03/10/2014 03:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Running to God

I am like a rusty gate. Even if you find the key, you'll have to work hard to open me up to find out what secrets are behind my door. ~10-year-old me

When I was 10, my 5th grade teacher had our class write a poem. She wanted it to be titled "I Am". We had the freedom to write whatever we wanted, as long as each sentence started with "I Am". I was excited to write this poem -- to share my words on paper with my favorite teacher and let her know from my heart who I was. I loved writing and wanted to get it just right, erasing, writing and erasing my words again. Then and now, words float around my head like butterflies and when I want to share them, I have to capture them and arrange them just so.

A few days later she asked me to read my poem to my class and I flushed with embarrassment. The ten-year-old me was no different from who I am today -- reserved to a fault. An introvert. Painfully shy. I remembered shuffling to the front of the classroom, never once looking at my classmates because that would have been too painful, and as I read my poem, my eyes never left my paper. When I finished I looked up to see Mrs. Ripley had tears in her eyes. And I knew, I knew she understood my words. She understood me.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

It was then, at ten-years-old, I was given my first glimpse of the gift God had given me. But just as I noticed her tears of understanding, I heard a snicker from a classmate. And then a laugh from another while she teased: A rusty gate? I don't get it! Why would you call yourself a rusty gate?

And then more laughter. At that moment I retreated back inside myself and forgot all about Mrs. Ripley's tears as she shushed the class and looked at me apologetically. And then I turned away from my gift -- I wouldn't write like that again for many long years.

I started running in 2007. It changed my life. And by that I don't mean it made me stronger, thinner, or even happier. It changed my life because it changed my relationship with God. People often tell me they can't imagine running such long miles because they would get bored. And yet I see it so differently. Every Saturday as I lace up my running shoes, getting ready to head out for a long run, training for the longest race I'll ever run, 52.4 miles, I find myself looking forward to what's to come -- wondering what He will teach me and show me. Every mile I run, I feel it deep within my soul -- I'm running to God. I run to Him asking for forgiveness, to pray and to thank Him for all the blessings in my life.

As a mama of four children, my house is never quiet, and I love the noise -- my house is full of precious life. But during my long runs I am offered peace and a quietness that allows my heart to listen to what God has to say to me, His child. I could never get bored knowing who I'm running to.

Some runs are just that, a run. Usually something to check off my list of 'to-do' for the day. Whether I focus on speed work or just logging the miles to build me up to my ultra marathons --just a run. Nothing more. Nothing less. But my weekend runs -- those are the runs I look forward to because they are my time with God. Every mile that I run is just one step closer to strengthening our relationship: Father and daughter.

When I started running to God, He reminded me of my gift and encouraged me to share my words. He reminded me I was created by Him, not to be the social butterfly, but the quiet butterfly catcher. And that everyone, even the quiet ones, have words to share. He encouraged me to be brave and to share my gift with others; though He created me to have a quiet demeanor, He gave me a voice through my pen.

No. I'll never get bored running because it is a treasured time.

I believe we are all given gifts. Gifts we can use to serve one another as God always intended. Some people know it right away and others, like me, were shown but maybe ignored the message for many, many years. Not fully trusting because usually we are scared what it would mean if we acted on it. A patient mother, the creative and artistic friend, the quiet encourager, a compassionate soul -- those are just some gifts I see my friends were given.

When we find ourselves running to God, He reveals the gifts he chose for us and so much more.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Photo courtesy of Nicole Scott

Never Give Up,

What is your spiritual gift? Do you ever struggle with accepting it and acting on it as God intended?

Please join me on my running journey at MyFitFamily.