Go Farther Together
There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It’s the basis for Team World Vision’s call to action: Go Farther Together. I love it. This one phrase encompasses everything Team World Vison is all about. We all have different stories and different reasons for wanting to get involved. But we all have the same goal; to serve Jesus and His people in Africa.
What makes Team World Vision so powerful is that everybody’s story is valued with equal share across the organization. Doing an Ultra-marathon? Great! Way to push past your fears. Doing a 5K? Great! Way to push past the same fear. Both events bringing clean water to people who need it most. Both events require people to put their trust in God to carry them through. It’s beautiful. Training for last year’s marathon was special because we could feed off of each other. Group runs on Saturday morning were the highlight of my week. We could push each other and encourage each other face-to-face. Training for the Ironman has been different, however.
If you were to ask me back in January what the hardest aspect of this past season was going to be I would have said the fundraising and the volume of workouts. What caught me by surprise, however, was how much time I had to spend alone. I really, really struggled with the isolation and solitude. Unlike the marathon training last year, our Ironman team of 40 people is spread across the country. Even the 8 of us in the Twin Cities were too spread out to really make getting together to train regularly a reality.
I am notorious for dreaming big and then quitting once the going gets tough. I even quit on Team World Vision in 2015. That propensity to quit hung over my head all season. As I struggled in the pool with nobody to tell me how to improve I often thought about quitting. I told myself I’m no good. This was a mistake. Everyone expects me to quit anyway. Every time I had heavy legs on various rides and runs with nobody there to tell me to keep going I often questioned whether I committed to this for personal accolades or if this was truly what God was calling me to. When you’re out in the middle of a 60 – 80 mile bike ride with nothing but semi’s, SUVs, and cars whizzing by you at 60+mph you can think of about 100 different places you’d rather be and question why you’re putting yourself in this position. For me, my mind went into some pretty dark places.
I guess mind games were going to be inevitable. Nobody said it was going to be easy. This race is one of the premiere events for athletes. People train for years to compete. I gave myself 10 months. It’s one thing to know the need for prayer. It’s another to learn what it means to truly depend on God and to truly ask Him for help every day. It’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this.
God helped me through the dark times by reminding me of all the good that came from my trip to Africa last fall. I’ve read and re-read the journal I kept during that trip and I’ve stared at the pictures from the trip for literally hours. I was reminded time and time again that this Nick Can’t Run undertaking was purposefully way outside my comfort zone and that God was going to use it for good.
While I’m still processing the experience and looking ahead to the actual race, I’m excited to see what else will come from this. However, I’ve been reminded this week that I’m not alone and never have been. I’m part of a special team of world changers. This picture is our team from Africa. In this picture alone, we have so many people acting on the prompts they received from that trip to act and to serve. I’m talking crazy, huge, God-sized goals! Elspeth Atkinson is running 20 half-marathons this year trying to raise $100K! Amy Lippert, is running multiple marathons for clean water and human trafficking and has set huge goals outside her comfort zone. Jenny Granlund drives consistent awareness and thinks outside of the box to serve in ways that has generated over $17K in donations this year alone. Craig and Ron are leading teams at their church for the Twin Cities Marathon. Dan, Mandy, and Sinead are joining me at Ironman while Amber and Dan Lukas are taking on the even-harder task of keeping their families functioning with an Ironman-in-training in the house.
Every single person in this photo is owning their part of the story in one way or another. Sure, there will be challenges in the day-to-day, but one thing is for sure, we’re never alone. When we feel alone we need resist the desire to believe the lies and to continue to place our trust in God’s plan and purpose.
I’m not the only one fundraising for Team World Vision. I’m one of the THOUSANDS of people stepping out to advocate for this cause across the country. I’m also not the only one participating in Ironman this weekend. We have a team of over 40 people coming together to raise $450,000 for clean water projects in Africa. I love this team and grateful for the chance to be on it. We all have a different story, but we all have the same goal. And the only way we’ll reach it is when we choose to Go Farther Together.
Sunday is going to be a sweet victory all for God’s glory!