Often I think back to the young woman I was at 21, 22, 23… Three very important years of my life; chapters in a book that is still being written. Years that, through brokenness, infused the very nature of who I am today.
Times I made decisions, felt rejection and abandonment so piercingly, that I could not stay the same. Pain so deep I literally could not stand.
And so I ran.
It was the beginning of a love affair that was the only solace to my broken heart.
There was something healing about being out on the open road with no one around, nothing to think about but just breathing. Sometimes it’s all we can do.
Sometimes it’s all we have left.
I would run early in the morning, stumbling out of the house my eyes barely open, the sun barely cresting the horizon. I can close my eyes now and vividly see the trail I would run…when the newly fallen snow cast a blanket of untracked possibility before me; an open invitation to make my own path.
It was also the start of me living out my faith. And when I say faith I mean it in the true definition of the word: a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
All I had was pieces of a life when my father shared Jeremiah 29:11 with me.
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, and will bring you back from captivity.
I was living in a broken down, old football house on a college campus in rural Wisconsin that I couldn’t even walk in without shoes. The door didn’t lock, I have no idea what color the carpet was supposed to be, the porch was falling off, and I had to shower in my running clothes and let them air dry in the room I shared with another girl.
Disgusting doesn’t even begin to describe where I had to live for 2 years. And yet, it was what I had. It was, and is, a part of my story. And a lot of healing and great faith took root in those broken down walls.
I taped that verse to a wall in my room, where I could read it every day. Several times a day. I remember standing there, fingers touching the words, aching for them to be true. Believing that they must, because I didn’t want to be where I was. I wanted more than anything to be far from where I was.
What touched me so much about the verse was not only that He knows the plans He has for me to give me hope & a future…but that I will find Him when I seek Him with all of my heart. I wanted to find Him. I needed to find Him. It was too hard to stand on my own. But I didn’t know how, and I certainly didn’t have all of my heart anymore. It was broken, and broken badly.
But you know what? I gave Him my best, and it was enough. And He has made it anew. Not the same as it was; but in a new and more beautiful form. He is a God of miracles.
Where are you? Are you stuck somewhere you don’t want to be? Living a life, being someONE you don’t want to be?
Every one of us has a story that has brought us to where we are, but it doesn’t mean we have to stay there. I found my faith when I had no other choice but to hope. I was desperate enough to hope for something better than the past for my future, and I kept running toward it. I’m still running toward it.
I wholeheartedly believe that a better future is waiting for each of us, but we have to be willing to move. We have to be willing to change, grow and learn from our experiences and our mistakes. We all have our story and there are a million reasons and excuses for us not to start, and there are plenty of people we can call to mind to blame. But that will never serve us well. That will never get us to anywhere we want, let alone a life we imagine. We must be willing to go into our past to find the source of our pain and then bravely and deliberately move forward into trust, healing and hope.
The first step to get you there is to decide. For me, that could only happen by action. Some people learn by hearing and some by sight but the most stubborn and hardheaded of us (me) need to do something. I needed to move physically in order to figure out how to move emotionally, mentally and spiritually. What I learned was that the greatest obstacle to my happiness was myself; the biggest critic of my life, my voice; and the one holding me back, was me. The truth is, I found God in the street, and He set my heart free.
Decide today that you are not going to stay where you are. Our soul knows the depth of our passion and it craves the courage to live it out loud. The faith to believe in something for which there is no proof.
God never wastes one single thing. Every experience, every heartache and heartbreak brings us closer to the person we were created to be, IF we let it. A journey of a thousand miles, the greatest journey, OUR journey, begins with a single step.
Our God is faithful and his promises are true. We don’t all have to run, but we do need to move. Not from our past, but to our future. We never leave our past behind, we can’t. It’s always with us, threatening to hold us back. But when we make peace with it, accept it for what it was and not what we wanted it to be, then we get to rewrite our story. We get to design how far it will propel us forward, to the life we were created to live.
Move. In whatever way you know how. MOVE.
If you resonated with this post and would like to read more of my story from struggle to strength, you can purchase my book on Amazon right here.