Today, Helen speaks to us about how her faith has grown through her incredible running record, her new business and how excellence can be a lonely journey.
Tell us a little bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in the Dominican Republic. I had an amazing childhood, until we moved to the US. I lost my identity, my voice, dreams and hope because of the language barrier that impacted me, until the start of my college years.
What is a biblical passage inspiring you at the present time? The book of Joshua.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Daily renewed faith to face each day’s faith demands.
Profession: Personal Trainer and founder of URNX.
Walk us through a day in your life: Early rise with devotional time, exercise, train clients, and work on URNX.
How do you incorporate your connection with God into your daily, secular work? If you had asked me this question 5 years ago, I probably would have said that I shared how my connection with God is providing guidance through His word and creating opportunities for me to display His character with the people I come across. But that’s not my reality today. Don’t get me wrong, He is still doing what He was doing 5 years ago, but my personal situation has gotten more complex, and my connection with God has become literally a life line, the same way He was for the Israelites. My current situation is very uncomfortable. Depending on God for everything is not as glamorous of an experience.
First, I have to learn how to truly surrender everything within me. That includes, what makes common sense, my thoughts, my expectations of how God is going to do things, and timing. Waiting every day for the ‘mana’ and brook to appear requires a renewed faith that I am now learning to experience. How does one explain this life’s journey to a secular crowd? I barely understand it myself, but He is giving me the courage and words to share where He has me, right now.
“How does one explain this life’s journey to a secular crowd? I barely understand it myself, but He is giving me the courage and words to share where He has me, right now.”
What do you think is something, we as Christians can bring to the wellness sphere? This is a challenging question, because I don’t know if we as Christians know how to handle stress and anxiety. We should. I should. We believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and a God that knows the plans that He has for each of us. They are plans for us to prosper and not to harm us, right? John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We should bring this to the wellness sphere, but, do we know how bring it to our Christian sphere?
How do you incorporate your faith in your fitness and wellness practice? Great question, because I have discovered that there are multiple ways to incorporate my faith without talking about God. The best approach is how I live my life around them and how I make decisions and open up to them about my current journey. Like in the book of Esther.
You are probably the person who has run the most miles, that I know, personally. Tell us about your accomplishments and how your faith journey has helped you accomplish that: Where do I start? I don’t know what pushes other ultra-marathoners to push-on uncountable miles for hours after hours. This is not a team performance sport, on the contrary, it is a lonely and isolated journey. My experience was very personal, and it tested my faith journey from all different angles. I was going through a very difficult and complicated experience, and the only thing that could surpass the pressure I was under, was to run a 50 mile ultra. I know that may sound crazy, others take a vacation, go shopping, but I didn’t have the financial means beyond my entry fee. I knew that it would [be] extremely challenging and time consuming, but I needed to do something beyond what I was juggling at the time, to feel strong, accomplished, and alive.
My personality welcomes challenges, but this one was going to be one that was going to break me, or reshape me to be who I am today. I did not have the faith that it was going to take to accomplish this ultra, but as I started training and spending 50+ hours per week running, I started talking to God, listening to sermons, praise songs, and at times, running in silence. Each day, I felt God was waiting for me to go on our next run. It was very intimate.
At times, I cried during my runs, and at times I felt that I had wings. Visualizing my accomplishment from the start of my training was very powerful. I saw myself finishing strong, in first place, in second, in third, and so on. I never saw myself defeated, or last. By the time I completed my first ultra, I felt that I had a better understanding of what Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Although the faith that I had at the time did not helped me accomplish my first ultra, by the time I completed it, my faith was all I had.
“I knew that it would [be] extremely challenging and time consuming, but I needed to do something beyond what I was juggling at the time, to feel strong, accomplished, and alive.”
What did you learn the most from those experiences/ competitions? That I was getting stronger spiritually, mentally and physically. I am also facing life’s challenges differently. I am stronger and at times, I welcome them. Not afraid. I know I will end well.
What advice do you have for a young woman who wants a job like yours? I would start with a couple of questions: When was the last time you did not have control of a situation? How did you handle that situation? If you are not ready to experience this feeling almost weekly, think about doing this job a little bit longer. If you are ready, you will have a blast.
Did you feel particularly called to go into this profession? No, but I felt that my past personal experiences opened up an opportunity for me to make a career transition. But I did feel called to start my own company (URNX) and become an entrepreneur.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Undeserved Favor.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? When I was 18 years old, while facing my brother’s illness.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Lacking everything to make it day-by-day.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): The book of Joshua, every week. It is teaching me a new level of trust and expectation in God that I have never experienced before.
Top three essentials: Vision. A friend. Journal.
How did God speak to you recently? To trust Him that ‘tomorrow’ there will be mana to take care of my situation… and the mana showed up.
Hobby: Running, weight training. Now, that I am a founder and CEO of URNX, my time is limited to do much more, these days.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Have at least one friend that is searching for God’s guidance and will like you. Find biblical characters that might be going through the same challenge or phase and learn from their strength, obedience or disobedience. Visualize God fighting for you, daily, to give you His best.
“Visualize God fighting for you, daily, to give you His best.”
Favorite person in scripture? It has been Moses for years, but since January, I have been hanging out with Joshua.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He won’t leave you nor forsake you.
How do you leave your mark on your community? By serving.
Favorite holiday? Christmas.
A goal you have? To take URNX nationally.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: I run a marathon in CA, every year in Feb. My entire family gets together to support me, and then, we watch the Superbowl together.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? What did you see in me?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Health, wellness and fitness.
What does your morning routine consist of? Devotion and prayer. Shower. Breakfast.
What is on your nightstand? Water bottle, phone, journal and hair clips.
Define Christianity in a sentence: A journey with a GPS and built in system (GOD) that is constantly recalculating.
For more Helen:
Until next time, keep witnessing!