This past summer, I got an injury right around Dallas ITU Pan American Cup race. After weeks of frustration and rehab without improvement, I finally got an MRI to reveal my 3rd femoral neck stress fracture. What was the culprit this time? Probably taking 10 days off from running for finals and going right back to my usual mileage or more. I was overambitious and impatient.
Regardless of how or why the injury happened, I knew there was a reason for it. There is always a reason for everything in God's greater plan, so it got me thinking. I realized that there was no way for me to get back in shape and healthy for the end of the season, so I took an extended break for the first time in my life. During this break, I studied and took the MCAT thinking I was maybe called to go to medical school next year.
More importantly, I also grew enormously in my faith. When I got back to UNC this fall, I started to get more involved in our campus ministry by leading a bible study, spending more time with the community, and diving into my prayer life. For this first time in my life, I was asking the questions 'what does God want?' and 'what is His plan' instead of 'what do I want?' or 'what is my plan?'.
Every time I started applying for medical school, I felt a deep-seeding discontent and uneasiness. One night at Eucharistic Adoration, I finally asked Him, "Can I stop applying for medical school?" Instantly, I was filled with peace, tears, and joy. This was also the moment I knew I needed to apply for FOCUS.
FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Their mission is to invite college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church; inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. As an employee of FOCUS, I will be a missionary on a college campus with the main goal of evangelization to college students.
My spiritual director once told me the best way to find God's plan is to take steps in either direction and listen to His response. First, I tried to take steps back towards professional triathlon. I thought that because my life was now centered on what was truly important, I could be an effective athlete for Christ. I was lining up possible sponsorship opportunities, getting back in contact with my coach and USAT, and getting back into shape. But once again, I was filled with uneasiness, discontent, and a pit in my stomach. As hard as it was for me to admit it, this was not God's plan, and the second I changed my mind, I was filled with peace and joy again.
Next, I knew I needed to figure out if God was really calling me to FOCUS or not. So I took steps towards what my life would look like as a missionary. I was leading my bible study, started investing in more women on campus, and led a small group at a retreat. The more I got involved as a student missionary, the more fulfillment I found. At that point, I knew I needed to apply for FOCUS.
So I applied, interviewed, and was offered a job all within 3 weeks, AND, in case you haven't already guessed it, I will be a FOCUS missionary next year! I will be going to training in Florida this June, fundraising my salary, and going to a college campus of their choosing in August.
As for triathlon, that is being put on hold. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have been given and all the people that helped me get there. Without triathlon, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Thank you, again, to everyone for your support, encouragement, and understanding. I love you all. A special thanks to all of my amazing sponsors the past couple years especially Des Moines Tri Club. I am so appreciative for everything you have done for me.
I will be praying for you all.
My life in the meantime:
Swing Dancing and the most amazing Melissa Timmermeyer
FOCUS interview weekend
The Great 8 Mates: Winter hiking and camping
Denver March for Life
FOCUS Student Leadership Summit Conference