Out of a desire to get in shape and shed some pounds, I started doing something last year that I said I would never do – I started running.  After a few months, people asked me if I was training for a race.  I had nothing in mind other than my health.  I was then approached about running in the Piedmont Women’s Center 5K.  Our church partners with this wonderful ministry, and this fundraiser was raising money for their important work.  With the goal of supporting the cause and simply finishing the race, I signed up for the challenge.

After hearing I entered a race, my boys (9) wanted to run as well.  Since they had a 1-mile run for kids, I entered them into the kids’ race.  When the day finally arrived, my daughter (5) came out to support the guys.  Once she saw the race, she pulled on my shirt and asked, “Why can’t I run in the race?”

“Well, darling, you never said you wanted to run.  Do you want to run in it?”

“If my bubbas can do it, I can do it.”

“I believe that you can do it, but you didn’t come dressed to run.  You’ve got ruffles on your shirt and socks.  You don’t have your tennis shoes on.  Are you sure you want to run?”

She gave me that serious stare and sincere nod which tells me she means business.  I registered her quickly and got her near the starting line.

As the horn started the race, my boys and many other kids did everything we asked them not to do – they began to sprint.

As each child began to tire out during the first lap and have to slow down to a walk, Gloria kept moving up the pack.  While some kids stopped the race in tears, others continually transitioned from a run to a walk to a jog, Gloria kept a steady jog with rosy cheeks and never slowed down for the entire mile.

As she ran into my arms after crossing the finish line, I was so very proud of this tiny yet brave girl.  She finished the race!  She didn’t let anything slow her down.

While she didn’t finish the race in first place, she showed more determination than anyone I had ever seen.  I can say with the utmost respect: she ran like a girl.  While she likes to be coordinated in her attire and stylish in her wardrobe, she didn’t let that hinder her from working hard for a great cause.

As I watched my kids finish their race and I endured through mine, I realized something – we ran so that others could run.  The goal of Piedmont Women’s Center is to provide the help and support for pregnant women who desire to choose life.  Instead of terminating a pregnancy through abortion, Piedmont Women’s Center comes alongside women in order that the life inside the womb can see the light of day.

We live in a time that is in desperate need to protect the rights of women.  

For too long, many cultures have oppressed women and not given them the right to choose.  To run.  To succeed.  To live.

As I watched my little girl run across the finish line, I was thankful she had the opportunity that day to make her decision to run.  What I desire now more than ever is to give other little girls that same opportunity.  Some of these precious girls are still in the womb.

For all those who pit pro-life people against pro-choice people, have we ever considered that being pro-choice for women should include the opportunity for little women to make the same choice?  

Protecting the rights of women is best provided by giving those little women the choice and the opportunity to live.

We run because they can’t yet.  We work so that they will be able to as well.  We fight for life because we don’t want the world to miss out on what those determined, rosy cheeks can do.

I’m thankful that my daughter runs like a girl.  Determined.  Fierce.  Purposeful.

And I’m thankful that her dedication will help girls yet to be born to be afforded that same opportunity.

I learned my lesson from last year, and I already have the entire crew signed up for this year’s race.  Why?  Because she runs like a girl.  And there’s nothing in the world like it.  Here’s for more girls being able to run behind her.

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.