I could hear the soft patting of my feet. One after another. Whipping open the screen door of our summer home, my feet landed on the warm, simple black lane that had houses hugging each of its sides as it led you right down to the pier, a simple black lane we call “Sybil Lane.” That we call “home.” I turned around and there he was, my older brother with a huge smile on his face, holding the inside half of the PB&J my dad had just made us. With every step, I could feel my heart pounding against my chest and my little lungs searching for all the air they could possibly capture. From inside the house, I heard my dad yell “KATIEGIRL,” I stopped in my tracks and shrieked as I felt my brother tug the back of my dress of a t-shirt, and the jelly slip down my tangled, curly brown hair.

It was in that simple little moment that I couldn't help but laugh, for the pure excitement I felt as I could hear my brother’s screams from me right behind me, and the race of my heart as I tried my best to outrun him. Although my legs were little, and my worries were smaller, it was just the beginning of the race I would find myself still running as a college student 12 years later. It was just the beginning of the excitement. The moments of fear, gratitude, loss, joy, that would all begin to slowly define my race, and who I am while running it.

Twelve years later, as I walk down the same simple black lane, I can faintly hear the familiar patting of my feet. Each time I hear it, there is a split second where I am reminded of that day. Then, slowing my steps, I look at my surroundings and take a breath. I am, still, in the midst of this race. Running from something. Running to something. All the while, living.

Over the years it has become so much more apparent to me what I spend most of my time on. I find myself so intently focused on what I haven’t done or what I need to do, or the broken pieces that seem too fragmented to put back together that I have completely forgotten the power of what this life offers, and who holds this life completely.

I take a good look at those around me, most of them students, all trying to pursue our best selves and live out our best lives. But, all too often it feels like we are living life parallel. Our footprints no longer align with one another. We take our own turns and head down our own paths: paths that often we don't even realize we are taking. We are spending too much of our time fulfilling our wants and needs to even ask ourselves the questions; “What is it that we are running towards?”, “What is it that we truly want?”

It is the most beautiful thing that we have been granted a life that allows us to follow our dreams - to pursue our happiness.

As I talk to those who have run the race for a lot longer than I, the one response that I have repeatedly gotten has been, “Kate, it's not a sprint, it is a marathon. Life. It is a marathon.”

I sat with this one for a bit, and the more I said it to myself, the more I felt my heart connect to this. It felt right. And I knew why. All too many times, my pace has been a sprint. I have always loved the excitement, the thrill of the race, but there was so much I lost while tunnel visioned in my “sprint.” Moments like the day at the lake, that simple little moment was not apart of my plan, rather by inviting breathing room into my life; it was created by God alone.

These moments come without warning, but they will never leave your heart in the same condition as before. If you spend your whole life running your race as a sprint, you will never be able to truly live in the moment, or even a moment with your whole heart present.

Slowing it down, we are able to look at those in our lives, running right alongside us. We are able to love one another and the process so much more, and we are able to love ourselves. It allows you to trust in God and his plan for you. It allows for him to do more of his work through you as your focus is shifted from our self-made goals to goals that are so much greater than us. To a plan that is so much more vast than we could ever imagine.

This life becomes appreciated for the beautiful journey it is. Your own.

It has never been about the finish line. It's about the race itself and who you are while you run it.

“You were running a good race. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13