December 10, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Life’s marathon keeps us sprinting toward God

Kimberly PohoveySix-hundred fifty miles and 100 hours of training to run a 26.2-mile race. It was absolutely amazing to watch my 57-year-old husband prepare for and run his first marathon—even more so when you consider he almost didn’t survive colon cancer 15 years ago. I was in awe of his stamina, determination and resolve. And, I thought, there is no way I could ever run a marathon.

Then I realized we are all running a marathon of some sort. Maybe your marathon is getting through college, surviving a chronic or life-threatening illness, raising children, or tackling an addiction of some sort. Whenever you face a demanding, long-term challenge, you, my friend, are running a marathon.

I could see both mountains and valleys during my husband’s training routine. He would be elated as he accomplished his milestone goals. Conversely, there were days when he dreaded the next run. He ran in upper 90-degree heat and in pouring rain. He continued running on days when he didn’t feel great. He even ran when working out of town, or when we were on vacation. He just kept running. He persisted because he stayed focused on a goal. He ran the marathon to raise monies for a scholarship fund we established in our late son’s memory years ago. Attaching a cause to the marathon also helped him persevere.

As I gave it more thought, I decided my marathon is a lifelong pursuit of being a good person, someone who lives up to the expectations God has for me. Of course, I fail daily, but I persist in improving who I am and in making better decisions as I journey toward God. That may sound easy but, honestly, it is the hardest challenge of my life.

I try to focus on obeying the Ten Commandments as well as the teachings of the Church, even when I experience temptations that lead me astray. I attempt to be kind to others, even when they are not kind to me. And I ask for forgiveness from God and others when I fall short. It requires me to persevere each and every day.

In fact, one could view life itself as a marathon. From a Catholic perspective, our life’s marathon is a sprint to God and eternal life. Sometimes we run full throttle in that direction. Other times, we find pacing ourselves will help us attain our goal. Every once in a while, we slow down and walk part of the way. Sometimes, we might give up altogether for a spell before taking up the path once again. Staying focused on the reward of eternal life keeps us moving forward.

And on that day when we cross the finish line, I pray we all experience not the accomplishment of running the marathon, but our reward for a life well-lived.

St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy sums up a life’s marathon perfectly: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance” (2 Tm 4:7-8).

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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