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Run Your Race

You know those days—those hard days—when you feel completely defeated.  As a mother of a little boy with autism, I have had many of those hard days.  Days that turned into weeks, even months, where I struggled to find peace in the midst of this difficult race God has me on. Every day I would take some time to try to be still in God’s presence, to quiet my mind, so I would be able to hear God speak to my heart. Practicing stillness before the Lord is my daily lifeline, but during this time in my life, I was only restless. My heart was deeply troubled, and I could not quiet my soul.  I am sure many of you can relate.

I wanted to embrace this journey and run my race with peace, endurance, confidence, strength, and trust in God but I felt myself resisting in every way.  I isolated myself and my son in our home to avoid the discomfort, the stares, the comments, and the lack of understanding and compassion from people around us. One dirty look or comment always took the wind right out of me and zapped me of any joy I might have had that day.

I felt so much heartache when looking at other “typical” children; I wanted my little boy to be “normal.” I felt life was unfair. I felt sorry for myself, and I felt sorry for Shia.  My mind raced with questions:  Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? Could I have prevented this?  The weight of these questions haunted me and left me feeling like it was my fault that my little boy had autism. I felt like a failure. My mind was constantly filled with doubt, fear, guilt, insecurity, frustration, and confusion. I was tired and overwhelmed, and I had zero confidence I could run this race God had set before me. I lived this way for months, completely unmotivated and unwilling to engage in this race…exactly where Satan wanted me.

But in the midst of this, God spoke to my heart and said, “I have a plan. Do you trust me?” I knew I needed to let go, trust God, and engage in the race, but I couldn’t.  I was still bound by my fears, insecurities, and expectations of what I thought my race should look like. I was still resisting. But what happened next forever changed me as a mother.

The Lord led me to read Hebrews 12:1-2, which commands us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” I had read this many times before but this time it spoke to my heart in a different way.  As I was pondering these verses, the Lord began to reveal to me two behaviors that were hindering me from running the race God marked out for me.

1.    I was focusing on and listening too much to the negative spectators in my race: God reminded me there would always be spectators watching me run my race…some cheering me on and some criticizing me.  He asked me, where is your focus…on them or on Me?  If I listened too much to how these negative spectators viewed me as a mother and how they viewed Shia as my son, I would ultimately feel defeated and I would stop running the race.

2.    I was constantly comparing myself to the mothers and kids running next to me: God revealed to me just how much I desired for Shia and I’s race to look like everyone else’s.  My focus was not on Him but on wanting to run a different race. He showed me how I constantly felt sorry for Shia and me and thought the race we had to run was unfair. I learned that this attitude would throw me into a pity party, and would cause me to lose all motivation to keep running my race.

I realized Satan was using these two schemes to distract me; to cause me to stumble and feel like a failure; to make me feel defeated, weak and weary; to fill me with doubt, insecurity and fear; to bring confusion to my heart and mind; to cause me to become frustrated; and, ultimately, to cause me to stop running the race that God had set before me. It had been working. But, in that moment, God empowered me to throw off these behaviors that had been hindering and entangling me.  My eyes were now fixed on Jesus and I was ready to run with perseverance the race God marked out for me as a mother. I felt a new sense of freedom and I began to live life differently from that moment on.

Shia and I don’t live in isolation anymore, and when we are out in public, I rarely focus on what other people think, say, or do. I have stopped comparing Shia to others. Now, I see him as a true gift from God.  I have stopped trying to figure everything out, and, instead, I am letting go and trusting the Lord. I have more confidence as a mother now than I have ever had because the Lord has shown Himself faithful. He has proven He will never leave me and will always provide the support our family needs at just the right time.

Do I struggle still and have hard days? Yes, of course. But, the Lord continues to use my race to refine me and purify my faith in Him, and for that I am grateful. So, no matter how painful or hard your race is, I encourage you to embrace it and learn from it. Spend some time with the Lord to find out what exactly is hindering and entangling you. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and trust that you are fearfully and wonderfully made for a unique purpose…for your very own race. Now are you ready to run it?

Abby Lewis is a wife of 16 years, mother, author and speaker.  Her journey is very simple—it is all about love. She wants to be so filled with God’s love that she can’t help but to be love and give love to those around her.  She is passionate about sharing her love for God and her transformation journey in hopes it will inspire and encourage you in your walk with God.  You can read more about her journey in her book Living Still~Walking in Peace in the Midst of Life, read encouraging and inspiring blog posts on her website or follow her on Facebook @beloveandgivelove