I like to run. If you know me, you know that this activity keeps me centered. It lifts my mood. It raises my endorphin level. It allows time for just me, which is something that is so necessary with all that’s swirling around us in the past few months. I know that to be healthy and ready for the challenges of my new normal life, I have to take that time to exercise, to listen to God, to talk with my husband, to commune with the outdoors.
I’ve always run to music. Classic rock, pop, regular rock, you name it—my playlist runs the spectrum from the Beatles to Lady Gaga, with most everything in between. Since losing Mark, I’ve run mostly sans music, feeling like I needed the quiet time to reflect, meditate, and pray. But I began to miss my tunes, and decided to phase the music back in, a little at a time. If I came across a song that just didn’t fit my mood, or made me too sad, I would just skip over it. That’s worked pretty well, although I still felt like something was missing from my music library.
Contemporary Christian music is a genre I’ve never much listened to in the past. Flipping through the radio stations in my car, I might pause and listen to a song or two, but didn’t linger long. It sounded nice. I appreciated it. But I didn’t take the time to really hear any of the songs. Since losing Mark (boy, I overuse that phrase…note to self: use something different next time), I’ve lingered longer on these stations, two of which are in close proximity on my FM dial. As I listen intermittently off and on for several days, I finally began to get it. It’s music with a message, and for a girl that enjoys good beats to run to, this may be the start of a beautiful friendship.
So yesterday I went on-line and purchased several songs, and two albums. I excitedly downloaded them, created a brand spanking new playlist (“Christian”, I know, not real original), and looked forward to running with it for the first time today. All I can say is WOW. It’s a good thing I stuffed tissues in my running vest, because I think I had the most satisfying run in recent memory. Seemed like most every song spoke to me about my current situation.
Now, I know those composers didn’t write those songs with only me in mind, even though they sure sounded like it. The more I visit with people about my loss, the more sad stories I hear in return. Whether it’s a death, divorce, estrangement, health issues, money issues—the common thread is brokenness. Physically and/or spiritually broken, we all are brothers and sisters, doing the best we can each & every day. Those songs touch on situations in different ways, with varying melodies, but each and every one of them remind us that there is hope. And we are not alone.
So I ran. And I cried. And I laughed. And as I stopped to survey our lovely borrow pit near Lake Wichita, I smile. There are ducks back on the water. There are GBH’s (great blue herons–Mark’s acronym for them) looking for fish. Folks, this is a cause for celebration. In the hot of summer, that spot was practically dry. Mark fretted because it got too low too quickly to salvage any of the fish, he would’ve moved them to the bigger lake. Hope came in the form of rain and cooler temperatures. Nature adapts, and life moves on.
Isn’t that just like us? We go through periods of drought in our spiritual lives. I’m ashamed to admit that while Mark was alive and things were grand, I didn’t thirst after the Bible like I should’ve. I didn’t pray as often as I do now. And I didn’t listen to Christian music. Amazing. As long as my life was as close to perfect as it’s ever been, I kept God at arm’s length. I knew He was there, I loved Him, I acknowledged and thanked Him for all that He’d given me. But when the rubber met the road, and I was left without a leg to stand on, He grabbed hold of me, and has not let me go.
He was there all along, waiting for me to take notice. Without a doubt, even with all of this sad stuff surrounding the boys and me, I can honestly say that I feel closer to God than I ever have in my entire life. For my family, hope came whenever I admitted I couldn’t get through this grief alone, and I surrendered everything to God. I’m adapting, with His help and direction. And as a family, we’re moving forward. What does the future hold? I don’t have a clue. My 9 year old is praying for a man to come into our lives, heaven help us.
I’m now listening to “Turn Around,” “Stronger,” “Waiting for Tomorrow,” “Do Everything” and others, instead of “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” when I run. I’m not abandoning the old tunes, they have their place. But for the forseeable future, I’m sticking with the ones that give me hope.