Give Me a Sign of Your Goodness

I climbed out of bed with red, tear-stained cheeks and matted hair, the first day I put on my tennis shoes to run.

Mother’s Day 2016.

“You’re going to run?” I could tell he was trying to be positive, but I could also hear the disbelief in his question.

“Yes.”

“You’ve been in bed for four days, do you think you should get up and run right away?” He asked me so carefully.

“Yes,” was all I said and he said nothing else.

We all got in the car and drove the two minutes to the high school track.

I ran around it a little more than one time, huffing, puffing – basically hyperventilating.

When I stopped, bent over and gasping for air, he said: “That was great, but you don’t have to run you know.”

“I – am – going – to -run,” I said between deep breaths. “I am going to do this.”

He looked straight back at me and nodded, “Okay. If that’s the case, you’ll have to pace yourself. You can’t do it all at once. But I’ll be right here – with you.”

 

And he was.

Both of my guys did it with me. They gave me time to run. Sometimes they came with me, to cheer me on and tell me I could do one more lap. Sometimes they ran with me.

And ten weeks after hyperventilating over a quarter of a mile, I ran four miles. I ran my heart out and as I slowed to a stop, tears poured down my face.

Just a few short months before, I had danced in my living room with the sweetest little girl I’ve ever known. We had music playing and I’d just started dancing when this song came on –

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

My two-and-a-half year old had stared at me while I danced with this sweet baby girl we loved as our own, and tears poured shamelessly down my cheeks. ‘What’s wrong, mama?” He’d asked with serious brown eyes, and I had just shook my head and smiled, speechless.

Because what else do you do when you know that a door is closing, that time is slipping through your fingers, that there’s nothing you can do but say good-bye?

As I slowed to a stop that night, while the app on my phone told me I’d ran a little over four miles, the very same song played through my earbuds –

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
‘Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun
Tell your heart to beat again

 

Two days later, I ran my first 5K race and placed in the top ten for my category.

One step at a time, I was leaving the darkness behind – telling my heart to beat again.

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There were days I stayed in bed until the sun was too high.

Days I felt like crying but my tears were dried up.

Prayers I begged God to take me home so I didn’t have to feel anymore.

Self-induced loneliness because being with people was far too vulnerable. I felt like I had to be brave when I was with people, because people don’t know what to do with grief, but I didn’t feel brave.

Days I felt so much like a train wreck, I wished a train would come wreck me.

Darkness.

Struggling with feeling like the people I loved most would be better off without me, because I was such a living mess of raw emotion.

Feeling like a stranger in my own skin.

constant wrestling match with knowing how to answer people when they asked, “how are you?” because if I answered how I really felt, it would probably just make things awkward.

I ran out all my frustration. I ran through my pain. I ran while I prayed. And God met me on the track, over and over and over again.

My prayers weren’t profound. Over and over again, I prayed one thing.

“God, give me eyes to see.”

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I have seen the hand of God.

Not once or twice, but over and over and over again.

I know His goodness.

In Psalm 86:11-13, David cries out to the Lord –

Teach me your way,(S) Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;(T)
give me an undivided(U) heart,
    that I may fear(V) your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;(W)
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me(X) from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.(Y)

David knew the faithfulness and love of God, but still He ends Psalm 86 by saying,

Give me a sign of your goodness.

David had enemies and his enemies were attacking him.

David needed a rescue.

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And who hasn’t been in that kind of darkness before –

needing a rescue?

A rescue from the broken shards of our one broken life.

In one of the darkest seasons of my life, I prayed for eyes to see, not because it seemed holy, or profound, or even because it gave me comfort –

I prayed for eyes to see because I didn’t know what else to pray.

The thread I clung to was thin, but I hung on with that meager prayer because I didn’t just believe that God was good –

I knew that God was good. 

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And then one day, I posted this picture on Facebook and an almost-stranger messaged me and asked if she could run with me.

She was brave enough to ask and I was brave enough to say yes. 

I’m not sure if we ran as much as we talked, but we became friends.

Jess is the kind of friend who rescues you when your car battery dies in the car wash. Or when you need a last minute babysitter. The kind of friend who shows up at your house, when you’re sick, with your favorite coffee. A 3 am, real-is-where-its-at, I’ll-love-you-in-your-ugly kind of friend.

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That summer I prayed for eyes to see? For three months straight? Because I needed a rescue?

God kept laying MOPS on my heart.

I pushed that thought away so many times with a gazillion excuses. I don’t know anybody. They’ll think I’m crazy. I’m busy enough. I don’t think I need more friends. Seriously, MOPS is not going to fix my problems. 

Finally I gave in.

Two years before, I had met this random lady on the beach who had invited me to the local MOPS group, so I knew there was one – but I didn’t know her or where she had told me that MOPS met.

So I googled it begrudgingly and found MOPS took place right up the street. (Of course.)

I begged my sister to come with me (which turned out to be no help for my insecurities, since she showed up late) and went to MOPS armed with cautious indifference and a list of reasons why this was all not going to work well for us.

Then this lady stood up and she was talking about the theme of the year and what we were going to be digging into, and I’m not sure I was really listening until she said –

“This is going to be the year we look up and see.”

And I didn’t know why, but I knew that I was right where God wanted me to be.

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Alli was one of my first MOPS friends. She let me into her own painful story of losing a child and it was like an instant comradery between us, even though our stories are so different. I don’t like crying in front of people, but for some reason I could always cry with Alli and not feel silly. She validated my feelings in ways that no one else had and made me feel normal.

Jessica would have never friended me on Facebook and asked to run with me, if we hadn’t briefly met at MOPS when I commented on her yellow rain boots.

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There’s more women too. I can’t name them all. Beautiful people with hearts that are even more beautiful, who love Jesus and who loved me through one of my hardest paths.

MOPS did not fix my problems or heal my broken heart, but it did shine a light in a darkness I was desperate to escape.

God uses unconventional means and normal people who live transparently and believe me when I tell you that –

God hears every single one of your desperately-spoken, hanging-by-a-thin-thread prayers.

Be brave enough to ask.

Give me a sign of your goodness. 

Put your running shoes on, girl.

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
‘Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun
Tell your heart to beat again

God is in the rescuing-business.