I, like many people in my state, was raised in the church. My parents dressed us nicely and we attended church faithfully every week. My mom and dad are examples of who God wants us to be. Following their example, but somewhat confused by the whole becoming a Christian thing, I told them that I believed and was eventually baptized. I went on through my life, ladedadedaing, not thinking much about it.

Later. I became involved in my church’s youth group, though I never felt that I was good enough to be around those folks. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t there to learn more about God. I was there to find a boyfriend. I did do that, in a round about way, as he was a cousin to one of the youth group members. But this boyfriend nearly destroyed my life, emotionally and physically. It was the first time I contemplated suicide. That is when I started running.

In college, I continued to be involved in FSA, again hoping to meet a special someone. To read it now, I think I was very foolish. I played along, but never felt connected to God on a deep, spiritual level. I was still too busy running.

I did meet a special someone in college, my first love. We had a fun life for five years, then some things happened that tore us apart. There was my mental break, when the depression that had plagued me for years took hold and sent me down a spiral. This was the second time I contemplated suicide. This was followed by my pushing to marry him when he wasn’t ready and the surprise and fear of a baby who was not to be. I could not tolerate all of this emotional heartache, so I kept running.

Finding an independent streak, I bought a house I was not prepared to pay for, engaged in risky behavior in the hopes of still finding true love, and worked like a madwoman. I became depressed and contemplated suicide a third time. I was still running.

In my early thirties, I thought I’d finally found who I was looking for. He was a man of God, which was the type of man I’d always been told was best to have. We quickly married and settled into a life together. By the time the bloom was off the rose, so to speak, I was pregnant with our oldest child. Here finally was the culmination of my long-desired dream, my own family. Nevermind the cracks underneath the surface and the emotional abuse, hidden in the context of Biblical passages. This path continued onward. I supported him through school, I nursed him through cancer. I was trying to be a good Christian wife through the emotional abuse. After 8 years, I decided that I could no longer tolerate his behavior that wasn’t going to change, nor should my kids be raised in a home with turmoil. So I grabbed the kids and kept running.

During this time, I received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Finally a name for how emotionally unhinged I was. I started meds and waited for it all to become magically better. But I was still running.

My youngest son was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old, in the midst of his father’s health scares. I threw myself into fighting tooth and nail for him, daring anyone to challenge me in this arena, lest I tear them apart with my mama bear claws. Inside, I grabbed my kids and was still running.

I was an angry mess of a human being, and I was still running. I moved from church to church, trying to keep up the appearance of a “good” Christian, yet I was still running.

I started attending Newspring Church a two years ago, not because of me and my needs, but because they had the only special needs class of any church in my area. Little did I know what impact this church would have on my life. I stopped running, and God started tugging. See, all of my running had actually been running from God. In my mind, I thought God might be real, but I never stopped running long enough to allow my heart to feel the same way. I don’t think I really understood what it meant to follow Christ, what it meant to be a Christian. From the first Sunday that I attended, God started tugging at me. I started hearing this voice, saying “Come to me.” I kept resisting, thinking I needed to get my life in order before I made that step. I cried every single service because the tugging kept getting stronger and stronger.

Then this past sermon, Pastor P said some words that clinched it for me. The cross is for sinners, procrastinators, and church people alike. Well I was all three of those. So I stopped running from God and instead ran towards Him.

I know my story isn’t over. I’m not wrapped up in a cute little bow to look pretty and perfect. The storms will continue to come, but I now have the strength to make it through the storms. The strength is not in my own DNA, it comes from God.

I’ve stopped running.