855 days. That’s the amount of time it took for me to get healthy enough to race again. For those that don’t know me or my story, here is a brief explanation of who I am:
My name is Brent Leber and I run cross country/track and field at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. I used to be a roommate and teammate of Jared Peters (the fabulous author of this blog). Similar to Jared, my college running career has been anything but normal. I don’t want to bore you with my health history, so let’s just say it’s been a rocky road. Starting in the spring of 2017 I acquired my first major injury, a sacral stress fracture. Shortly after this first injury I proceeded to have 5 more stress fractures. I’ve been to the Mayo Clinic twice and ultimately discovered my fate in the spring of 2018: a pituitary dysfunction. Basically, the pituitary gland in my brain stopped working, wreaking havoc on my bones and my entire body. All of my hormones were severely inhibited and I had the bone density of an 80 year-old woman. Not exactly the recipe you’re looking for if you’re a competitive distance runner. Luckily, I received medication (Thank you Lord and the doctors at the Mayo Clinic!) and I’m starting to sort things out again.
The 855 days that separated my last race in 2017 up until my first race this past September will forever stick with me. Not because of the delight I had running fast again in a competitive environment, but because of the difficult lessons I learned throughout the two and a half year journey. Most guys on the team probably don’t even know how much physical and emotional pain I was in. Many nights I laid down to sleep in my dorm room, tears welling up in my eyes, wondering if I even belonged at Lipscomb. I wanted to go home to Maryland. I wanted to skip class. I wanted to quit the sport and the hobby that I loved for so long. Just waking up each morning to face the day was a battle in itself. My joy was gone and my body was absolutely broken. Try walking to class with a fractured pelvis (It’s not a pretty sight). I limped across campus and I was also limping through life. However, God had his hands on me. He never left me. Not for one moment. During the nights I cried in bed, he was there. In the countless appointments and inside the numerous MRI machines, God was holding on. Looking back, God was with me every minute of every day. Without his strength I would have certainly quit running and given up. But I learned something important: God’s timing is better than we can imagine. In 2017, 2018, and the beginning of 2019 that was extremely difficult for me to grasp. But little by little, God worked in his incredible ways and I started to see progress. First, I was able to start walking to class without pain. The medicine started to do its job and my body began to grow again. My height increased, my voice got deeper, and I even started growing some facial hair! Slowly but surely, I started some light jogging, which turned into easy running, which eventually progressed into faster running. Over the period of many months, the runs started to accumulate, the doctors gave me the green light to do more, my body responded, my endurance increased, and I began to feel glimpses of what I had missed for years. I yearned for that feeling of the wind in my face and the sweat on my forehead, going through the rigors of training with my teammates. This past fall, God gave me the opportunity to put on a Lipscomb singlet again. To say I felt blessed is an understatement. I was psyched! I had been dreaming of this moment and praying over it for over two years! I simply looked up after crossing the finish line and said, “Thank you God!”
If it was up to me, I would not have sat out for 855 days. For those that know me, I have a hard time not running for more than 2 days or so. 855 days without racing felt like an eternity. But the timing wasn’t up to me. It’s not in our control. God’s timing is perfect and God’s timing is everything. Without the 855 days of pain, struggles, and countless setbacks I would have already graduated and I’d probably be working a 9 to 5 job somewhere learning how to “adult.” Instead, I’m still running for Lipscomb as a fifth-year senior. And I’ll be back again next year for my final year of eligibility as a graduate student. No, that’s not a typo. I will have been a student-athlete at Lipscomb for 6 years! It’s crazy to think about, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The 855 days changed my life. I have met some of the greatest people I will ever meet (shout out Coach Polk!) and have forged relationships that I will never forget. None of this would be possible if my health had been steady and I had graduated in the normal four-year window. But again, God’s timing is everything, and it’s perfect. Even if you don’t realize it until years later. I’m still piecing together everything that God has done. The journey has been ridiculous, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m closer to the Lord than I’ve ever been and my new dream is to help inspire young athletes as a collegiate coach someday. I want to help young people grow and overcome the challenges that accompany life as a student-athlete.
If you have read this far, I pray that you begin to see God’s timing in your own life. It may not always be the timing ideal to your schedule, but I promise God’s plans are bigger and greater than you can imagine. Just hold on and trust in Him. When we learn to value God’s timing above our own, radicle changes can happen! Since the first race this fall our team went on to win an ASUN conference title and tie our highest finish ever in the NCAA south regional championship, beating teams like Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Auburn. Our program achieved some things that have rarely, if ever, been accomplished. Point is: God’s got a plan. It may just be months or years in the making. And that’s okay.
God loves you. He’s here for you and he will never let you go. Even if you let go of Him, he will still have his loving grasp on you. God bless you today! Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me. My cell phone number is: 301-401-3453. I want to help in any way I can, so please let me know if you need a word of encouragement.
For more on my personal journey I have provided a link below: