Many athletes have experienced it: the heartbreak that comes with injury. The inability to train, bond with the team, or feel the hard-earned satisfaction that comes with competing often times leaves athletes feeling dejected and frustrated. Many times, injured athletes even feel a sense of loss in their lives.
This, however, is not the end of the story.
Today we are featuring junior track and cross country redshirt sophomore, Kendra Weitz. Kendra is a distance runner from Spokane, Washington. In high school, she was a prestigious Footlocker National Finalist and held many other accomplishments in the sport. Since coming to college, however, she has been plagued by a string of injuries that have kept her from training or competing consistently. Kendra is an active leader in FCA and is known for her relentlessly positive attitude and faith in the Lord.
This is her story…
God has always been an important part of my life…So has running. I started running when I was in third grade but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I realized running had begun to consume me more than the God I claimed to serve.
From the beginning I knew I had talent as a runner. The more confidence I gained, the more driven I became to actualize my potential. My sophomore year of high school was a big year for me. In the fall my brother and I made it to a national cross country meet and during track my 3200 time was one of the top in the nation. But I knew there was still more in me. Nothing was going to stop me. Some days I would wake up at 5:30 to swim laps before school for extra training. Then I’d run the regular workouts with the team after school. I made assumptions about what the future would hold for me, like going to a Division 1 university with a national caliber team. I told myself I would break ten minutes in the 3200 by my senior year. What was stopping me? Nothing…nothing as far as I could tell.
My junior year of high school was another story altogether. From then until now, as a junior in college, my story has taken many twists and turns I could have never predicted (and never would have wanted to). If I told you all of the health issues and injuries I have had to overcome in the last four and a half years you may not believe me, or you may think I am a hopeless cause (I must admit I have thought that at times). And for the purpose of not writing a book, I will leave those things out for now. But the more important thing that has happened to me during this journey has nothing to do with my physical abilities or limitations but has everything to do with who I have become spiritually.
For some reason, as humans, adversity is the thing that helps us grow. In the face of hardship it is easy to shake our fists at God wondering what we ever did to deserve it. I did that for a little while. I knew he ‘had a plan’ for me and all (Jeremiah 29:11, and Isaiah 55:8-9), but why was all of this necessary? Hadn’t I learned enough the first round of hardship? Did I really need ten more obstacles to grow closer to him? Being grounded in the truth of scripture my whole life, it was easy for me to know the truth but it took me a while to completely grasp the truth about God and his goodness.
A couple years into my journey I finally began to understand God’s desire for me (and for everyone else) did not include suffering. He only wished for me to have the fullness of life he provides.
John 10:10 says that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but God has come so that we may have life and life to the full.
There is a thief among us. His name is Satan. Unfortunately, he does have power in this world. Satan’s goal is to get as many people as possible to stop believing in God. He attempts to do this by robbing us of the good things God has given us through destruction, pain, and death. And while the devil may be plotting against us and God’s plan, God remains purely good.
God is the one who set the world in motion. He made this earth and the universe just right so that we can live in it. That’s how important we are to him. He put the breath in our lungs. He gave us family, friends, and food. He made us with abilities and passions. He has an incredible plan for our lives completely separate from anything bad. But because there is evil, he has to adapt his plan. God is so powerful that when the enemy tries to thwart his plan for us, God can turn evil on its head and weave it back into his beautiful plan…Now that’s pretty remarkable.
We have the ability to choose what we believe from day to day. In my hardships I could have stopped believing in God’s goodness and his plan. I could have accepted the devil’s whisperings that I am a failure, that God is doing this to me, and that I will never reach the end. That would have led to hopelessness. And I have to admit, I have almost been there at times.
But instead, in the darkness I tried to hold onto that little light I knew; that if I persevered through that time God had something greater than I could imagine in store for me. That’s not to say that the darkness doesn’t suck, but it is easier when you know where to fix your eyes. Isaiah 55:8-9 has been my anthem verse,
“For your thoughts are not my thoughts, declares the Lord. Neither are your ways my ways. For as high as the heavens are above the earth so are my thoughts greater than your thoughts and my ways than your ways.”
God proved this verse to be true when he brought me to Lipscomb. For years I had envisioned going to public, Division 1 university with a national caliber women’s cross country team. Due to health issues my senior year of high school, my vision for the future was completely in the air. Not only was my college running career in question but even going to college, something that had always been definite in my mind, started to become a question mark. With the help of medicine, my health improved, I even turned around to the point that I was able to run again. At that time one of the only coaches talking to me was my now coach, Coach Taylor. After speaking with him and visiting Lipscomb I realized it was where I needed to be. Coach Taylor gave me the chance to run for a Division 1 university; something I once saw as a given, and now see as an incredible blessing. God’s plan to bring me to Lipscomb was not mine. But it has been better than the plan I had imagined.
I wish I could say that my physical battles ended after high school, but that unfortunately is not the case. I have continued to have my fair share of adversity in college. I can’t say I have contributed much athletically to my team by any means, but I am grateful my identity is not contingent upon who I am as a runner. Rather, my identity is found in the One who gave me the ability to run. Running is not my own, I never earned it. And now when I run I wish to gratefully offer it as my gift back to God. This is how it should be with anything God has blessed us with.
While I wish so much to be competitive again and it looks as if I am headed that direction, God has showed me that his place in my story is not on the sidelines cheering me on and helping me be who I want to be. He is a part of my story as the Author; the one who is actively involved in my life; the one who has planned out my story, creating me to be the person He wants. Pain is necessary in this story or growth does not happen. While God is not the pain, he is present in the pain. My story has been about seeking God’s goodness despite suffering. He is fully good and I know his plans are still to prosper.
Written By: Kendra Weitz, Lipscomb WXCT