(Today’s post is by friend and advocate of Sixty Feet, Tymm Hoffman. Tymm is an avid runner and has an incredible story. He loves his family and shares it frequently on his blog, found here.)
When I think back through my life – it’s the one thing I feel like I have ALWAYS been. A runner. And it’s the ONLY thing I truly feel I have ever been good at.
In elementary school I can clearly remember running those Presidential Fitness things and always winning. I loved it. Seeing my name on the plaque hanging in the gym/cafeteria was always exciting. Bump up to middle school and I was competing in the Hershey’s Track and Field meets on the weekends. Ribbons galore. I still have them. Those ribbons meant something to a runner.
My freshman year of high school my family moved 800 miles away to a new home. An admittedly weird, tough and awkward time to be alive anyway – but moving made the freshman teen year that much harder. I was a fish out of water in a new town, at a new school. I was the “new kid.” But ya know what else I was?
At tryouts for the track team that spring I was still that “loner new kid.” By the end of track season I had a whole new set of great friends. Running – my very best friend – had introduced them to me.
All through high school I competed in outdoor track, cross country and indoor track. Because that’s what runners do. We run.
Ya know – the funny thing about races is that they always have a finish line. The beautiful thing though is that theres’s always another race to start… if you’re willing to run it. As high school came to an end – I reluctantly hung up my running shoes.
Oh, but I wasn’t done running. I was just running a different race now. Graduation night my best friend and his girlfriend were killed in a car crash. My attempts to get in to the Air Force Academy didn’t pan out for me. My friend was dead, college didn’t seem so exciting and my future seemed bleak… what did I do? Remember, I’m a runner. So I ran.
I ran from death. I ran from life. I ran from problems. I ran from responsibility. I ran from family. But I ran the hardest and the fastest that I could… from God. I blamed a God I didn’t even know for all of my problems and I sprinted as fast as I could in the opposite direction of Him. For 10 years.
Genesis 1:27 says:
“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them…”
Well – I’m a runner. So… yep you guessed it. So is God. And not only is He a runner – He’s a pretty darn good one too. He can pace WAY better than I can. I know this because for that 10 year race I ran He paced with me from the time the gun went off until 10 years later – when I was just worn out, beat down and exhausted and I stopped… and turned.
And Instead of running from Him – I decided to run to Him. I stopped blaming God for everything wrong around me and instead I decided I wanted to get to know Him. How does a runner do that? He invites God on a run with him, that’s how.
I pulled those running shoes back out and actually started really running again. Yeah, the thrill of speed on the track was long gone but I had found a new love – running in the woods. It was exhilarating to me to run through the woods on a single track trail as fast as I could. I loved the challenge of turning a body made to be a sprinter into a longer distance runner. But mostly, I LOVED the fact that my running partner could be found at any turn, any curve on the trail out in those woods.
Over the next few years I got to know God on a much deeper level and almost every single thing He has revealed to me has come while on a run in the woods.
A few years later the gun went off on a new race for me and my wife. Infertility. Now THAT is an endurance race – pretty much an ultra with obstacles in the way. Every lap exhausting. Filled with hills (both up and down), mud pits, deflating truths and often insurmountable obstacles. We hit a few of those walls. But things were different for me this time around – this time I was running WITH God and not away from Him. And He led us around those obstacles and all He asked us to do was follow Him.
And we did.
As we found ourselves neck deep in our first adoption process – I decided I would pass the time (the insane, long, crazy amount of time) by training for a marathon. Yep – the guy who’s claim to fame was the 4×400 and open 400 meter run was going to make himself a marathoner. I ran my butt off. I ran to pass time, I ran to not think about the wait, I ran to talk to God and stay aligned with His plan for us. I just simply ran.
And then that day came. To stick with the running analogies – I guess this would be the equivalent of a dropped baton exchange in a relay race. The call came in that our son – Brighton Asher Hoffman – had passed away in his orphanage. We had been prepping to go bring him home… and now that wasn’t going to happen. His race was over.
I hung the phone up and remember wanting to sprint out the front door away from it all. But I didn’t. I got it together, calmed my breathing – treated it like mile 10 in a long run. Then I picked up the phone and did the hardest thing I have ever had to do to date… call my wife at work and tell her our son had passed away.
She ran home. She’s a runner too.
I wanted to be mad at God – but as I looked for Him I swear I saw him beside me – leaning over lacing up His running shoes. And I might have been seeing things but I think He had picked up the dropped baton and was handing it back to me.
The next day the three of us – me, my wife and God – headed out to the trails we love to run. It was raining (we love that too – and luckily our running partner has some say in when that happens). Through tears and a few miles we ran off some of our pain, some of our hurt. We gained some clarity. Some comfort. Some confidence.
We went home tired. Hurting. But listening for the gun to go off for the next race.
We have since adopted three more times and have been blessed with three beautiful little kids. One of the first things we have done with each of these guys when they have come home is buckle them up in our trusty B.O.B. running stroller and head off road for a long run in the woods with them. I have logged countless miles pushing one of these three off road, up hills, in races. You name it – we’ve run it. The bonding we have experienced through running has been incredible.
My 6 year old still wants to squish herself into the stroller in which she barely fits and go for runs with me. My 5 year old has started developing a love for running on her own – and can be seen logging 400 meter repeats at a local high school with me. And my little man – our newest edition – is still getting broken in but his smile says it all when I strap him in and head into the woods. He’s grinning from ear to ear while munching on his Cheeze-Its.
I’m a runner.
And I have heard it said that “runners know suffering.” And for me this is true on several levels. But running to God has transformed that suffering into something positive and literally saved me life. It’s the best race decision I have ever made.
I know this race is far from over – but with my running partner – I find very little that intimidates me any more.
Hebrews 12:1 says:
“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
And that is EXACTLY what I intend to do.
I have committed to running 76 races to honor the 76 days that our son Brighton was here on earth. You can do something cool like that too by getting involved with one of the best ministries I have ever been honored to work with. Why not consider running a race with the incredible folks at Sixty Feet? Who knows – you just might end up with a running partner for life.