The Movement of Healing
By Amy Javens • CycleLife Studio
Pastor Randy will be performing an opening prayer this Sunday (Oct. 3) for a special open-to-the-public Worship Ride at CycleLife. More info at the end of this post.
"The divine meaning of competition is soulfulness in the outer life. The supreme meaning of competition is the perfection of oneness in the inner life." - Author Unknown
When asked what my training, competition, and passion for sport means to me on a faith level, this quote comes to mind. It closely reminds me of this Bible verse:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4
I guess my "story “ goes back to 2001. It was the year my last child was born and the same year my mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Being a young mother myself at that time, I had the typical challenges that come with raising three young daughters.
After my mother’s diagnosis I became a member of the “sandwich generation”. I had to learn how to cope with and help a diminishing parent, all while doing my best to raise my own children. This was emotionally and mentally challenging for me; watching my mother’s health fade was depressing and often times heartfelt tortuous. I helplessly watched my mother slowly forget things and, eventually, me. How was I to hold it all together and stay strong when emotionally I wanted to fall apart?
Being an athlete my entire life, I have always sought refuge and peace in movement. It is movement that has always brought me to the core of myself and has allowed me to become more mentally and emotionally clear in thought.
As a kid I was the pesky, spunky, and active tomboy little sister who was always trying to keep up with older siblings. I would only finally rest my body when giving in to sleep at night. I think this is why my mother put me in an array of sports at a young age. She knew I had to move to be a better and more calm child. Sports continued in to my adulthood as a high school and collegiate athlete then as a professional athlete and coach.
In biblical times, people would mainly move to run in to battle and from threats of danger. Today, we mostly run to compete in races and to maintain our health. For me running and movement has served both. I face my own battles and threats better whenever I have the security of movement in my life. For me, movement was training and finding a reason to keep myself training. The calming, meditative state that coincided with long hours of training was my sanctuary and prayerful time in moments of trying to sort things out.
It sounds contradictory to say my mother’s illness was a blessing in disguise and I feel a bit shameful to say that. But it was from her suffering that I was able to grow as a mother, athlete, and Christian. Knowing faithful person my mother was, she would have wanted it just that way— to help me and the others she touched in a similar way. It forced me to move in a direction of life where I found comfort and empowerment to be my best self and to serve others with a gift or skill.
After my mother’s diagnosis I started to participate in endurance sports. First running marathons, eventually taking up triathlons, and then Ironman distance triathlon competitions: swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. Eventually I competed as a professional on the Ironman circuit . This life became a way of coping, mediating, and praying to find meaning in the sadness I felt. Each time I dove in to a swimming pool, put on my cycling helmet, or laced up my running shoes it became a symbolic way for me to go to battle to find God’s truth in life’s happenings.
In a way, suffering in training or racing allowed me to rejoice in the ability to endure and grow in my character and perspective of what really mattered and the direction God was guiding me. This suffering, which could be excruciating at times, helped me make peace with how God wanted me to grow through it.
In the decade after my dive in to endurance sports, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, my father with Lou Gehrig's disease, my husband and two daughters with Celiac disease, a daughter with autoimmunity neutropenia, and my mother-in-law with Lymphoma. We made our fair share of routine doctor visits on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis.
I feel that the initial experience with my mother’s illness prepared me for what was to come with these later hardships and equipped me with a perspective to endure, continuously seeking hope and prayer.
My mother passed on December 29th, 2011, my father the same day two years later, and my mother-in-law just last year. During these times my safe haven was the meditative and powerful prayerful I found in endurance training and racing. Often times in competitions, I would write the name of a suffering loved one on the back of my race number bib with prayers for them or I raised funds beforehand to help efforts to cure their illness.
Some people like to gather to worship, others with music, and others with dance; for me, it was swimming, cycling, and running that gave me time to reflect, pray, and worship God. I felt closer to my creator and something that resembled the suffering that Jesus and my loved ones had to endure— giving me perspective of what enduring truly meant.
My years of elite competition have since come to an end. Since then, I’ve had time to ask God: “What’s next?” He has answered me in many exciting ways. The path I took 20 years ago, thanks to my mother, has opened opportunities for me to share my gifts for the good of others.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
I now coach others who were just like me, seeking endurance in sport and often times in life. I am the national training coordinator for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training coaches and charity team. They raise funds to help eradicate blood cancers. The month I started my job with LLS was the same month my mother-in-law was diagnosed with blood cancer. A battle that she lost 8 months later.
Most recently, I have opened up a gathering place for people from all walks of life and abilities to cycle together in downtown Sharon called CycleLife Studio. It is here I share my love of cycling with others in a happy and positive community, so that they too, can feel empowered in body, mind, and spirit like I did the first time I started pedaling my bicycle.
I invite you to join in a special beginner-level Worship Ride this Sunday (October 3) and enjoy prayerful worship together in movement and fellowship!
Join Pastor Randy along with Amy this Sunday (Oct. 3) at 1:00 PM at CycleLife Studio in downtown Sharon for a free beginner-level Worship Ride. Pastor Randy will deliver the opening prayer and instructor Danielle will lead a class of fellowship, worship, and positive uplifting music. To join this free class, call (724) 359-0559.
Amy is an educator and a professional endurance coach with QT2 Systems, LLC and a general fitness coach and owner of ScriptFit, LLC and CycleLife Studio. She serves as the QT2 Systems training coordinator for Team In Training, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s charity team. She develops training resources, works with cooperate teams, and educates athletes and coaches within Team In Training. She has 30 years of experience in the industry and was a former professional triathlete. Honors include 2017 IM Los Cabos and 2015 Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance overall female champion. Her personal bests include 9:25 for IM and 4:26 in the 70.3 distance. She enjoys working with those who are just starting their fitness journeys to world championship qualifiers. Amy and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their three daughters.