by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here ▸
After my husband soared to heaven to be with his Savior in 2014, I wasn’t sure if I could ever run again. We were a running couple. We logged hundreds of miles running together. He pushed our daughters in the jogging stroller and pushed me to personal records. He was my coach, my confidante, and my biggest cheerleader.
When I stood at the altar more than a decade earlier and shared my wedding vows, I didn’t understand the gravitas of those words “until death do us part.” Like any blushing bride, I was thinking about the living we were going to do together.
I never dreamed cancer would be a part of our story. I never imagined I would find myself suddenly single at age 37 with three daughters, who were 2, 5, and 8.
I faced many fears and insecurities as a young widow. I often felt overwhelmed and unsure of my footing on life’s path. My husband had been my pacer, the one who partnered with me in parenting, the one who always pointed me back to Jesus and empowered me to run after my calling. Without him, I second guessed my decisions and agonized over the future. I feared financial ruin and being alone for the rest of my life.
On a daily basis, I was suddenly in charge of tasks I had depended on my husband for, like taking out the trash, doing the dishes, getting the oil changed on the cars, and locking up the doors at night. I had to manage all the finances, which required wading through piles of medical bills, pursuing insurance claims, and setting up social security accounts.
Each task felt hard and heavy.
Not only had I lost my soulmate and best friend, but I also was without my partner in parenting. As the solo parent, I attended the parent-teacher conferences on my own, chauffeured the kids to all their extra-curricular activities, and made the final decisions about discipline. I bumbled through the bedtime routine night after night with three daughters who desperately wanted my individual attention. I was one exhausted mama trying to navigate the grief journey for all of us.
However, the hardest work I had to face was not completing all these tasks alone. The hardest work happened deep in my heart as I was forced to adjust my hopes and dreams. When a loss occurs in a person’s life, it requires recalibrating. We must discover a new path and sometimes even find a new destination.
It was painful to say goodbye to the things I had built with my husband and the dreams we had cultivated together. In some cases, we have to let our dreams die to make space for new ones to grow.
A few months after my husband’s funeral, some girlfriends invited me to go for a trail run in the mountains near our home in Central California. Sometimes finding the courage to begin again is the hardest part.
I laced up my running shoes. My body quivered as I took that first step. Then I took another, and another.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Running on the trail helped me breathe again.
Out on the trail, God ministered to my soul, and lifted my spirit. I experienced His comfort in the sway of tree branches and the symphony of birds. I ran with a renewed sense of wonder and anticipation, looking for lessons as the path took me up steep hills, around curves that revealed the sparkling lake, and then back through dew-heavy grasses.
I discovered on the trail that moving forward was possible with God’s help.
Running has become like a spiritual practice for me. It’s the place where I sweat my tears, where I lament, where I count my gifts, and where I learn to lift my head even when life feels like an uphill climb.
I am reminded that the path before us is often unexpected, but God assures me He is leading. As I run, I have learned to meditate on scripture.
These words from the prophet Isaiah carried me through many seasons when I was tempted to feel alone:
“For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5)
This verse and others have helped me fight my fears and replace them with truth. I am never running alone. God is my maker and my husband. He is my coach and my pacer. The more I wrap my heart in truth, the more confidence I gain.
Friend, whether you have lost a spouse through death, divorce, or separation, whether you are single or married, I want you to know you are never alone. The Lord Almighty, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He longs to run by your side and pace you to the finish line.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young is an author, speaker, Bible teacher, and coach, who loves to help people discover God’s glory on unexpected trails. Connect with her at www.DorinaGilmore.com and @DorinaGilmore on Instagram for details about her new book, Walk Run Soar.