On Running Races with Thorns

A post from a few years ago, which pairs well with yesterday’s post. Some things take years to learn. Thanks be to God for His bountiful mercy and endless patience!

“So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses…”

My goal has always been to accomplish great things for the Lord– a good goal, but one that often morphed into a prideful one. I wanted to validate my time here on Earth and stand before the Lord and say “Look at everything I did for You!” We all have our talents; I wanted to be the servant who multiplied them and spilled a large sum at the feet of my Master upon His return.

The problem? I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to prove to God that I was worth creating, that I would “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run” (Rudyard Kipling) and show up at the finish line covered in medals. St. Paul orders us to “run so as to win,” so I sprinted. I had to win the race without help, or else, what praise did I deserve? Is anything really accomplished if someone holds your hand every step of the way?

But then God sent me a “thorn”, and I couldn’t even crawl toward that line. I thought for sure I had failed. As other runners went surging by, I felt panic growing in my chest. How am I going to make it? What is God going to say to this servant who doesn’t multiply the talents in His absence? Why send me this thorn when I need to run? Oh, the ways pride can take root! Did I actually believe I could win Heaven on my own?

This year I have experienced the “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” I have been made so, so weak and humbled in my pride. But in weakness, miracles happened. Unimaginable things occurred to show me everything was going to be okay. God helped me understand what it looks like when He says “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” He doesn’t want me to list the things I’m accomplishing for Him, no… He wants me to boast about the mountains He is moving for me, to declare His greatness, even if by doing so I reveal my weakness.

So now, I let Him carry me, recognizing my need for Him. We leave one set of footprints in the sand, and I continue to wrestle with myself, praying that one day I can confidently repeat St. Paul’s declaration above and remember that “whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

A picture of me from around when this post was written, November 2018. I was eight months pregnant. I had received Anointing of the Sick a couple months prior. We had just moved into a new townhouse, which St. Joseph found for us after Hurricane Florence destroyed the apartment we were supposed to move into the month before. There were hard years behind and ahead of me, but in that moment, God had given us a few weeks of recovery before the coming hardships. And few things make a new mom more hopeful than a safe and clean nursery to prepare for her miracle’s arrival! God is good!

Published by Abigail C. R. Gripshover

Abigail C. R. Gripshover is a Catholic writer and speaker, passionate about the power of God’s love. She has been a voice for the Church online for over 10 years, encouraging her fellow Catholics to embrace the teachings of the Faith in every area of life. In the summer of 2022, she started a new journey of radical healing through radical trust in God. She is feeling called to share her story of chronic illness and God’s healing grace. She holds a B.A. in English Lit from Christendom College and works from home as a freelance copywriter and digital strategist. She and her husband, Bobby, also offer product photography services and love working with Catholic companies. You can connect with Abigail on LinkedIn to learn more about these services and find her business email address.

2 thoughts on “On Running Races with Thorns

  1. Abigail… you are a TRUE GIFT! Thank You for sharing your beautiful insights and thoughts with us each day. Your humility and docility are so evident! You show absolute TRUST in GOD’s plan and Providence for your life. That is so inspiring! Keep up the outstanding work you do! PEACE!

    Liked by 1 person

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