If you want to change your life, you have to change your story. Years ago, I found myself in a situation that needed a definite change, and I had no idea that my choice of exercise would become so important in making life changes for years to come.
After I had my third baby, I was dealing with a marriage that was unhealthy to both myself and my children. I decided I needed to have some “head time” to myself, so I started walking for exercise. We lived out in the country and the only place I had to walk was on a dirt road across from our house. It was my head time as I struggled to make sense of the impossible situation in which I was living.
Walking time was my time. Even though I sometimes took my newborn with me, the road was dusty so more often than not, I was alone. During that walk, I did a great deal of soul searching and praying and made some major life decisions. After moving to a small town nearby and getting divorced to protect both myself and my children, I put my young son in a stroller and walked every day. Before he could even talk, he knew the route we would take and would point and babble if we went a different way. We walked in the park and fed the ducks, we walked on the sidewalks, we walked until he was too big to stay in the stroller, and eventually, I walked alone while he stayed home with the girls.
I moved around a few times over the next few years and wherever I was, I walked. If I took a trip, I found a place to walk. I bought a tredmill and used it when I couldn’t get outside. When I worked in a large school, I walked the halls after school and on weekends. Walking not only helped my health, it helped my emotional and spiritual life.
When Dylan graduated from high school and went away to college, I found myself struggling with the empty nest, so I walked while God and I planned the next chapter of my life. Some nights I walked five miles. Some nights I walked ten miles. A couple of times, I walked fifteen miles on a Saturday just to see if I could. Since I was writing stories for a national women’s magazine at the time, my walking time was when I would create stories. I would run through the details, figuring out the twists and the possible endings. I would create the story and when I got home I would sit down and write.
In addition to planning my writing, I would talk to God. I would listen to Christian music and pray. Sometimes I even talked aloud when no one else was around. If people saw me, they probably thought I was one of those homeless people that often had total conversations with themselves. And God spoke to me during this time, maybe not out loud, but nevertheless, it was a time I could listen to God. Sometimes songs came on just at the right time, and sometimes, I just knew what God was telling me.
All those years ago, I tried something different and God led me to a new place. I knew that if I stayed in the place that I was at the time, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I would be hurting my children as well as myself and even though I had made some choices in life that weren’t true to my life as a Christian, I also knew that God wasn’t giving up on me and I wasn’t giving up on God.
The next chapter of this story started a couple of years ago when I decided to start running, doing the Couch to 5K program. I ran the program diligently and I became hooked on running. I got to the point that my heart rate didn’t really go up enough to register as “exercise” unless I ran, so I ran. Now, I run until I reach my exercise goal and then I walk to give myself that thinking time.
I run because I can. I run because God gives me the health and the energy to seek him in this endeavor. I run because I made the decision to change my story and God has worked his miracle in me. He is big enough to speak through exercise and for me, this has made all the difference in my life and my story.
God is good, all the time.