My Life's Stories
Inspired by the testimonies of others and the invitation given to me a few weeks ago to share my own, I have created this space on my blog to share My Story. Here is the introduction and an invitation to read along as I share My Life's Stories to give a Testimony of God's Goodness. Along the way, I hope you will also be inspired and equipped to start recording your story.
Comfort and ease, we all seem to long for these things. In fact, the craving for these two things can sometimes steer our lives in ways we don’t even want to go. We buy this or we avoid that. We commit to this and we cross off that. Often using balance, safety, and precautions as our guideposts. Somedays, I even catch myself avoiding certain routes when running simply because I want a more comfortable workout. (You know the ones that have too many hills or are straight into the wind.)
Does this make me stronger?
Does this help me really get ready for the unpredictability of terrain or weather I will face on race day?
As parents, many of us have bought into the notion that our primary job is to provide a safety-first, predictable, and stress-free childhood for our children. Headlines of blogs read:
Okay, so I made the titles up, but they generalize the posts that float around the sphere of social media “helping” all of us know just what we can do to get all the things right. Sending the message, we need to get all the things right. (Those blogger people are doing it, so why aren’t you?)
We can easily get caught up in the “just right” and the “perfect life now” messages. Sometimes causing us to begin to believe it is possible to be doing it all right. And if we get it all right, we will have a happy life, happy kids, and a home that will make us feel comfortable and safe until the end of time.
But here is what I have learned from my imperfect childhood and teenage years, the not-so-perfect days, the ones that caused me deep pain and confusion, didn’t ruin my life! My parents “failures” (in quotes because I really don’t see them as failures) and the strife and chaos that is a natural part of the coming of age process, whisper of suffering but not of lack of love.
In fact, some of the growing pains of my youth (seemingly “caused” by the rules and boundaries set by my parents), I now see as the most sacrificial acts of love. They may have caused some momentary pain, but they kept me from the deeper more destructive pains that would’ve come from allowing me to do what I thought was best from the point of view of my developing brain, maturing emotions, and lack of experiences with real-world consequences.
Yet, the most amazing result of some of the pain I experienced in adolescence is that it led me to one of my greatest passions--running. As you will see in the story I am sharing today, running didn’t just become a passion, it has literally brought me wholeness of mind, soul, and body. It has developed into a physical spiritual act of worship. And no matter my address, running has been the onramp to many rich and life-changing friendships.
And why did I begin running?
Because I was hurting, confused, and feeling alone. I was lost and words weren’t what I needed to speak or hear. I needed space, endorphins, and destinations. I needed to learn to see the unique design that the Creator set in me before time began. God knew he would lead me to that understanding on dusty country roads, on 400-meter tracks, on foreign city’s pavement, along mountainsides and rivers, and on the quiet city streets around the places I would call home.
Jennie Allen, in her book, Restless, poses this question:
“What if the things that have caused the most hurt in your life became the birthplaces of your deepest passions?”
For me, this has been true. My teenage years were painful. Not just because of what happened at home, but because of other struggles at school, with friends, and life in general. Yet, I can see how all of it built me into someone both stronger and more compassionate than I would have been without the struggles that hurt.
I didn’t have a perfect childhood. I didn’t have perfect parents. I didn’t have a perfect home. I experienced some hurts from the the people who loved me the most (And I am sure I hurt them too!). It goes without saying, that certainly the good times built in me the security and confidence I needed, but the hurts had a role too. They pushed me toward running which would later pushed me toward God, which would later become one of the few steady things that stuck with me throughout my life. In addition, I believe my career in education has more to do with the pains I experienced in my teenage years than the fun times I had.
So, as you read, When She Started Running, Story No. 3, I pray you too will see how God has used some of the painful experiences of your life to lead you to a passion that gave you the opportunity to know yourself and your God more deeply and truly.
Comfort and ease won’t get us to the places that we want to go. They do not demand of us passion or courage. Let’s put down comfort and perfect and pick up doing the best we can with what we have. Let’s believe that our imperfect, self-sacrificing, boundary setting love will trump getting all the things just right. Lastly, let’s choose to believe that out of some of our most gut-wrenching pain can come a redemption story that sets our hearts ablaze for God and compels us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).
Jaclyn is a wife, mom, educator, visionary, and avid runner who uses her writing to pick up and examine life, culture, faith and running, probing to discover the awe of God who is sovereign over it all. Join her on her journey at jaclynloween.com. She is a firm believer in the powerful, effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out theGreat Commission. Because we are stronger, healthier and lovelier when living on mission together, she desires to help others know their unique design and purpose for such a time as this.