The end is in sight.
The cross country championships for the GPAC are quickly approaching and with it the conclusion to our fall season.
Every race when I get cross country results I scan to check on a few runners. You see, simply finishing the race can be a victory some days. The place, times and points are of secondary concern. Did they finish?
One of those runners I scan for is Jordan De Groot. Yes, it’s taken me a little while hit control-f and type De Groot rather than Bos, but I’m learning.
I’ve been watching Jordan run since she was in grade school—working the annual Dordt Junior High Track and Field meet gets an early glimpse at some of the area athletes.
Fast forward a couple years and I can still remember seeing Jordan struggle to finish a race in high school at Landsmeer Golf Course in Orange City. I can’t remember if it was Unity’s Invite or if it was a district meet, my memory just isn’t that clear.
But what I do remember was watching her struggle to her feet and with her parents running/walking beside her, she managed to finish.
That was the start of injury challenges, and, as you’ll see as Jordan outlines in the piece following, challenges that threatened to not only derail a season but derail a career.
And now here we are.
The journey with twists and turns, starts and stops, is now reaching its final stages for cross country at least.
I hope you’ll better understand why I scan the results to see if Jordan ran and if she finished. And I think you’ll understand a little more clearly that the times and places are all good, but running the race and finishing is the real goal.
To lay yourself out for all to see is risky, but in this case I’m so glad you get a glimpse into the lives of one of our athletes.
When I began running in high school, I had a picture in my mind of what my running career would look like. The reality is that picture looks nothing like what it turned out to be. It’s been so much harder, yet so much greater than I ever could have imagined. When I started running, I envisioned achieving goals of becoming all-conference and winning team championships. I did not foresee entering a six-year injury cycle and missing countless meets and entire seasons. I envisioned the runner’s highs that come with season bests, not the tears and heartbreak that come with injury. But as I look back at my not-so-picturesque running career, I can say now that I am thankful for this journey and for the spiritual growth that God has cultivated amidst the struggle.
My journey began with a simple love for running. After joining my high school’s cross country team, I discovered that God had knit inside me a passion for running and a fierce desire to compete.
Unfortunately, I really only ran and competed like I wanted to for about a year before I entered into this cycle of chronic injury. The injury would often manifest itself in a small ache but would develop into something that would prevent me from competing fully healthy. There were times where I would be able to recover from one injury, only to be taken out by another a few weeks later. This cycle continued through high school and extended into my collegiate career.
As I struggled through the frustrations and disappointments, I knew these injuries were making me grow as a person. God used those injuries to develop in me the fortitude, dogged perseverance, and spiritual maturity that make me who I am today. I learned to trust that the story God was writing for my life would be a good one.
However, a fracture in my tibia during my freshman year of college became the biggest test of my perseverance and of my desire to keep fighting to run. In total, I spent nearly five months in a boot and reinjured the bone after my first race back. After many failed attempts at trying to get back to running, we visited the specialist once more, searching for hope and healing. We came back disheartened. I can still remember his words, “You have a lot of things going for you, kid, but running just isn’t one of them. In a few months you might be able to jog, you might even be able to run, but you will probably never compete as you once did.”
After that visit I stopped hoping. It was simply too hard for me to hope that one day I’d run again. It was too hard for me to watch my teammates compete and practice without me, so I accepted the fact that I was no longer a runner. It was the only way that I could be happy for them while I stood from a distance and watched. I was disheartened and I questioned what more God could possibly be trying to teach me. Perseverance? Check. Spiritual maturity? Check. Trusting God’s plan? Check. In my arrogance I believed that after five years of injury, there were no more lessons to be learned. I was just done.
I stopped running for a while, but quickly found that I missed running with my teammates too much to simply give up. These ladies had been with me through the joys and the struggles and encouraged me to persevere. They had become my best friends and the reason I kept trying to return. Several weeks later, I began to run again – nothing short of God’s healing hand.
Over the years there were many times when I asked for healing, but in His love, God gave me something else. I experienced numerous injuries and a lot of heartbreak and I’ve been blessed to see the fruit that has come from it. Never in my finite human mind would I have imagined that I would be blessed by this journey. It just goes to show that God and only God knows what’s best for us.
God has gifted me with the best support system, people who have pulled me through countless recoveries and comebacks. My husband, my parents, my teammates, my coaches – these people have constantly been there when I need them the most. When I have been so broken that no words came from my mouth, they were there for me. They have encouraged me, patiently listened, and taught me that God is writing my story and that He can make beauty from ashes. I am running today in part because of those around me
Today, I pray that I never take a race for granted. Each race I get to run is a gift. When I run, I remember God’s goodness and faithfulness through this journey. I run with joy because He has worked a miracle in me – the girl who shouldn’t be running is now competing healthy and strong. I am not the same person I was nearly eight years ago when I began running. Back then, much of my identify was tied up in becoming the runner I thought I could be. Fortunately, God led me on a journey of continual spiritual growth and I learned that my true identity is in who I am as a child of God.