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  • Writer's pictureAshley Thomas

Just Keep Walking.

Longest training day to date. The official marathon is on May 16th, and I am super excited to join my team!

I am walking a marathon.

In reality I am training for one. I have yet to complete it, but I am determined to do so.

When one sets out to do something like this there is usually a why. If not, the what (tumultuous training) will quickly overpower any initial inclination you had.

This marathon came out of a desire to reflect the metaphorical marathon my team at Hope Street has been training for through our capital campaign for Shechem. At our groundbreaking in November of 2020, we acknowledged that training is complete and now we get to run the marathon. In other words, now the building gets to be built. While it will be rewarding, there are bound to be highs and lows in the process. I thought it was a great analogy and didn’t at the time realize it would turn into a real life activity, but here we are.

I’ve never been one to miss out on an opportunity to join others in doing something. Call it FOMO, or call it my ridiculous competitive energy that is looking for the next opportunity to be stretched.

In the beginning, I was determined to complete training for the simple fact I knew I needed to get in shape. I mean that’s what they tell you, that you have to look your best the day of your wedding. So watch what you eat, start your workout plan, and take all necessary measures to make sure you fit into your dress.

Now before I lose you, we all have those unrealistic and unhealthy goals. What’s worse is often the motive behind the goals. The plague of comparison, leaves us always striving for more and all too often never quite measuring up. I have wrested in this last season with comparing myself to unhealthy images of what I ought to look like.

Truth is my plan to walk a marathon with my team at Hope Street came to a pretty abrupt stop early on. Try the first day of training. I took my picture (because if you don’t document it, how will anyone know you did it?), and set out for my 10 mile trek. I felt great; I love walking, and with the right music and the perfect view – it doesn’t get much better than that for me. On the back stretch of the walk, I began to feel some discomfort – first in my calf, and then down through my foot. Almost to the point of being unbearable, but I heard the voice of the retired athlete in me “no pain, no gain – suck it up”. So I did just that, and finished day #1 of training for my marathon, or in reality day #1 of training for fitting into my wedding dress.

Not even 24 hours after my first day of training I could hardly walk. The pain in my foot was excruciating. I did all of the necessary recovery tactics from icing, to stretching and soaking my foot in some Epsom salt. Day #2 of training snuck up on me, this time I had to walk 6 miles. I was nervous, but knew I had to give it a try. I made it about halfway, before the tears streamed down my face and I called a friend to come pick me up off the side of the road. I could not go another step further.

After speaking with my (future) sister in law – I realized rest was going to be the best option. I took 4 weeks off. Initially I was SO frustrated, my great plan of having a team to hold me accountable in my wedding dress training had quickly failed. I spent the first several days being real crabby – I quickly put into motion plan B. I texted my sister and asked for the best workouts that didn’t require me to use my foot too much. This quickly faded as well, as any real movement bothered my foot and I found a voice in my head gently reminding me once again, rest.

So I rested. After two weeks of resting, I came to grips with the fact that I would be too far behind my teammates to pick training back up. I watched as they sent their updates of the runs/walks they were completing and I was sad. In my sadness, I wrestled with my unhealthy motives. It was as if God was laying the opportunity before me and asking – how could you do this in a way that brings me (God) glory? How does this support your teammates and the efforts they have made to help make Shechem a reality? Why did this become about you?

In short, I have been trapped in a season of comparison. As my days have been filled with countless hours of Pinterest scrolling (wedding planning), looking for dresses, bathing suits, etc…I have seen countless women that I point blank do not look like. Yet, my mind is filled with these images that lead me to believe that I should. I am not entirely sure who for? But whoever it is I have been determined to fit the mold. In the midst of that I have lost site of what is true.

The truth that our Father is relentlessly pursuing us with His perfect love. That perfect loves casts out all fear of inadequacy (insert tattoo #1)

The truth that He says we have dignity, value and worth.

The truth that He says we are Enough. Period. (insert tattoo #2)




More than what others see on the outside.

We know these things, but we don’t fill our mind with them often enough. At least I don’t.

Fast forward, when those 4 weeks were over, I got a second chance. I learned that God’s grace reaches beyond my own fickle motivations and aspirations. His faithfulness created a way for me to begin training, this time with a new focus and a new motivation. That I would BE different. I may not look different in the end, but I get to love myself again, as I am because I am His. That dress I am so excited to wear, gets to fit me, and my hope is that Taylor will see something beyond the exterior – to the reality that His future wife is trying so hard to be internally healthy: in my perspective, in my thought life, and most importantly in my ability to not compare myself to others.

So I am walking a marathon. My initial motive for doing it was not healthy. My unhealthy battle of comparison is still a daily struggle, but I have found a new motivation. There is a community on 26th and Capitol that takes up a huge space in my heart. There I have experienced freedom, health and new life in ways I never dreamt possible. So with each step of training, I remember my why is to give God glory. My why is to continually create opportunities for more people to see Him. My why is to remind people we were made to be known, and that far outstretches what people see on the outside, to our hearts – may they be soft, pure and deeply loved.

This process isn’t easy. I’ve learned most things worth doing aren’t BUT do you care? Like do you really care? Or is it just the new thing that looks good to say?

Why? Because…


Do you?

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