on my birthday, a friend of mine texted me and said, "happy birthday. keep running those hills."
and as i thought more about it, i realized that hills and running have been a big theme in my life- both literally and figuratively.
when i was younger and training for cross country, my dad and i would run the same loop around our neighborhood. it was pretty short 2ish mile loop but the real kicker came at the end... a quick, swiftly and steep incline. it was always so terrible to remember that big hill at the end of an otherwise flat route, but then the victory was sweet at the end, running to the top of the hill with every last drop of strength always resulted in a sweet victory walk home. and let's be honest, i really enjoyed making sure that i beat my dad to the top of hill and would win all bragging rights for that day.
during my cross country years, there was this one school that we always raced at with the most insane hill.
i remember always wanting to attend this meet because 1. you had to qualify for the meet and i always wanted to feel "good enough" to qualify for special events/meets/everything because i was insecure and 2. it was on a saturday and the moms always brought the best snacks. but i also remember dreading this meet because of the hill. but, the hill was the beginning of the race, you were still strong and i always remember running up the hill and thinking, "good! i did that! now it's downhill!" however, that hill is forever etched in my mind and i really have no desire to ever run it again.
in honduras, the hotel our team stays in sits at the bottom of a long, winding hill right on a beautiful lake. it is seriously breathtaking. last winter, when i was there with a team a bunch of guys way fitter than myself were getting up every morning and running from the hotel to the top of the main road, about 1.5 miles, slow incline the whole way. at this point, i had not been running much (read: at all) and decided to join in one morning. and it was really hard. but, it is one of my favorite memories from that trip. the early morning cool air. the intentional conversation on the walk back down. the way it feels to breathe in when it's really hard and feel really, really alive. and realizing that even though i had not been running, maybe running was just a part of who i was.
just last week, after a short little trip to south america, i went for a run. i have been trying to ease myself back into the running game with a couple short runs throughout the week. nice and slow, my only goal to run the whole time and remind myself that i am so much stronger than i think. last week instead of opting for my usual 2 mile loop, i decided to push it. i found myself desiring to run right towards the biggest hill in our little town. i found myself confidently believing that not only could i run up that hill and be just fine, i wanted to do it! i wanted to prove to myself that i really believe that i am strong and able and i can do hard things... i can keep running hills. so i ran the hill. twice. and my lungs were on fire, my feet felt like lead weights, but i ran home. head high and heart soaring. i can do hard things.
and this past year? there have been some hills. hilly days. hilly months. hilly moments. but God! in His infinite grace and knowledge of me... i have seen it. when i commit to do the hard thing and lock eyes with the Author of my story, i can keep running those hills. and i want to. oh how i want to! i want to be that person that sees a challenge, looks it in the eye, reminds myself whose i am, and runs. the hills, they are going to keep coming. but my eyes are fixed and my heart determined. i can do hard things. i will keep running.