Today’s team journal is written by our Communications Director, Tiffani Decker.
Growing up, most things I tried came easily to me. Things that wouldn’t, or I thought wouldn’t come easy, I avoided. One of the things I tended to avoid was sports. Yeah, I tried softball for a few years - until I grew tall enough that I had enough of a strike zone to be struck out a lot. Then I quit.
I played soccer for a few years, but when I felt like I wasn’t very good at that, I quit, too. I don’t like pain. I don’t like the prospect of failing. That’s why I didn’t try for many scholarships. I am a decent essay writer and had a lot of good qualifications on paper that would qualify me for those scholarships, yet I stayed away because what if I tried and didn’t get it. How would I look then?
That’s me - I go for what I know I can get - but usually keep the limit there because I don’t like to fail.
Last October, I decided to try for a goal that had floated around in my head as some admirable to do. Running a half marathon. Now, I am not a runner. At that point, running two miles or so was a good goal for me. I knew I needed something to push me physically or else I wouldn’t exercise consistently. It was around this time I began to realize how often I back down when the going gets tough. Combining this realization with desiring a goal that would motivate me, I decided to sign up for the Indy Mini. It was six months away. From what I heard, it was relatively flat and pretty fun as there were typically lots of people and acts out on the path cheering you along.
I trained, and I trained. Then, I trained some more. My athletic trainer of a sister held me accountable - writing my training plans and frequently asking me when I was going to run. She endured my complaining, whining, and adjusting of her plans. And yet, she kept encouraging me. Then the day came. May 4th. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the date early enough to adapt my wardrobe like a good Star Wars fan might. I ate a small breakfast like I typically would before a long run. My sister tapped my knees, and we headed off to my starting point.
Eventually, the race started and right as I was about to cross the start line it started to rain. It rained the entire time! I never trained in the rain. I planned my long runs around the rain. By mile 3, there was water in my phone case, so my music wouldn’t play loud enough for me to hear. I always listened to music when I ran! Now, I had no voice coming on my ears to tune into, to encourage me, to help me forget what I was doing. At the end of mile 5, I looked at my watch, and it did not say I ran 5 miles. No, it said I ran 5.86 miles. I had used the watch the ENTIRE time I trained to track my distance and time. That meant my long runs were not as long as I had thought, and my pace was slower than I thought.
During the Indy Mini, around mile 6, the course enters the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I thought it would be awesome - you know, this famous race track. No, I was one of the hardest parts for me. Why? First, they have this amazing stretch they called the Golden Mile to honor fallen soldiers. As a military wife who was tired and wet, I couldn’t look at the posters for the first half because I knew I would start crying,and I was NOT going to cry when I was running because I needed to breath. Second, you were not allowed to eat any supplements while on the race track. When I had trained, around mile 7, I would usually eat one to get the burst of energy I needed at that point. There I was - tired, wet, emotional, and I couldn’t consume what was in my little fanny pack that I knew would give me energy. So I moved to the right side. It’s where the cheerleaders were - out there in the rain, sometimes giving out high fives, sometimes shouting out encouraging words, sometimes calling each runner by name (our names were on our bibs.) I positioned myself to receive words of life.
There was something about those girls cheering me on by name that gave me life for the speedway.
“Way to go, Tiffani.”
“You are strong, Tiffani.”
“Tiffani, you’ve got this. You’ve already won.”
They (and the thought of my kids) literally are the reason I kept running. They believed in me. They saw it wasn’t easy for me, yet I wanted it so bad. They knew I needed someone in my corner cheering me on to persevere - when I was tired, wet, discouraged, disappointed, and wanting to quit. This is what our Heavenly Father does. He sees us as we run this race. He sees us when we are down. He sees us when we don’t think we have much left. He sees us when we aren’t sure if we can persevere. He sees us when we want to take the easier route. But if we pay close attention, He is ever cheering us on.
“You are strong through my power, daughter.”
Our races may not look how we thought they would,or hoped they would be, yet may we still run for the finish line - encouraging fellow racers as we go.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever’.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
“Daughter, you’ve got this. Hang on. The end is near. You are already a victor.”
“I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.” 1 John 5:4 (ESV)
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV)
So sister, hang on - keep running your race. He is cheering you on. Let His voice be louder than the voice in your head! Let His strength and energy catapult you into the next part of your journey. Turn His words into your words for you to pass onto another sister running this race who may need to hear them. Our races may not look how we thought they would,or hoped they would be, yet may we still run for the finish line - encouraging fellow racers as we go.
Tiffani Decker wants to live in a world where she can find the perfect planner, read all day in a hammock, and stay up late playing board games. When she's not chasing her two rambunctious children, you can find her trying to figure out the next home project.
Her favorite Scripture is always changing, but is currently Isaiah 55.