Why I Run: Jennifer’s Story 8

Say hi to Jen Ferguson, who blogs at Finding Heaven Today. We’re going to hear more from her and about her in the coming month as we work toward making the Soli Deo Gloria retreat a success for the women who attend.

I started running because my dad did. Watching him run, I was continually amazed by his strength and the ease of which he could put one foot in front of the other. It seemed like a feat that the likes of me could never master. When my dad worked at the University of Texas, he and a bunch of guys would go out at lunchtime under the grueling Texas sun and get about six miles under their belts at least three times a week.

Growing up, each summer we went to the beach to visit my grandmother. And almost every afternoon, my dad would go out and run on the beach. When I got in middle school or high school, sometimes I would ask to go with him, even though we both knew I couldn’t keep up. At that point in my life, I was overweight and had never had much in the way of athletic tendencies. And yet, he always said “yes” and would slow to my turtle-like pace for however long I could endure.

After I was married for a few years and we begun the “when should we have kids conversations” I hit a turning point in my relationship with my body. I declared that I wanted to be able to dress in cute maternity clothes, and therefore, I wanted to lose fifty pounds before I let a baby put fifty pounds back on to me. I’m an introspective person and I knew that it was my dependency on food for fulfillment that kept me bonded to my extra weight.

One day I went on a walk and I asked God to show me why I would naturally grow fearful if there wasn’t the potential for second helpings. I had flashbacks of childhood days where I would sit in front of the TV in the kitchen, my hand moving deftly between my mouth and the cookie jar. I remember reading over the weekly planned meals, pointing out what days would be good or bad based on what we were having for dinner. Through that walk, God showed me the voids in my heart that I had attempted to use food to fill all my life. And I told Him that I couldn’t do this on my own and He said, “Let me nourish you.”

I changed my eating habits. I chewed my food more slowly instead of inhaling it. I paused to all examine whether I felt full physically and I would ask myself before going to the pantry, “Why do you really want that?” And I prayed. A lot. Because almost every expert will tell you that exercise is a good complement to healthy eating, I started running. It required only some running shoes and some raggedy gym clothes. I signed up for my first race, the Cap10K. It was the race my dad used to run when he lived in Austin. I remember swiping the swag t-shirts out of his drawer (although we didn’t call them swag back then) and wearing them around the house. Finally, I was going to have my very own.

When I go to the beach with my dad now, I’m the one slowing down for him and he’s the one straining ahead to see the lifeguard stand erected in front of the hotel. I don’t mind, though. God used his example of physical fitness to light a fire in my soul. Through running, I see how God has created me to be an overcomer. He took an out-of-shape, food-dependent little girl who thought running six miles was a pipe dream, and He made me an athlete who learned that always, His nourishment is necessary and needed.