Our lives are characterized by milestones that mark our journey in life altering events. Besides birth and death, they usually include turning 18, getting our first vehicle, graduation, marriage, having a child, etc.
Unfortunately, we celebrate the obvious, and tend to overlook the events that changed our lives without a monumental marker. Unless, of course, we take the time to look back and reflect on the change, as well as the impact it had on ourselves and others. In reflecting on my most recent milestone, I also discovered
THE REASON I RUN.
It all began over a year ago, sitting in my living room filled with teenage girls. We were discussing setting goals, when my friend and I both discovered we had a desire to run a marathon.
We set a date and completed our first half marathon a few months later.
Our “practice runs” every week, turned into mini therapy sessions, where we met together to solve the problems of the world! We laughed, we cried, we prayed for so many people as we ran hundreds of miles last year. So, we set another goal to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World.
Within the 26,000 runners, a smaller team assembled. Organized by Abolition International and the JOYFM radio station, Team Freedom raised it’s banner to run for those who are not Free To Run (Yet)!
In keeping with my heart’s cry to abolish modern day slavery, Abolition International also exists to fight Human Trafficking. Along with the 200 runners on Team Freedom, we raised over $72,000 to help expand a shelter for girls rescued from sex slavery. We knew from the beginning this was a cause greater than ourselves. But, I never knew the whole, life altering impact it would have.
PRINCESS FOR A DAY
I have to admit I have a Fairy Tale mentality (and my castle-looking house doesn’t hurt), and running in a marathon where I get to dress like a Princess was a win-win event in my book!
So, my best friend, my daughter-in-law, my niece and I all picked a Disney Princess to portray as we ran 13.1 miles. I chose Belle! Beauty and the Beast has been one of my favorite Fairy Tales for as long as I can remember. Maybe, the fact that she loses her father, or that she can see the best in the “unlovely” resonated with my soul.
Belle means “Beautiful”. A word that, like many women, I have had a hard time using as a description to identify myself. Beautiful! The defining factor that set Esther apart from all the other young women and landed a crown upon her head! I love the story of Esther, as controversial as it is. I’ve read every book and bible study on her that I could. That is why, a few months ago, I looked up the Jewish calender and saw that the Feast of Purim was to be celebrated the same weekend that we would be running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon!
As I sat in a room with the other members of Team Freedom listening to stories of girls that were rescued from Human Trafficking, we cried, we cheered, we prayed to rescue those who were still held in captivity. I knew this was a task that called for collaboration and unity. As Queen Esther called for fasting and prayer, this battle for freedom from captivity calls for that as well! And as I prepared myself to run, I placed a crown upon my head, reflecting on the words of Mordecai:
“Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
As I ran for those who are not yet free to run, I felt beautiful, because I knew that fighting for their freedom was what I was created to do! My best friend, who not only prays and runs the journey with me gave me a symbolic card which ended with these words,
“Falling in love – with who you were meant to be.
I was Born to do this.”
And that is the reason I run!