words by: ari heick
I am a runner. (Pause…I too am picturing that fit pony tail bobbing friend all Nikeed up, please stop lest I disappoint. I am not THAT kind of runner. Friends, you can stop giggling now.)
I have a tendency to run to keep my schedule full, to be everything to everyone, to make my mark. I am a YES girl. I want to do it all. I am a runner.
Almost 5 years ago, I was forced to stop running. It was not a gradual slow down. Life came to a halt. I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. (If you, like me at the time, don’t know what IV means, there ain’t no V.) Instead of running and filling life with more, more activities, more volunteering, more social events, more I had to cut everything that was not necessary to live and be still. My days were spent in quiet times with my family and finding laughter and tears in crazy things like shaving my head, daily shots and strange taste buds. I stopped running and learned to be still, to be present, to enjoy every moment instead of rushing through and racing to the next. I spent many hours weekly in doctors’ offices and surgery rooms but the hours were treasured.
On Saturdays I didn’t miss a football game. I bundled up and slowly inched out to my watch son’s football game. Win or loose he was always full of life and energy after a game. His joy filled my heart. My littles snuggled up and would spill hot chocolate so we all smelled delicious. They cheered on their big bro by dancing around my chair, creating forts and an occasional shout out to the field.
On Sundays, I sat in the balcony at church surrounded by my people. It seemed as though every message and every song was for me. It was a time of encouragement and reassurance that my family was going to be fine. Early on in this season, a preacher said, “God has got this!” and I knew He did. I did not worry, most days anyway. I did not know the outcome but I had a peace that only God could give.
Mondays I rested because the few activities of the weekend would wipe me out. Occasionally, my mom and sisters would take me for a lap at Costco. The community around me had rallied and provided months of meals, so I didn’t need much in the way of groceries, I think it was more of getting out in the community and trying to feel normal.
Tuesdays were “Ty Tuesdays”. Three precious friends, picked up my kindergartner at 9am every Tuesday. They loved him and spoiled him as their own before dropping him off to his “dream team” afternoon class with Mrs. Carney. There is no greater gift to a mom than loving her children. To this day, we will drive by a nice restaurant and he will comment that he “hasn’t been there in awhile”. My heart warms and I smile thinking of these friends that chose to love my family by loving my Ty Guy.
Wednesday through Fridays were filled with afternoon naps with my newborn niece sleeping on my chest, short visits from family and friends bearing food, flowers and gifts along with an encouraging word or hug and rest. I spent many hours in silence and in prayer. I had thought I would Netflix binge but I quickly discovered that I had little tolerance for noise and for wasting time. I want to truly live the moments I had with all that I had. I refused to miss out. The best evenings were snuggling with my kids and reading stories. In that season, we all knew the value of time, there were little tears, little fighting and arguing or maybe I just let those memories go. I remember the sweetness. I remember my family, young and old taking care of me with small and large acts of kindness. Everyone slowed down, everyone stopped running.
I am coming up on 5 years cancer free in a few months. That season taught me many lessons; Prayer works, Miracles do still happen, Community is important, Love hard and Stop Running. I am more protective of my time. A wise friend taught me the Covey “Good, better, best” method of valuing my time. I am choosing more wisely these days. I am more present. I am more grateful for all that life brings me. I am fully aware that God will get me through any trial that comes my way.
I want to say that I have stopped running but the world creeps in and the pace quickens and I find myself running again. The difference now is that I recognize it. I know that I am not my best self, best wife, best mother, friend, sister, daughter when I am running. I have learned to stop and slow down, breathe deep and
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted.” Psalm 46:10 (New American Standard)
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.” Exodus 14:14
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31