A Gift Not Needed But Much Appreciated

"We were doing well until you came along." The comment threw me off tonight as I ran past a duo of ladies walking briskly together. They had been ahead of me for a small stretch, and my internal monologue upon approach was all about how happy I was that they had one another's companionship and how proud of these strangers I felt for getting out there in the 20 degree cold to exercise their lungs. The comment she made was not malicious. I know this. It came from a place of competition, a dark shade of personal inadequacy, a hurt locker of shame. My response? A genuine and heartfelt, "You two are doing great. Enjoy the time together!" I didn't look back to note their response.

The interaction prompted me to engage deeply in reflection, and I am thankful for it. See, I do not run for competition with anyone, except maybe myself. There is no judgment when I encounter someone on my path moving slower than I or surge of adrenaline when a person exceeds me. This is true in races as well. The thought of my run pace over this pair's walk cadence being a source of embarrassment bums me out. I do not run (or post about running) to make anyone feel less about their efforts. Instead, my mission in posting is truly about something bigger. To inspire. Share my story. Hope someone out there thinks, "If she can do it, so can I." or "If running has helped her get through so much, maybe it will do the same for me."

Since my last post, I have set out on 30 more run adventures. All of these outings have been saturated with my own thoughts. No distractions from music, podcasts, audiobooks. Each run has been unique, and some have been harder to get to than others. Those close to me know that I have had a harder time adjusting to this change of season than previous winters. It's the darkness. Though I cannot pinpoint exact reasons, some mornings have really challenged my desire to lace up. However, I never regret getting out. Ever. What keeps me going on this streak?

I received the answer so vividly tonight that I had to share it widely. What started me on this streak is far from what keeps me going. After years of reflection, I now know my early running was an escape. I needed to make space for myself because I was so out of balance that I didn't even know who Sarah was anymore. Over time, running became the only thing I could control in a chapter characterized by storms. Now, I know the running is a gift. A true gift to me.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I have much for which I can be thankful. Tonight, I write about the ability to keep this streak alive. It's more than the streak though. There is a deep and true sense of gratitude that I can even continue in it every day. Rain or shine. Snow or thunder. If I am being real, to be healthy enough to be out there every day seems to be nothing short of a small miracle. And so I treat it as such. As long as I am able, this habit will absolutely continue. Because I can.

Given the fact that my chances of injury with such frequency are high, I consider myself fortunate to be able to propel out the door. Considering I run in the dark on streets, I note that I am one distracted driver away from danger. Awareness of my mortality and fragility sets upon me every time I go out, but I am not paralyzed in any way by fear.

The biggest epiphany of my reflection tonight is that I do not need the run. After 1230 days of running, I could leave it. There have been months I did not believe that. In the weeks after my brother's death, or on days when my emotions were shipwrecked, I thought I needed the run. Recent weeks have taught me that I need nothing. The minute we begin to believe we need anything in this life short of air and food/water, we are sunk.

Tonight, I knew I needed to write this post to fortify the truth so loudly resounding in my spirit. I do not need running. It's hard to utter this next statement, but a deep truth is couched within. I cannot need my daughters. My husband. My parents. My career. My friends. My (fill-in-the-blank). These are all illusory and easily taken. Just like running, all the possessions or people we believe belong to us are all a life tragedy or decision away from being lost to us.

So, with them and running, I choose to be thankful and take every opportunity to engage. I give praise and thanks for the gift of the ability to run. My heartfelt gratitude rises high in prayer to show thankfulness for the love of my beautiful daughters, husband, family, friends, career, passions, hobbies.

The next time someone asks me if I am crazy because I run every day or expresses a feeling of inferiority by comparison, my earnest hope is that I can articulate this gratitude in my response. Because I can. While I can. As long as I can. I will be thankful for what is not needed but so very much appreciated.

May you all find comfort in the gratitude of what you do not need but choose to be thankful for and receive as true gifts.


  1. I wish my boys could be thankful for the same things you mentioned in you post. God Bless.


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