I'm not a runner. Honestly, I hate to run.
When I was in college, one of my friends suggested that I start running with her. She'd been running for years. I thought I'd give it a try and told her that I would have to start pretty slowly. Let me tell you, to put it nicely, it kicked my butt. I was able to keep up with my friend, but I noticed that I had to focus nearly all my energy on breathing in and out. I found it amusing that, while we would run, my friend would chat. Finally one day I told her that I absolutely didn't mind listening, but I would be a terrible conversationalist during our runs! I found it impossible to keep up my end of the conversation while gasping for air.
If any of you are runners out there, please don't be hard on me! I did my best to try to hang with my friend who obviously had more experience than I did. She knew what she was doing! I didn't, and I never quite caught on. We eventually quit running together (probably due to our schedules more than my dislike for it), and besides the occasional game of chase with my nephews, I haven't run for the sake of running since. I admire those who do it, but it's really not my thing. Truthfully, I've never been much of an athlete by any stretch of the imagination.
Figuratively speaking, however, I'm a runner alright. I'm a veritable track star.
Many times I run to escape my problems. Right now I'm running from seeing my fertility specialist. I haven't set foot in his office in a year and a half. We're supposed to be "trying again." But after all these months have passed with no change, I have become more and more afraid. So, I'm running. Every day I think about picking up the phone to make an appointment, but every day I find a reason not to. Maybe this will be the month that it happens again -- that we get pregnant and it actually sticks. You see, up until now we haven't sought a doctor's help to get to that point. My problem is with miscarriage. But now that pregnancy won't come, for whatever reason, I feel stuck. I feel afraid. I don't know what to do, which direction to go. So I've been avoiding it. Even worse, I'm afraid of someday hearing that we may never overcome this. This is a hard thing for me to admit to you today, but it's true.
I'm also running a race of endurance. I recently read something that compared infertility to a marathon. It is long and it is challenging. It feels like it may never end. I would almost prefer a sprint, I think, which is more intense but far shorter. This is my eighth year of running, and yes, I've been lapped many, many times. Sometimes I want to quit because it seems so hard and I wonder if I'll ever reach the finish line or achieve the goal.
Sometimes I feel less like a runner and more like a spectator. Others around me are running while I'm standing still. And some days I take on the role of a cheerleader, encouraging others who are pursuing their goal and rejoicing with them when they reach it. While I'm honored to be in that position whenever possible, there's no denying that it's hard and it's painful. It hurts to be the one left behind, the one still waiting and still running.
While I think the race analogy is a pretty accurate one in many ways, I'm not entirely comfortable with using it in terms of winning and losing. I certainly don't view my life as one big race to have a baby, while competing with my peers for one ultimate prize. In fact, I don't consider it my one and only goal in life to have children. While it may be my desire, my passion, and my dream, it is not all that I live for. If I never get there, I don't consider myself a loser or my life a waste. If I never become a parent, I am still a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. Above and beyond all of that, I'm a child of God.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.