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a freed up heart

isn’t this the most beautiful bracelet you have ever seen?  you see, i have these friends…they challenge and inspire me to build.  to grow.  to live outside my comfort zone and find strength in the foundation of my faith.  in my core belief that people are inherently good.  that at our base, each of us crave connection, encouragement, and deep lasting meaning.  they lavish me with a friendship and a grace uncommon.

this last year was a big adventure for me, a very real physical and psychological challenge.  a year and a half ago i signed up to complete an IRONMAN.  for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and then a 26.2 mile run…140.6 miles in total.  when i began, i was a runner.  i had run several marathons and had done a few small triathlons.  i was a mediocre swimmer and absolutely terrified, beyond terrified of riding my bike in the aero position (which is crunched down resting your forearms on bars that make you aerodynamic).  i could tell countless stories of heated arguments with my husband as he tried to ‘teach/help’ me to get in aero!  but in the months before IM, i became ready: i was dedicated to my goal and vigorously trained my body each day to swim, to ride (in aero…thank you honey), and to run the distance.

at the same time i was training my body to go this incredible distance, i was also training my heart and mind to live at peace in the knowledge of who i am.  over countless hours on the roads running & biking, i infused my mind & spirit with words of life and truth through podcasts, downloaded sermons and spiritual teachings.  grappling with my own identity; who i am now and who i want to become.  whose opinions matter and who i’m serving.  confronting my errors, failures and missteps…and releasing them in freedom.  reflecting on God’s measureless love for me and His plan for my life.

this summer i completed my ironman and my physical challenge was accomplished.  but i can’t say the same for this journey of the heart.  i cannot say that other peoples’ opinions don’t matter to me.  they do.  i can’t say i’m completely at peace or that i’m always happy with who i am as a wife, mother, daughter & friend.  some days i stumble and my resolve is tested.  but one thing ironman has taught me is to remain steadfast.  to not lose heart when the challenges of the day seem far too great to overcome; when the worry of failure, rejection and abandonment seem to cripple me in fear; when i’d rather just give up than be brave and go against the flow.  to continue to move forward, one step at a time, remembering that two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward.  and to never be content to stay the same.

so those friends i mentioned in the beginning…they made that incredible bracelet you see pictured for me.  engraved in the center is 140.6 for the miles i completed on ironman day, and circling around the flower is engraved: “i run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. psalms 119.23.”  i learned a lot about freedom this year.  ironman was about so much more to me than a race; it was an expedition of the soul.  we need to live our lives set free.  free to follow the desires of our heart; free to run in the direction of our dreams.  we will make mistakes, we will fall off course.  but only we hold the power to pick ourselves up and walk again.  not without misstep, not without stumble, but steadfast.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Krista October 17, 2012, 4:58 am

    Oh yes….the bracelet. Symbolic of so many things…. training, accomplishment, courage, faith, belief, truth, boldness — and most of all, FREEDOM. While you were growing your stamina physically, an internal transformation was also taking place. What I see is a butterfly, released from the struggle of its cocoon, flying free- touching the world with its beauty. YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL. {and so is this post}

  • Melanie October 17, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Love. love. love

  • Jill Maher October 25, 2012, 12:05 am

    Wow. I only met you post-ironman accomplishment, so I can’t relate to the before picture. I love gaining a greater understanding of WHO you are and WHY given the amazing experiences and journey you have been on for the last year. I love that bracelet and LOVE the level of support and love that surrounds you. It just makes me want to experience it on a daily basis! Your beautifully inspiring my friend!

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