other people. Bayshore has been my favorite marathon yet. It forced me to surrender my performance to the Lord, which resulted in an unforgettable racing experience. I left Traverse City feeling full of joy and passionate for distance running, even without a PR. The time on the clock does not tell the whole story. I can do hard things with help from God, and have a blast while doing so! My husband toasted that he will run the 2019 Bayshore Marathon (which was pretty shocking), so Traverse City, we will back! Praise be to God for another 26.2 mile finish!

Ice bath in the Grand Traverse Bay!

Bayshore Marathon Training Weeks 5-7

Hey everyone! Three weeks closer to race day. I’m working hard and having fun while doing so. Based on the training plan I originally made, weeks 5-7 were supposed to be build up weeks, and week 8 was supposed to be a recovery week. However, my body had other plans. I went out for a run the Monday of week 7, and my hips were hurting, my legs felt like lead, and my body just felt exhausted. I promised myself that I would focus on recovery and training smart this training cycle, so I made week 7 my recovery week. My type A personality does not like to deviate from my training program, so I’m considering my decision to give my body what it needs a win! The easy paced and reduced mileage this past week was much needed, and I’m ready to tackle a 40 mile training week starting tomorrow.

Here are training recaps of weeks 5-7:

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #5 (February 26th-March 4th)
Monday: 5 easy miles at 8:44 pace. I was just coming off recovery week, and my legs felt fresh, so I went a little bit faster than my recovery pace.

Tuesday: 4 easy miles. I didn’t run with my Garmin, and ran for 37 minutes.

Wednesday: Speed work. I ran 3×10 minutes at half marathon pace with 2 min jog recovery between reps. Average pace on the splits were 7:34, 7:31, and 7:27. Definitely faster than my half marathon pace, but I really didn’t feel like I was pushing myself to the limits either. With warm up and cool down, it came out to be 7 miles total.

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: 5 miles at 8:28 pace. Again, faster than recovery pace, but I had a friend coming to visit for the weekend and had to squeeze the miles in before she arrived!

Saturday: Long run. 15 miles at 8:56 avg. Great run considering the amount of sweets I consumed the night before.

Sunday: 25 minutes of hip strengthening with my theraband. Added Nordic Hamstring Curls to the mix #feeltheburn !

Week 5 Total Mileage = 36 miles

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #6 (March 5th – March 11th)
Monday: 6 miles at 9:27 average. I love my Monday mornings off and starting them with a run

Tuesday: 4 easy miles at 9:02 average. Ran the first mile in a hailstorm and questioned my sanity. Luckily the hail let up for the last 3 miles.

Wednesday: Yasso 800s. 6 x 800 meters with 90 second rests. This workout always scares me, but once I press the start button on my Garmin, it seems to go by quickly. Splits were 3:36, 3:35, 3:35, 3:32, 3:32, and 3:23. The effort felt hard, but I ran the splits at a faster pace than expected. With warm up and cool down, it came out to be 7.5 miles.

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: 4.5 miles. My Garmin died at mile 4, so I ran a half mile back home and called it a night. Originally had 6 on the plan, but with a dead Garmin and an achy R hip flexor, 4.5 miles was good enough for me.

Saturday: 16 miles at 9:15 average. My husband ran the first 4 with me, which always seems to help break up the run. For whatever reason, my stomach got really upset once I hit mile 10. I ran the last 6 in close proximity to my apartment, just in case. I’m proud of myself for pushing through, because my stomach sure didn’t want to! Later in the day, my husband and I decided to go hiking. The hike was a little more aggressive than expected, so I decided to make it my “strength training” for the week. Not sure if it officially counts, but my quads were burning and I was breathing super hard climbing up the stairs and the large sand dunes!

Sunday: Rest Day.

Week 5 Total Mileage = 38 miles

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #7 (March 12th – March 18th) – Recovery Week

Monday: 4 miles at 9:35 average. I originally had 7 miles on the plan, but I felt completely off. My hips were hurting with every stride I took. This pace is slower than my normal recovery pace, yet I was struggling pretty hard. This was the run that made me realized I needed to take a recovery week.

Tuesday: 3 miles at 9:15 average. I ran this late at night with so much joy. I blasted worship music and sang out loud like a crazy person. My hips were still hurting, but I had a smile on my face the whole run.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles at 9:12 pace. I ran with my husband which made the run fly by. This run was fueled by the Moana Soundtrack 🙂

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: I still wanted to do a speed workout, despite it being recovery week, so I decided to do a  3 mile goal marathon pace run. My goal marathon pace is 8:23/mile. Ha! I really struggled to find the pace. I would totally overshoot when I tried to speed up and slow down in order to hit 8:23 pace. My splits ended up being 8:03, 8:03, and 8:08. This is not a workout where it’s considered a win if you run faster than goal pace. I plan to revisit this workout and do better next time. With warm up and cool down, it was 5.5 miles total.

Sometimes workouts just don’t go as planned!

Saturday: 12 miles at 8:59 average pace. I felt more like myself on this run and my hips felt significantly better. I just wish I would have hydrated better prior to running. I ended up taking my headband and gloves off at mile 3. I’m totally digging these warm temps!

Sunday: Strength day. Did my usual TRX Circuit followed by a 20 min glute and hip strength workout on the Nike Training App

Week 7 Total Mileage = 28 miles

Spiritual Check In: Being in the Word 5x/week has been a struggle for me! My husband is doing great though!

Prayer Request: Continued commitment to being in the word. And so that I prioritize my spiritual training over my marathon training.

Praises: My husband and I are LOVING our new church. It is an off-site location of a major church in our city, so the close-knit community has made it feel like a family. We meet new friends each week when we go to church, which is something neither of us have ever experienced at churches we have attended in the past.

I would be honored to pray for you, so please reach out with any requests!
Love,
Meghan

Running Past Anxiety

I’ve been asked countless times why I run marathons and with a laugh I’ll respond, “For my own sanity.”

Even though I say those words in a joking manner, my response is true. Running has done wonders for my mental health and my personal growth. To me, it’s not just a sport; it’s a way of life.

Anxiety is a battle I face daily. I used to be filled with shame for not having an excuse or reason for my anxiety. I have never experienced any significant trauma in my life. I had a great childhood and have always had a healthy family life. So where was all this anxiety stemming from? It just didn’t add up. However, I’ve stopped trying to justify my anxious thoughts and feelings. I have chosen to confront and overcome them instead.

From what I can remember, high school is when everything began to spiral out of control. I began to develop panic attacks. I remember feeling struck and overcome by overwhelming thoughts. I’d end up kneeling on the floor and would begin uncontrollably (or so I thought at the time) hyperventilating until I became light-headed and my fingers began to tingle. I never knew when they would come on or what would trigger them. My senior year, the dean of students would meet with me in order to sort through my thoughts and to teach me how to cope. I felt hopeless. I felt like I had absolutely no control over my life. At the time, I was sick to my stomach daily. My doctor at the time told me this was likely due to my anxiety and that once I got it under control, my stomach aches would let up. But the more I tried to control my anxiety, the worse it got. (Fun fact: a couple years down the road, I would learn that I have Celiac’s Disease, and an easy diet change would solve my stomach problems 🙂 ).

My junior year of college, was probably the worst my anxiety ever got. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, in tears, and feeling sick to my stomach. I was a 20 year old college student calling her dad at 3am to help calm her down. I was stressed with my schoolwork and was afraid at the thought of starting graduate school the following year. I felt like my time was consumed with being on the cross-country and track teams. I loved my teammates, but for the first time in my life running was consistently becoming something that I had to do not wanted to do. Since starting cross-country in fifth grade, I always loved racing and being on the team, and couldn’t imagine my life without it. However that year, I could continuously see my heart just wasn’t in the sport anymore.

So I quit. I knew it was the right decision when I began to pursue other activities on campus, spend time with new friends, and to my surprise, love running again.

Wait what?

I thought I would run less upon quitting the team.  But I was wrong. Without someone telling me where, when, and how fast I should be running, I felt free and in control. Running once again became my stress reliever and my “me time.” Since I was running so much, I decided to sign up for a marathon. That decision changed my life.

Signing up for my first marathon was terrifying. My anxiety was there to remind me of all the things that could possibly go wrong. Can I really run a 26.2 mile race? Heck, can I even do a 15 mile training run?

Even though I was terrified, the challenge fueled my fire and made me more committed to my training than ever. Each week of training I would try a new speed workout, run a further distance for my long run, and inch one week closer to race day. Marathon training helped me to see myself as strong, capable, and determined. Even though I was afraid, I ran like I was fearless. Week after week, as I faced new challenges, I continuously proved my worries and doubts wrong. My confidence was becoming greater than it ever had been before. I got to the point where even though I’d be anxious, I no longer doubted my ability to rise up and meet my challenges in training.

Crossing my first marathon finish line is a feeling I will never forget. It was a moment where I finally saw all my anxious thoughts for what they actually were: just plain lies. You’re not strong enough. You’re not tough enough. Your body isn’t good enough. You don’t have what it takes. How could I believe any of those lies about myself after running 26.2 miles? That’s why the marathon keeps bringing me back. It has helped me realize that I can still chase after my dreams and do the great things God wants me to do, despite my anxiety. The best part? This realization does not just apply to running. It applies to every aspect of life – my marriage, my living situation, my relationships with others, my career, and everything in between.

Running has made me brave. It has helped me realize that I can do hard things even when I’m afraid. To this day, I still find marathons scary. Even 15+ mile training runs still make me nervous. Yet here I am, training for marathon #4. I’m not just brave enough to run marathons. I am brave enough to feel in control of my thoughts, feelings, and reactions. I am brave enough to keep persevering and staying strong, even when I feel like I’m ready to fall apart. One of my favorite running mantras is “be comfortable in the uncomfortable.” I love this mantra because staying in our comfort zones causes us to become complacent and stagnant. Embracing the uncomfortable is how we improve and grow. This is true both in running and in life. In this current season of my life, there are times I feel very uncomfortable – but it’s such a blessing. At my new job, I am working in two different settings, one that is familiar and one that is not so familiar. But working in a not so familiar setting allows me to be challenged, to use certain PT skills I wouldn’t be able to use otherwise, and to work with a more diverse group of patients. Being uncomfortable in my career is not a bad thing; it means I am growing, learning, and bettering myself. If I would have let my anxiety make my career decisions for me, there is no way I would have tried a different work setting. I refuse to let my anxiety stop me from living the life that God has planned for me.

Running is a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual journey. Through running, I have gained confidence that has poured out into my marriage, my relationships with others, and my career. But, I want to be straightforward, running has not healed me; God has. God is the ultimate Healer and He breaks the chains of fear, doubt, and worry. I believe He gave me running as an outlet to process my thoughts and feelings, and to teach me that He has made me strong, tough, and brave.

If I’m being honest, I still am a huge worrier, and my high-strung Type-A personality is still as present as ever. I realistically may have anxiety for the rest of my life. But anxiety doesn’t rule my life anymore. God has freed me from panic attacks. God has lifted the reigns that anxiety once had on my life. Even with anxiety, I choose bravery everyday. I am forever thankful that God gave running such a pivotal role in my journey of conquering anxiety. Praise God!

In a world where we are encouraged to make ourselves look as great possible, to hide our wounds, and to always show our best selves, I think it’s more important to be vulnerable, share your story, and give hope. If you are struggling with anxiety or know someone who is, please feel free to reach out. I’d be honored to hear your story and would love to chat with you and pray for you!

Thanks for reading!

Love, Meghan

She Didn’t Treat Me like Her Project; She Treated Me like a Person

Have you ever been super surprised by someone? Maybe you thought you had someone figured out, and you end up just being blown away with how off the mark you were.

I know I have been. I’m thankful for the friend I was off the mark about, because it ended up changing my life for the better.
My sophomore year of college, I was placed on the same dorm floor as a friend I had made freshman year in Spanish class. She was very sweet, and you didn’t have to talk to her long before you knew she loved Jesus. She held leadership on our campus’s Christian organization, and led Bible studies.

During sophomore year, I wanted to “live a little” and was involved in a lot of partying and drinking. On top of drinking was poor dating choices. I was a hot mess, to say the least. One day, my friend from Spanish class knocked on my door, and suggested that we meet weekly, which eventually turned into a book study.

In the beginning, I was intimidated. I didn’t want to even meet with her.

She’s going to think I’m a TERRIBLE person.

She cannot possibly understand what I am struggling with.

She is going to judge me to my core.

Despite my fears, I met with her weekly.

And wow.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about her.

She met me right where I was at in life and just sought to understand and listen. I felt very comfortable opening up to her after a few weeks. I didn’t have to bring out my “Sunday best” to gain her acceptance. I could be raw, honest, and real, and she accepted me without judgement.

She knew I would stumble back to my dorm hammered on weekends. She knew my poor dating choices. She knew the image I was trying to maintain for myself on the outside didn’t match the image I had of myself on the inside.

But she still wanted to be my friend anyways.

I asked myself, “Why would someone like her want to be friends with someone like me?” This girl had SO many Christian friends who were so much more like her. At the time I honestly didn’t know how much I needed Jesus. But I knew I needed a friend like her. Meeting with her was almost therapeutic. I slowly began to realize the lifestyle I was living was only making me feel more empty and lonely. My lack of joy was only increasing by trying to find it in all the wrong places.

She didn’t treat me like her project; she treated me like a person. She didn’t see me as a person to fix, she saw me as a dear friend.

In her eyes, I was someone with a pure heart and good intentions. Someone who wanted to love and be loved. Someone who wanted so badly to fit in with others, and would do whatever it took to get there. Someone who was broken inside but would make sure nobody found out.

It wasn’t a message or a sentence that truly made me want to follow Jesus. It was this person. A person who saw me for all that I was and wasn’t, and still wanted to be my friend. A person who knew my mess ups and mistakes, but still saw me as whole, worthy, and fulfilled. A person who didn’t worry about what all her other friends would think of her for hanging out with someone like me.

Does this friend of mine remind you of anyone in particular? 😉

JESUS!

Yes, Jesus. He is the ultimate best friend.

My friend didn’t just tell me about Jesus, she showed me Jesus.

No, it wasn’t her ability to recite a whole chapter of the bible purely from memorization or having the perfectly worded speech on why I should follow Jesus that made me want to pursue the Lord. It was her demonstration of Jesus’s passion for loving people fiercely, knowing instead of judging others, and befriending all people, even those who others may deem unworthy. This was the start to my journey of following Jesus. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it was about 2-3 years after that before I truly decided to prioritize my faith and live the life Jesus wanted me to. But the journey had to start somewhere. And this friend helped me get to the starting line.

I’m thankful I was so off the mark with my judgement and assumptions regarding this friend. She taught me so much and led me to Jesus. I knew she wanted to witness to me and to share Jesus with me. That was pretty obvious. But those were not her only goals. She wanted to be my friend. Even if I never would have committed to following Christ, she wouldn’t have viewed our friendship as in vain. She genuinely loved me and cared for me. She walked with me in a messy season of life. She kept my secrets and helped me sort through my thoughts and actions without fear of judgement. She chose to do life with me and hang out with me when she already had so many other close friends who were more like her. She demonstrated Jesus’s command to make disciples, without making me feel like a project or a task on her Christian to-do list.

I’m moved by the impact she has made on my life and how God used her in my story. And it comes full circle. Now it is my turn to get out of my comfort zone and be a friend to those who are lost, confused, and feeling empty. I know what it’s like to feel unfilled and to chase after the wrong things in life just for some sort of transient happiness. Friendship is powerful. Feeling known, loved, and accepted is something everyone seeks. God has the capability of doing some of His Mighty Work through friendships.

God sent me an angel during my dark time, and it’s about time I be a light for someone, too.

Bayshore Marathon Training Weeks 3 & 4

Hey everyone! I honestly can’t believe it’s already going to be March this upcoming week. Based on the weather in Michigan, I think spring might be coming a little early this year! Within the past 2 weeks, temps have increased into the 30-50s so it’s been just wonderful to run outside without having to be excessively bundled up or without body parts going numb! It has been super rainy here too, which doesn’t bother me. I just put a hat and raincoat on and I’m out the door! I’m officially 13 weeks out from the Bayshore Marathon. My body is adapting and getting stronger. One month of marathon training down.

In other news, I’m super excited to be an ambassador for Momentum Jewelry! Their jewelry is uplifting and empowering, which is why I love the brand so much. I’m normally not a huge jewelry fan since I find it gets in the way when I am treating patients or when I’m running. Momentum is the exception. Their jewelry is super comfy, light, and soft, making it perfect for the active individual. Not to mention all their products are super cute!

Here are training recaps of weeks 3-4:

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #3 (February 12th-February 18th)
Monday: 4 easy miles at 9:10 pace. It was still snowy on the trails, so I ran loops around our apartment complex’s parking lot so I didn’t have to brave the snow.

Tuesday: Strength Day. I started with 60 deep squats and 30 lunges per leg using the TRX bands. Then I went to the Nike Training App and completed two workouts: Glute and Hip Strength and Core Crunch 2.0.

Wednesday: 5 easy miles at 9:12 average for Valentine’s Day! I was sure sore from Tuesday’s workout…

Thursday: Long Run was 13 miles at 8:55 average. This week was my weekend shift at work, so I had Thursday off. It always feels weird doing a long run on a weekday, but marathon training always has to be flexible. I ran this with a heavy heart with all that is happening in our country. I’m thankful to have running as an outlet and as a time to process the hard realities.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Speed work. To be honest, I’m winging this training cycle in terms of speed workouts and weekly mileages, so I didn’t have a specific speed workout planned for the week. Woops. The first thing to pop in my head was to run 3 miles hard without looking at my watch. I tend to freak out and stare at my watch when I set pace goals for myself on speed workouts. So I thought by not looking at my watch, I could still run hard without all my excessive worrying. My Garmin vibrates at each mile, so that’s how I kept track of the miles. At the end of the run, I checked my splits and was honestly shocked. Splits were 7:03, 7:04, and 7:02. I’ve never ran that fast in any of my marathon training speed workouts so I couldn’t believe it. The effort felt hard, but not that hard. I never would have challenged myself to run that fast intentionally, so it felt great to know what my body is truly capable of. With warm up and cool down, it was 5 miles total.

Sunday: 5 easy miles at 9:16 average

Week 3 Total Mileage = 32 miles

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #4 (February 19th-February 25th)
Recovery Week
Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 4 easy miles at 9:04 average. Temps were in the 50s so that meant I busted out the shorts. Running in shorts in February in Michigan is just a treat. It was super rainy, but I couldn’t have been happier.

Wednesday: 3 easy miles at 9:14 average.

Thursday: 4 easy miles at 9:19 average. I considered doing a short speed workout, but decided to keep things easy this week. My body needs the rest, especially as I am preparing to ramp up my mileage in the coming weeks.

Friday: 4 miles at 9:35 average.

Saturday: 10 miles at 8:44 average. For whatever reason, I felt sluggish, and mentally this run seemed to go by so slowly. Our local Gazelle Sports was having their Spring Running Kicking off and “Run Across Michigan” challenge. I submitted my 10 miles and resultantly got 10% off my purchase! Such a great idea.

Sunday: Rest Day. Normally today would be my strength day, but I promised myself 2 rest days during this recovery week.

Week 4 Total Mileage = 25 miles
Ready for Week 5!!!

Spiritual Check In: Thanks to all those who prayed for our small group. God is at work in our group! Friendships are being formed and strengthened. Thank You, Jesus!
Prayer Request: My husband and I are setting a goal for being in the Word 5x/week. We have a tendency of being really dedicated for a short while, then falling off the train completely. Prayers for commitment to this goal would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!
I would be honored to pray for you, so please reach out with any requests!
Love,
Meghan

A New Training Cycle! Bayshore Marathon Training Weeks 1 & 2

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Hey everyone! I am officially two weeks into Bayshore Marathon Training! Only 15 more weeks to go until race day! I spent January gradually building up my weekly mileage and the length of my long runs. I officially began training on January 29th. This is my first time training for a spring marathon, and I can already tell it is going to be tough. I have previously only run in fall marathons, therefore all my training was completed in the summertime. My previous training cycles were a blast; I think I have had more fun training than racing if I’m being completely honest! I was motivated throughout the training cycles, I looked forward to my daily runs more than anything, and running was my “happy place.” Training just gave me all the feels!

Now that I am training amidst a Midwest winter, with freezing temps, snow, cold winds, and darkness, I’ve found that my motivation is not as strong as it was in my summer training cycles. Sometimes I have to literally force myself to get out the door to face the cold. This is the time of year where I just wish I could hibernate until summer!

So no, I’m not the most motivated to train right now. But I’m extremely motivated and excited to race in 3.5 months. And because of that, I’m committed to my training. Commitment is what gets my mileage logged and my workouts complete, even if sometimes it’s a fight out the door. Commitment is telling my body, “I don’t care if you don’t want to go outside, you ARE going outside to run!” My mental toughness gets tested each day. My commitment is more important than my motivation. Once I’m out the door, I’m happy and back in my element, regardless of the conditions outside. The harsh winter weather is only making me tougher and stronger. When I’m running in beautiful northern Michigan at the end of May, I will be glad I put in the hard work in the brutal conditions.

This training cycle, I’m making a few tweaks. I learned from my mistakes in my last training cycle and am ready to put forth my best efforts for Bayshore. First, recovery is going to be a HUGE emphasis in my training. In my last training cycle, I didn’t take it easy enough in my weekly mileage. I only took one recovery week throughout the entire training cycle. So by the time it got to race day, my legs were spent. Recovery is just as important as the hard days and the long runs. So with the exception of speed workout days and my long runs, all other training runs will be at run >9 min pace. For me, this is truly an easy and comfortable pace. My long runs will be at whatever pace my body feels like going at. I’m not going to hold back my pace, but I’m not going to push hard or over-exert myself either. My long run pace may be 8:35 pace or 9:30 pace. It’s up to my body. Every fourth week of training will be a recovery week, and every third long run will be shorter.

I am adding in resistance training once a week to keep my hips and core strong. This is imperative for injury prevention. I also plan to attempt a higher peak weekly mileage. My last training cycle, my peak weekly mileage was 43 miles. My goal for peak mileage is 50-55 miles, if my body will allow it. Since most of my runs will be at an easy pace, I think my body will be capable of handling more. This will be trial and error, and I’ll cut down on my weekly mileage if I feel that it is necessary.

Here is a recap of weeks 1 & 2 of training:

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #1 (January 29th-February 4th)

Monday: 3 easy treadmill miles. I was having some R Achilles pain last week, so I took out my old squished heel lift and added a fresh new one and BOOM. My Achilles felt great. Also, I never know my average pace when I run on the treadmill because I’m constantly adjusting it!

Tuesday: 3 easy treadmill miles

Wednesday: Speed work! 1.25 miles x 2 reps with 5 minute jog rest. Since this was my first speed work out since last September and with my R Achilles feeling stiff last week, I knew I needed to ease back in. My goal for the reps was 8 min pace (not an all-out effort, but faster than the paces I’ve been running recently). Splits were 7:55 pace and 7:52 pace. It didn’t feel taxing or challenging. I felt strong, enjoyed running at a faster pace, and focused on my form. The path was cleared from snow, which was a relief. I loved this run! With warm up and cool down, it was 6 miles total.

Thursday: Rest Day. I came home from work and I just felt mentally and physically exhausted. I decided to make this my day off.

Friday: 3 easy treadmill miles

Saturday: Long Run Day! 10 miles at 8:39 average. It was cold and windy – but my wonderful husband bribed me with gluten free chocolate chip pancakes at the end, so that was my motivation!

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Sunday: Strength Day! Did some hip strengthening with my theraband, because PT’s love therabands 😉

Week 1 Total Mileage = 25 miles

Bayshore Marathon Training Week #2 (February 5th – February 11th)

Monday: 3 miles at 9:08 pace. It was 15 degrees out, but NO WIND! So it actually felt much warmer!

Tuesday: 3 miles at 9:17 avg. This run was just beautiful, it looked like a winter wonderland. Again, there was no wind, so it felt much warmer than 19 degrees!

Wednesday: Speed work! 1 mile x 3 reps with 3 min jog rest breaks. Splits were 7:37, 7:25, and 7:43. This workout was just frustrating! Our town has a snowmelt system for the sidewalks and roads downtown, so I chose to run there since all of our trails were completely covered in snow. My goal was between 7:40-7:45 pace, but I had trouble finding that pace and went WAY too fast on the second rep. The problem with running downtown is people take up the entire sidewalk and a lot of cars don’t scan to see if people are crossing the roads (I witnessed some pretty close calls between cars and pedestrians crossing the road when they had the walk symbol!) So needless to say I was super cautious running across the street and across parking lot entrances/exits. I had to abruptly stop a couple times due to these types of drivers. I’m going to give myself a lot of grace when it comes to these speed workouts in the winter; all I can do is my best, whether I’m running intervals on a snowy path or I’m trying to dodge pedestrians and cars downtown. I’m super excited for the weather to warm up, so I can get back to running these speed workouts on the trail or in neighborhoods!

Thursday: Rest day. Same as last week, I just needed a break.

Friday: 5 snowy miles at 9:26 pace.

Saturday: 11 miles at 9:01 pace. My hubby joined me for the last 3, which gave me just the boost I needed!

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Sunday: Strength Day! I did Full Body Strength Yoga (37 min) on the Nike Training App. Man was I wobbly! Did the workout with my hubby, and we had the Olympics highlights in the background! I was challenged and it was a great change from my normal strength routines. And I’m always inspired watching the Olympics!

Week 2 Total Mileage = 28 miles

Bring on week 3!

Prayer Request: My husband and I just joined a new group at church, so prayers that friendships can be formed and we can all grow together in Christ! Also, commitment to staying in the Word.

Please feel free to reach out and let me know how I can pray for you, how training is going, or how life in general is going! I would love to chat!

Thanks for reading!

Love, Meghan

Sharing Your Faith When You’re Afraid of What Others May Think

When I first started this blog, I was scared. It took me months to sign up for a Word Press account.
I was scared for a couple reasons, but my biggest fear: What would people think of me?
I was afraid of being judged. Afraid of being seen as weird. Afraid of my words being misinterpreted. Afraid of coming across as a Jesus-freak.

Eventually, the tug in my heart to start this blog was greater than my fears, and I haven’t looked back since. Once I took this leap of faith, I felt empowered and brave doing the Lord’s work despite my fears. God has given me a passion to write, and it’s been a blast sharing what He is doing in my life and what He is teaching me in my blog posts. This past year has been a tremendous year of growth for me. I am much more focused on what God thinks of me and on doing His work.

Fearing what other people thought of me used to be debilitating. It’s one of Satan’s tactics. He will do whatever it takes to stop us from doing God’s work. I think we all struggle with this fear in one way or another. Sure, we all have our own insecurities, which do play a role in this. But I think at the most basic level, this fear stems from our basic humanness. We were built to want to connect and live in community with other people. We seek acceptance and love. Some more than others, but still. We weren’t meant to do life alone.

We took a test at work to find what our primary driver is; what makes us react the strongest in both positive and negative situations. What was mine? Relatedness. Being able to relate, connect, and bond with others is my primary driver. Relatedness was far more important to me than the other domains, which were autonomy, status, fairness, or certainty. And it’s so true. My family and friends mean the world to me. My coworkers eventually end up getting called “my work friends.” Having good relationships with my patients is something I strive for. I love making new friends. I truly cherish my relationships and I work hard to maintain them. But when I am disconnected or cut off in a relationship, I shut down and it bothers me a lot more than it should. I have a hard time giving second chances and am extremely cautious proceeding with a friendship after I am deeply hurt.

So for me, I think that is where my fear of what others think comes into play. What if my actions or my words change what people think of me? What if they don’t like the new “me” that God is molding me into? What if it ends up leading to a distancing of a friendship? I’ll be honest, while I am growing in this area, these are still real fears of mine. I can either choose to be paralyzed by those fears (what Satan wants), or choose to kick Satan’s butt and be brave. The choice is up to me.

I know I can’t do this on my own strength. I always start by praying, “God, I’m scared but please give me the courage to____!” I’ve prayed and spent a good chunk of time thinking and dissecting this fear of mine. God has taught me A LOT. Here are some of the perspectives, considerations, and reality checks He has given me to help me choose to be brave and share my faith:

1. I imagine at the end of my life, standing face to face with God. He says, “I wanted to use you to further My kingdom, to reach these people, and to take part in these cool plans I had for you. But you were too afraid of what people would think, so you missed out.” I already know I’ve missed out on opportunities that He has had to use me. I’ve been too afraid, too busy, too complacent, etc. I don’t want to be “too anything” to be missing out on all the cool work God has prepared for me. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God wants to use me for His Good. I just have to let Him.

 
2. It is my calling and probably one of my most important duties as a follower of Christ to share God’s truth with all people. When somebody tells me that one of my blog posts has blessed them, encouraged them, or challenged them, that means so much more to me than anyone’s pesky opinion of me ever could. God calls us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and to spur on one another in love and good deeds (Hebrew 10:24). People are waiting to be reached!

 
3. God’s opinion of me is enough for me. I am loved, known, and created by God in totality. I have been brought to fullness through Christ (Colossians 2:10). I’m proud of the woman who He made me to be. Compared to God’s opinion of me, everybody else’s opinion is so irrelevant. I may not be everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. If I constantly try and fit in with everybody else, it takes away from my uniqueness and distracts me from doing His work.

 
4. In 100+ years, realistically no one will know my name. They won’t know my career successes, my marathon PRs, my reputation, nothing. What I build up for myself and treasure on this Earth will eventually go to the grave with me when I die. But what I build up and treasure for Christ’s Kingdom has an eternal impact. Other people have the potential to give their lives to Christ and spend eternity in Heaven based on what I choose to do in this life. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But more store up for yourselves and treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21.

 
5. I’ve been ridiculed and teased for following and pursuing Jesus. It can be hurtful and frustrating. I rest on this verse, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” – John 15:18. I will defend my faith, but I refuse to argue or put down others who don’t see eye to eye with me. Jesus instructed His disciples to leave if people didn’t listen to them or welcome them (Matthew 10:14). I choose to do the same.

 

6. I have the best family and friends. They are fun, supportive, and bring so much joy and meaning into my life. The cool part? They are all so different. They have all different views on faith, religion, family, careers, relationships, marriage, politics, dreams, goals, fears, lifestyles, etc. And guess what? I think that’s great. If I only hung out with people who thought just like me and did things exactly how I do them, I probably wouldn’t have a single friend, and I’d be missing out on loving and doing life with some of the greatest people in the world. My fears of these treasured people rejecting me are absurd. If they see me as less of a person or as less of a friend for following Jesus, they aren’t my real friends. They may disagree with me or even be disappointed with how I have chosen to follow Jesus or where I choose to go to church. I’m okay with that. I am confident in my relationships with my friends and family, that our love for each other will always be greater than our differences. My lifelong friends are a testimony to this!

 
7. I take for granted my opportunity to share my faith and love the Lord without fear of persecution, imprisonment, or death. Because those are legitimate fears for other Christians around the world. That is true persecution, and it’s heartbreaking. It convicts me to my core knowing some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have their lives at stake, while I am over here worrying what other people may think of me. Their bravery and commitment to following Jesus despite the risk of being killed humbles me. No matter what we may face for following Jesus, big or small, we are NEVER without hope. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – Matthew 5:11

If you are struggling with this or you can relate, please feel free to message me! I would love to chat and pray for you! Thanks for reading!

Love, Meghan