I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I am big on hope. Hope is a word that I cling to as my own. It has come to define my life in so many ways. Hope in the Lord's promises has given me strength and peace and resilience when I most needed it.
And my hope for this year is the same hope I've had for the past several years: I hope to run again.
For the first six years after my legs started hurting, I would try running a few times a year. I would test my legs — out of curiosity or impatience or upset — and see how they reacted. And the reaction was always an increase in pain, a week or so of punishment for my indiscretion. But I've run more in this past year than in the previous six combined. I've hit the road — or the dirt or the treadmill — and felt mostly just the pain of normal muscle soreness, not of injury.
Since I've been home, in fact, I've run four times. I didn't run long, and I didn't run fast — for the record, I was never fast — but I ran, and my legs and back mostly cooperated. And that is a huge step forward.
During the first of these four runs, I looked over from the treadmill and saw a guy I went to high school with but haven't talked to in a while. I remembered a picture that was taken of us at church camp in 2005. We were in the rain, and I was in my wheelchair. I hadn't thought about this picture in years. (It was pre-Facebook, you know?) How funny, I thought, to look over and see him now and remember that moment and those wheelchair months, which seem so long ago, as I pound away on the treadmill.
And then a few days ago, I was looking through old pictures and came across the same one. It's so funny to see that little me and think of all that has happened since then. So many doctors and physical therapists and misdiagnoses and tests and tears and painful months. And, at the same time, so many reassurances that the Lord would heal me.
I'm closer than ever to having that hope realized — not realized as in understood but realized as in fulfilled.
It's scary to put this all into words. It seems like whenever I tell someone I'm doing better, I start doing worse again. The pain is not gone yet, and I know that it might not be gone for months or years to come. But it's not like it used to be. It doesn't control my life anymore.
And I'm more hopeful than ever that I will return to running for good. There's no way for me to sum this blog up neatly at this hour. All I know is that He who has promised is faithful and that this gives me hope for a new year.