I am not a runner. I do not run for fun most days, I don't even run most days.
I weigh significantly more than I did before kiddo was born, have bowed lower legs (thanks Dad), and had foot surgery when I was growing up and don't forget I'm short. So I don't have a runner's body, either.
And don't forget the time someone in college dubbed my running "the Anna run". Super awkward.
So even the idea of any person seeing me run sounds embarrassing much less the whole "thousands of people cheering you on from their many neighborhoods" aspect that is the Chicago Marathon.
Also, I didn't feel prepared to run the Chicago Marathon... then again, does anyone really feel prepared? I digress.. Every time I'd practice, I couldn't get past 6 miles running/walking, and in the last few weeks, I couldn't get past two miles due to blisters, changing styles of shoes and socks to try to find a solution.
The biggest excuse I had?!? I had no desire to ever run a marathon. I never wrote "run a marathon" on my bucket list, I never had any desire to run that far in one go, or for that long, unless maybe I was being chased by a bear... and yet, I did. For many hours, I kept going, and became a Chicago Marathon Finisher in 2017, astounding anyone that knew me, including my immediate family, close friends and myself... and yet I did. Regardless of my entire body's desire to quit, the blisters, the aches, the wondering if my body would go back to its pre-hobbling state, or if any of the pain was permanent (it wasn't, thank you Jesus!). But what did change is this whole idea of listening to those voices that said I couldn't do it because of all those reasons listed above. While a still, small voice in me said, but what if you can? What if I made you for more? I learned sometimes the living is in the risking...
The Friday night before, the brother that signed me up for the marathon (that is a whole different story), told me if I could run 6 miles, I could run 24. I think I ran 2 miles that night, and not even together. So then he told me if I could run 2 miles, I could run 6...anybody figure out which of my brothers told me this?!? Anyway, He said whatever you do, don't stop, JUST KEEP GOING.... and while he may be the reason I was doing the marathon, since after all, he did sign me up, he might have also given me just the encouragement I needed to complete it - because JUST KEEP GOING is part of what kept me going. When those thoughts of "But I'm not a marathoner, I don't even run for fun, I don't have a runner's body and I look funny doing it kept creeping into my head", I said "Sure, but so what? What if I can do it? I won't know unless I try... what if finishing the Marathon is something I MUST DO and kept going in spite of the fears, or potential perceptions... for once, I was not going to be defined by fears, by never having done something before, by not having run that far before.
So I did that... I kept going... mile after mile, with family calling to ask when we would be done, even pushing back a group dinner when we hadn't finished or quit yet. And quit I didn't, and even though the crowds were gone at the end, and kiddo was upset there was no one to cheer him on when he ran with us at the end, we still finished, and received medals... and I saved that medal, to remind myself that I can do impossible things, things I may not have done before, but it doesn't mean that I can't, I can try new things, and risk failure, because what if I don't fail, what if I finish, like the Chicago Marathon?
So when I hear you mention to me about how you're not an artist or a painter, or there isn't a creative bone in your body, I think back to the Marathon, when NO ONE thought I could do it (even me!), and yet I did. And I know that these workshops - from the vision of the painting itself to the meaning behind it, are not dependent on you and me, or even what we define we are, or what we think God made us to be, or what experience we have had, because God is there, saying "You can do it!" and giving you what you need, just like He gave me the direction through my brother of "JUST KEEP GOING". It really doesn't matter if you think you are an artist or painter, or not, I still don't see myself as a marathoner. Or if you are think you are creative or not. If we continue to focus on how we are now, we would not grow or action on options that God provided, in this case, painting as a tool for closer connection. And remember, God works with you where you are at, like He did with me, providing what you need to be successful. And if you don't believe that, read about Moses and Aaron, or Gideon, or many of the other people in the Bible that God gave them assignments that they balked at because they didn't think they were qualified. So when you hear that voice, or you want to protest and say "But I am not an artist or a painter", just remember, "But she ran that marathon and she's not even a runner." And maybe you'll realize that we can put labels on ourselves, or accept labels from others, that aren't even true!
So maybe there is something that you need to hear from God about, or maybe you feel distant from Him, or just want a closer connection. Or maybe you are struggling with some situation that seems impossible, or annoying, or just won't go away, and you just want it to be over and need a break, or a reset of perspective. Or maybe you, like me, forget who you are because of Him, and you need that reminder. I invite you to sign-up for one of my art workshops, and see how God can meet you there.
Advanced, online registration are required, Worship Art registration closes tonight, 1/30/2019. Available workshops are listed on the website's event calendar. You can buy your ticket at: www.annajaneelliott.com/workshops
Originally Published Jan 28, 2019