There I sat on that blustery Midwestern-winter day, sobbing into my hands and wondering where everything went so wrong.

I was in the middle of divorcing my college sweetheart – the one who everyone knew I would marry and live happily ever after. My father had just passed away unexpectedly. And I was just starting to heal after choosing to have an abortion four years prior.

“Is this all there is?” I wailed. “What am I doing wrong?” I lamented. I wasn’t sure who I was lamenting to, but lamenting I was.

A few moments later, a wild hair emerged and it hit me: I should run the Indianapolis 500 Half-Marathon.

This was clearly a divine revelation because I had never run a day in my life – nor had I ever possessed the desire. Goodness gracious – the only time I ran was when I was being chased.

I researched training programs and discovered a running group that met near my home – at a church.

Every Thursday evening, I spent two hours running with this group and meeting at the church afterwards to discuss topics runners like to discuss like stretching, how to get your mileage finished each week, and bananas. Eat lots and lots of bananas, of course.

I also walked right by a beautiful sanctuary filled with the loveliest stained-glass cross I had ever seen. Something about that cross spoke to me. I now know it was the nudge of the Spirit, but a seed was planted and I began to wonder about this Jesus some of my friends seemed to know.

I would be a tough sell because I had some hard questions for Him. Why did my father struggle with alcoholism and as a result, leave me feeling unloved, unchosen and abandoned? Why was I bullied incessantly in middle school and high school? Why did I look to boys to give me my worth and as a result, suffer hurts I should not have had to suffer?

Why was I forgotten?

Interestingly enough, during this exact time, I met a woman who worked for a group called Priority Associates. Their purpose is to meet with individuals like me and answer hard spiritual questions – just like the ones I had been seeking to understand.

Marcy wasn’t the least bit judgmental. She wasn’t pushy. She didn’t think any of my questions were dumb. And she told me how I could become a new creation.

I learned that it’s OK to grieve the circumstances of my upbringing. When sin entered the world, it impacted everyone. Unfortunately, my father’s alcoholism and the feelings of doubt that surfaced in me were the result of that fateful day in the garden so many years ago.

While God doesn’t make those things happen, He does use sin for His glory. He will turn ashes into beauty every. single. time.

My father’s sin is part of my story.

Those bullies? The ones who threatened to cut-off my long hair and made up rumors about me that weren’t true? Their sin is part of my story.

Those mistakes I made with boys who I thought could fill in for my missing father? That sin is part of my story.

I was never forgotten – I just felt like I had been forgotten. Thankfully, feelings aren’t always reliable.

Becoming a new creation has set me free from the chains that grew out of lies. Where the spirit of the Lord is . . . there is indeed freedom.

Did it happen overnight? Did everything become rainbows and unicorns as soon as I became a believer?

Oh, if only it were that easy. Becoming a follower of Jesus was just the start of my transformation – and I’m still transforming today.

During this journey of faith, we transform and we heal – wash, rinse and repeat.

Today, I’m blessed to write books for women on how to break free from sin. I am a conference speaker at women’s ministry events. And I share my story readily on my blog and in my real, everyday life.

Our stories are really just a part of one big story God is telling through us – and they all begin, and end, with Jesus.

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