IMG_2322 “My morning runs have become my best prayer time with God. There’s something about putting one foot in front of the other~and survival~that lends an exhaustive focus on God.”

Tammy Mashburn~The Purge Run

The past has a way of silently shuffling in when least expected.

Borrowing words from my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail, my favorite line…

Joe, (just call me Joe), says to Kathleen Kelly, “I’m in the middle of a project I am currently tweaking.”

That’s where I find myself these days, tweaking a project. A dear friend and mentor has taken me by the  hand, walking along beside me through this process. She posed a question recently, a question that brought the past shuffling in.

I don’t often revisit the past. I possess the uncanny ability to tie it up, place it in a box and close the lid. Somewhere deep in the closet of my soul, there is a shelf I place them on. Before my Mother, who often likes to revisit the past, calls, or my very best Soul Sister, AKA~my on board therapist~, shows up;  with raw authenticity I can say that forgiveness, healing, and redemption has taken place in each one of those boxes. Mostly. Along with the grace of God.

Through my reading, quiet time, along with tweaking the project,  my past has moved square in front of me. I’m also listening to My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman, on Audible.

Oh, the glory days. Lacing up shoes in early morning darkness, heading out the door. The rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement. The ease of breath, built by endurance of layering mile upon mile.

Foreman’s words have kept me in stitches, often laughing out loud. I can relate to it all. Not so long ago, I. Was. That. Person. All of that, somewhere tucked away in one of those boxes, neatly placed on the shelf. Pieces of a previous life live on as I passed them ahead to my local high school’s cross country team. I have even been graced to see a few cross the finish line.

My mentor’s question, “did you write before?” “Before you were sick?” Her question sent me scurrying to a shelf where I pulled off words I had written long before life was interrupted. My one time “claim to fame,” so to speak, came when I submitted an article to The Running Journal and got published. Faded, creased in the middle, folded over to the exact page where my name appeared in bold black ink.

Titled, The Purge Run. I wanted to share a few of the words here with you today. Because, yes, sometimes we must look back to move forward…

“It’s been a tough week with two doctor’s visits, two trips to the pharmacy, and three missed days of work. After coming off the high of finishing my first half~marathon, a case of shingles, and a dog bite. The perpetrator hanging on by teeth for a quarter of mile. These past days had me wallowing in self pity.

As I laced up my running shoes, headed out the door, I was prepared, even expected, to loose the medication along with my morning coffee, or worse, make the dreaded call to my sweet man for a ride home.

It’s during this time I am least interrupted by the noise and distractions of life, along with my OCD and spiritual ADD. Where my focus falls on prayer and God in a steady rhythm matching the pounding of my feet.

Those who know me, know I always have a list, and if you know me well, well you know there is a list for the list. As you can imagine, with the afore mentioned ailments, did I ever have a list on this particular morning!

I began with the usual thanks for blessings quickly moving on with the list of things I wanted to have His blessing on.

As I round the turn and begin my first long incline it occurs to me that it may be time to ditch the list. Seriously asking God to please keep me from unintentionally purging all the meds that said rough week had forced me to take.

Taking a few deep breaths, I decided to “purge” all my past sins instead. You know, the ones he has forgiven me for but I have yet to forgive myself for. The kind of sin that clings like mud. I pray for the grace and mercy to let them go. 

Stride for stride I begin to name these things out loud, forgetting my queasy stomach along with the list of things, I in my arrogance, thought we should discuss.

Around the next bend lies the dreaded hill, or as I like to call it, The. Wall. I took a few deep breaths, shortened my stride, leaned into it and started up.

I made it to the top, tears streaming down my face, arms raised high in the air praising God for all he had shown me that needed letting go. 

With a higher step, I dried my face, made the turn towards home. Running lighter without the burdens clinging to my back.

Having found the gift of forgiveness. Perhaps the hardest gift to grasp. Forgiveness of one’s self.”

The race I run today looks different. It comes with a fancy cane.

Grace upon grace.

Endurance built in different ways. New places to grow. Changing me.

Looking back allows me to see The One ahead forging a new path for me. I pray I run it well.

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:4~NLT

The miles ran in a former life give me the endurance I need to run the race I run today.

“No matter how much you want to run a marathon for someone else part of it, maybe the biggest part has to be for you.” My Year of Running Dangerously~Tom Foreman

Gift of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

other places you may find me…

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