Welcome to this installment in the series JOURNEY: FINDING FAITH IN RUNNING, a series focused on taking a candid look at life through the lens of a runner. But not just any running journey – one that focuses on marrying the run with the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.
How can we find Christ in the midst of an easy run? Or a grueling run? Or a run after weeks or months after an injury or a break due to life circumstances? Ink Slinger Randi (the Runner) will take us through her own journey of running, going back almost two full decades.
We know that pain and suffering have divine purpose. Perhaps you have been a runner for many years – or maybe you have just started taking up running. What better way to take that suffering and repurpose it for Christ.
Jesus wants us to know Him. He desires our hearts. He desperately calls us to Him. He calls us near, always present, always working behind the scenes in our lives. I find it fascinating to look back on my life with this profound knowledge. Where was He when I was least expecting it? Where was He when I didn’t feel Him near? How did he answer my prayers? And as I look back, I am full of His Mercy and give praise – so much praise for His goodness.
I am a Cradle Catholic, but never fully understood my faith until most recently. I still shy away from the term “revert” because it just doesn’t seem to apply. I mean, after all, I’m a Cradle Catholic. I’ve ALWAYS been Catholic – I don’t know any different. And that led to my childhood being marked by attending Mass, participating in the Sacraments, and even Scripture to some extent, because after all, for a child it was all done by faith. It is this way because it’s always been this way. And when you’re young and you trust your parents and trust the goodness of the Lord, this is sufficient. When you’re a child, you attend Mass every Sunday because we just do. But then I became a teen. And then a young adult where the expectation was for me to be fully responsible for living out my faith and for my own faith formation! I was desperately unaware and ill-prepared for this. So naturally, society and culture prevailed, and I fell away somewhat. I always had a deep-rooted love for Catholicism, the Sacraments and Mass, and even for Christ, but life has a way of throwing curve balls and decisions are made. Although nothing too profound or crazy happened, I look back on this time in my early adult life after graduating college, and starting my career, as a time of ambivalence. I believed. Full-heartedly. But lacked fully living out my faith. It became clear that the sufficient reasoning for a child, was no longer sufficient for a 24-year-old wife and mother. And life carried on. This was a time marked by not knowing Jesus well. I knew of Him. But I didn’t know Him.
And how does this tie into running? Because it came to me while I was running (no surprise there) that I am a revert. And for the first time, the term seemed appropriate. It fit, and I sat in it comfortably – full of peace. It all started with one question: why am I Catholic? And I knew then while sitting on the couch, that the childhood reasoning was no longer enough. And one book paved the way for me. One book answered all the “whys” I held onto for years, but struggled answering. One book changed me from apathetic to fully alive and hungry for Jesus. I craved Him. One book turned into dozens, which turned into liturgical living, which turned into deeper Mass participation, craving the Sacraments especially Confession, and opened my heart to a rich and active daily prayer life.
Remember how I said at the beginning of this post, that I like to reflect on my life so far and see how God has blessed me? How He has made himself known and worked in my life? Well, the one constant in my life is running. I started running when I was just a girl. And no matter how hard its been, or how many times I’ve taken a break from it, I keep coming back. Some would say it’s the endorphins or the fact that I can eat donuts and not care, but really God used that has an instrument for me to know Him.
Let me repeat that:
God uses running as an instrument for me to know Him! How incredible!
He allowed my passion to be a passion to discover Him!
We are all instruments for His purpose – we are not ornaments meant to be idle. Remember, He desires us! All of us! Our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls. He longs for all of us to be reunited with Him one day. And until that day, He allows us to know Him and to be near Him in so many wonderful ways! The similarities of knowing God and running were lost on me for years, but I like to think that somewhere my heart knew. Running is a communion of physical self, mental self, and emotional self just as we are in communion with Christ along with the angels and saints. So, it should come as no surprise that every time I run, I feel a deeper connection along my journey that is outside of me. And somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul, they collide – running and Jesus. Beautifully united as I diligently log miles and diligently pray. United as I continue along this journey of sanctification through running miles and receiving the Eucharist. United as I overcome fatigue with rest days and Adoration and thanksgiving. United as I grow stronger with strength training and my knowledge of Sacred Tradition and God’s Love. As I continue along this journey of achieving PRs and becoming a saint, I am intrinsically pulled into both as I continue along. I am experiencing the elation and delight in fully knowing Him! I am and will always be grateful for Him working on my heart and paving the way for my journey as a Catholic revert and as a runner.
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Randi is a wife, mother, Cradle Catholic and lifelong runner. She finds deeper spiritual connection through her running and loves helping others along their running journey as a personal run coach. As a first responder wife and boy mom, running is a means for Randi to find God in the everyday hustle and bustle of life.