I knew it would be a small and quiet race without many competitors running my pace or enthusiastic cheers from crowds along the way, but I entered it anyways.
After nearly 20 years of running, it’s these simple races- participants and pomp are not the main priority- when I feel most myself. It hasn’t always been that way though.
There’s been long seasons throughout my life where I’ve searched for applause from a full stadium, yearned for encouragement to be shouted in my ears, and needed recognition in the form of approving nods and consistent claps. Unsure of myself and my place in the world, I worked and ran from a place of fear.
“Does anybody even notice me?” becomes the question we wear like a prized finisher’s medal around our neck. It’s a heavy question, loaded with meaning, it threatens to define us if we’re not careful.
Halfway through the race on Saturday I felt the familiar burning in my legs and lungs, and with it my desperate need, not just for water or the sight of the finish line, but for someone to see me, to acknowledge my hard work, and the way I gave my best effort up the unending, rolling hills.
There was no one around…
Keep going Charissa! You got this! I am cheering you on!
The voice quenched my thirsty heart. His words were just what I needed as my motivation and strength waned in the middle of the race, when it’s easiest to give up.
He said my name.
He heard my every breath.
He watched me with a smile on his face.
I welcomed His voice and He championed me all the way the way to the finish.
Later on, when they handed me an award to honor my place in the race, along with an oversized t-shirt I’d never wear, and a cheap mug I’d never use, I couldn’t help but realize the funny way life works.
We sweat and strive, we take steps with the hopes of being seen and eventually recognized for our achievements, only to earn a silly reward that will never last (or we’ll throw away!) at the end.
God calls us to enter another race, a quiet one where sometimes the crowds all but disappear and the crazy accolades are exchanged for gentle whispers from His wild heart for us.
It’s not the race we’d naturally choose to enter, is it?
On any given day, I opt for throngs of people, thumping music, and constant inspiration at every mile. I don’t want to hear my own breathing or beating heart, or find myself in the awkward invisible in-between spaces without anyone to notice, or feel the burning sensation in my legs with no one to push me through.
To willingly choose to enter the small and insignificant, less populated race seems weird to me.
The loud voices, the people all around us, the hype of progress and success dull our heart to hearing His words. For a moment our question, “Does anybody even notice me?” gets pushed to the background, but eventually it demands an answer. Whether we’re standing on the podium or congratulating the top competitors, our heart wants to know. Did anyone see me?
It’s when we lose our obsession with shallow end results and big cheering squads, and the temporary rush of someone mentioning our name, that we start to run our own pace, unafraid of our position compared to others, and hear His whisper out on the open roads of life…
I see you.
I’m cheering you on.
I know your heart.
It’s an answer that keeps us running to the very end.
Verses to Ponder: 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:24-25
This week, one of my favorite writers, Sara Hagerty, released her book into the world, “Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden In A World That Loves To Be Noticed.” Friends, the title alone stopped me in my tracks. I am encouraging everyone I know to buy this book and then give yourself time- days, months, dare I say years to take it in. Within these pages is a timely message for all of us straight from God’s heart.
Snag a copy, or a few copies for you and friends, and see what happens when you let intimacy with Jesus be your only definition of adventure.
I had the unexpected joy of creating a tiny journal, Unseen Letters, to accompany this book. If you order seven copies of the book (to go through with a small group of women or to give away!) you get seven free journals as well. And did I mention the study guide is free to everyone! You can purchase multiple copies here.