FYI – this is a series. If you want to start from the beginning, you can go here.
Might I invite you to head over to the Facebook page here? We’re continuing our house-warming party over there. All kinds of fun goodies will be given away each day this week so you won’t want to miss!
Before we roll into the next chapter, the one where I meet Jason and we live happily-ever-after (snort), we need to go through a few details that make this whole story worth telling.
Let’s back the truck up a bit to January – the month in which I separated from my ex-husband.
I was 27 years old and scared out of my gourd. This was absolutely not how I envisioned my life going whatsoever.
Towards the end of January (2001), I woke-up and thought to myself, “I’m going to train for the mini-marathon.”
This may not sound earth-shattering to you; however, you should know I had never been much of a runner.
As in, I hated running.
The running group I was encouraged to join met at a local mega-church. I thought nothing of it and signed up.
I registered to run the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May and took-off.
Turns out, it was the most perfect therapy a girl could imagine.
During the dreadful, bone-chilling months of an Indiana winter, like Forrest Gump, I just started running.
Running away, but unbeknown to me, running to. I ran with tears streaming down my face– real tears camouflaged by the brisk winds of a Midwestern January. Those winds gave me permission to cry with reckless abandon and no one else had to know because everyone had tears streaming down their faces. Yet mine were real.
Only God and I knew the origin of those tears and the authentically-hurting, searing-with-pain heart that produced them.
I was one confused girl, turned upside-down.
I didn’t make the greatest of choices. I started to date someone in my running group before I even filed for divorce. The weekends were party-time. I spent money I didn’t have because I thought those things might somehow fill the mammoth-sized hole eating away my heart. I was on a runaway train. Literally.
But then there was a particularly rough day and I found myself lacing up my running shoes, the predictable tears streaming down my cheeks even before I could get outside.
You don’t experience a divorce and a death within a month of one another and not wonder if there’s something happening in the spiritual realm.
My curiosity was piqued about God and His ways and who was Jesus anyway?
But before I could even go there, I had some stuff to get off my chest.
As I stood in the living room of my parent’s home, I slide down the wall in tears.
“Why?! Why, God? Why?!,” I demanded. “If you are so good and so faithful and so wonderful, then why on earth do I feel like your red-headed stepchild?” (Pardon the expression. I actually think red hair is beautiful.)
I did some pretty serious yelling. I cussed. I threw my other running shoe across the room.
I was like Jacob who wrestled an angel all night long – except I was wrestling God.
After an hour or so of ranting and raving, I quieted. I sat in the thickness of it all, unsure of where to go or even what to do.
I said some pretty horrible things to God and I wasn’t sure if a lightning bolt would emerge from the sky and take me right then and there to the pits of hell once I stood-up.
I walked across the room and retrieved the shoe I had thrown. As I was lacing it up, I remembered a CD my aunt had given me a few weeks prior.
Michael W. Smith’s Worship CD.
I dismissed it when it was given to me because I thought Christian music was a little too syrupy for me.
But something (ha) told me to find it, stick it in my Discman (Seriously. Can you believe we used to run with CD players on our arms?) and go.
So I did.
And the seeds that had been planted during my youth began to sprout . . .
Waiting with bated breathe….
Thanks, Jen! We are nearing the end of the story so you won’t have too much longer to wait! :)
Well, now wait. The story is still unfolding, of course. But we’re getting to the point where you will all be caught up to where I am now. Just had to clarify because in NO way do I have this all figured out! HA!
Natalie, I ran that mini marathon. only one I ever did. I remember those cold training runs with the tears streaming, (and um, a few other things streaming)so I can totally picture you. so wish I had known you then, because I ran that thing alone. well, I had a running partner for the actual run, (some man I had only met at the training runs who had the same pace), but I arrived and left all alone with no one to cheer me on. most amazing thing I ever accomplished, but so unbelievably sad to be alone in the midst of bazillions of people.
Oh, Lisa. How I would have LOVED to have known you at that time. We would have had a ball crossing that finish line. I’m going to run it this year again. Want to join me? You can have a re-do and it will be a whole lot more fun…
thank you Jesus for telling me to give the CD to my precious niece, natalie. how very proud i am of you and Father is even more proud. you are a beautiful, Godly woman, wife, mother, daughter, niece, cousin, grand daughter, and friend of God. thank you natalie for all you do for the Kingdom of God and others. Love you foreverk, aunt nancysue
I’m so thankful for you, Aunt Nancy. You are an obedient vessel of God. You listened to what He wanted me to hear and you shared it – even when I didn’t want to hear it.
It just goes to show you how the small things we do, things we don’t even think about, can have a transformational effect on someone. I’m sure you didn’t think all too much about giving me that CD but God knew the impact it would have and He knew you would be the one to do it.
Love you guys . . . :)
I love knowing your journey Natalie. I feek I'm living right now in what your pain felt many years ago. I'm not going through a divorce, but just other big life things. I'm surely blessed by you and forever grateful for the life lessons I've learned through your story. Such amazing pots of clay we are!
Now about that red headed step-child….;)
Another beautiful post. I’m a new runner. I ran my first half-marathon in September and will be flying back home to New York to run my first full marathon this Sunday (yay!) Running, for me, has been a cathartic release.
It’s taught me self control. I learned to let everything out on the pavement, much like you did. It also helped me to focus on the ultimate prize, which the Apostle Paul charges us to: “So let us fix our eyes on the Jesus the author and perfect of our faith”
I’ve run every race with perseverance believing that no matter what comes my way along this grand journey of life, God is working it for my good–to conform me into His image.
Looking forward to the rest of your story!
Shakirah, we are such kindred spirits, aren’t we?
I will be cheering you on this Sunday from Indiana – YOU. GO. GIRL.
I love your reference to fixing our eyes on Jesus and running the race with perseverance…I find there are so many faith correlations with running…
Good luck, sister! I know you will do a wonderful job!
Oh, so funny…You are a beautifully lovely redhead my dear – and did you know I have a bit of red these days, too? I love it. Pardon the expression…I'm so sorry, dear friend. I need to jump over to our prayer page but just know I'm lifting you up…