It’s been a very long time since I’ve written here. I know. To say life has been crazy is an understatement, but as wild as it has been – as high and low as the roller coaster track has taken us – God has shown up so big in so many ways. I’m not sure where to begin. Over the next few weeks we’ll catch up on everything that has been happening in my heart and mind and the ways God has been showing me His measureless love. I will start with this: He is so good.
Last week I was back home in Minnesota and Wisconsin to do some speaking and a quick trip to my hometown to see my family. It was a whirlwind, but I managed to pack most of it in. My dearest friends, family, favorite restaurants, and a run around the lake where my whole love affair with running began. It was full and deep and so, so good.
But one of my oldest and dearest friends is Anna and she always tells me if she only knew me on my blog she isn’t sure she would love me as much as she does in real life. You see, she loves my crazy way more than the parts that look pretty. She knows ME. She loves ME. She sees past all the ways I have grown and changed and she still loves that rough, sassy-pants girl that used to be too. The one far more familiar with falling down instead of falling forward into God.
Falling down is one of my specialties. Far more often than not I do things the wrong way first, until I figure out a better way. I have relationships that are broken. I speak truth sometimes that is too hard to hear. I cling to grace by the very tips of my fingers and still find myself casting judgment. Blame.
Last week I stayed at my aunt’s in Minneapolis. I can’t begin to describe how much I love it there. How much I love her. Her home is right in the heart of the most fun neighborhood with shopping, restaurants and Starbucks right across the street. It has always been one of my favorite places and to go home and be right in the heart of it feels so fun.
It’s the place where, fifteen years ago I began to run. It started out as a way to cope with life. With heartache, rejection and loss. It was my therapy and one mile turned to ten and I was hooked. It saved me. I very easily could’ve gone the other way into so many dark and downward things. But much to my own surprise, running chose me. For years, this little chain of lakes was my therapy and I pounded out so many things along it’s winding paths. Lake Harriet. Lake Calhoun. Lake of the Isles. If you ran all of them together it was about ten miles. Harriet alone only three. Every time I go home I try to run Lake Harriet. It has so many incredible memories for me of starting something so small that turned into something so big. Trusting God with my heart when I didn’t know if it would ever be okay again. Setting out on the path before me not knowing where I was going. Trying so many times to make it on my own. Every time, falling down.
I drove the mile from my aunt’s to the lake. Parked in the very same place I always did, all those years ago. I walked down to the path and took a giant breath with so many memories filling my thoughts. How those deliberate, determined steps so many years ago have carried me so far. I look back now and the landscape is so different. Honestly, I never could have imagined it. Here is the view at my favorite little lake that means so much to me.
I stopped several times to take photos because I believe every little thing in nature is a message. I am convinced God loves me so much that He sends intimate love notes through rocks and leaves, dirt paths and sunsets. I really do. Like this one. Only God places the tender evidence of His love in heart shaped leaves on the path directly in front of our feet. If only we have eyes to see.
I remembered how hard it was to run three miles all those years ago. How I took step after determined step, sometimes stopping to walk just to make it around. Those years were hard. Not only was I training my body to push past the places that hurt to find strength and endurance for the road ahead, I was also training my heart to trust God with my life. You see, I’m an expert at holding on with a fierce grip. Managing, controlling and making a way. But God’s way is not my way. I know that intimately now.
My way is often heavy, burdensome and hard. It means trying, proving, striving and fighting my way through. Falling down again and again. He says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Why do I continually run by my own strength?
Suddenly I feel the tip of my left toe ram into something hard. Before I register the rock jutting out from the smooth dirt path, I find my body flailing in slow motion forward. My arms spin as my legs work to right the angle of my body, but they cannot overcome the force that has propelled me forward. In what seems like a long, slow descent, suddenly time speeds back up to real time and I fall hard and fast to the ground. My knee cracks into another rock buried in the path, my arms and hands reach out to catch me, instantly covered in dirt. On the ground I quickly look around to see how many people witnessed my falling down so forcefully. So ungracefully. My knee is cut and bleeding, but my pride is hurt the most.
In all my years of running and the millions of miles beneath my feet, I’ve never fallen so hard. So fast. So fully and ungracefully flat on my face. But isn’t it like Him to remind us that even on our most familiar path, we may find the unexpected. That when we look too far down the road ahead, we miss what lies just under our feet. I am in the habit of falling down a lot. And there was a time I thought that was a bad thing. There was a time I believed that I needed to do everything perfectly if I was to be worthy or loved or enough. But I’m starting to understand that the falling down is the best part. It’s when we find ourselves on our knees, aware of our lack. Surrendered to Him. Grateful that He loves us enough to break us of our own strength so He can fill us with His.
Fall forward. No matter how hard the landing, He will find you when you’re on your knees. And He will gift you with His great love. And, if you’re lucky, maybe even a scar to remember it by. You are loved. xoxo