The Prodigal Daughter: “I Doubted Myself, I Doubted God. I Doubted It All…So I Ran & I Didn’t Look Back”


A wide grin spread across my face as I listened to the lyrics on the radio.

I’m in wide open spaces and I’m running to you now.

I suppose the reason I smiled was the realization of where I stood now compared to where I’d been. I mean, I was running to God now. I was embracing life. I was going towards what God had for me with open arms, and that mindset was in great contrast to the way I had once led my life. Sure, I was running to Him now, but once upon a time, I had sprinted in the opposite direction. I guess sometimes running away from life is easier than living in a painful situation or going in a direction that goes against what you desire for your little world.

When I was [20] I described life like a yard. I pictured my Daddy God sitting on the front porch, and I was the feisty young’un who jumped the fence looking for excitement. I pictured my birth into Christianity as the wayward child returning home sheepishly after many a scuffle. Papa God scooped me up, kissed my boo-boos, placed a bandage on my skinned knee, and held me until my shame left, and only love and gratitude remained.

Well, if coming up to Daddy’s porch was my salvation, then hightailing it back to the fence’s parameter was the decade that followed. In fact, I didn’t just walk away from God; I ran. I ran, and I didn’t look back. I think when skinned knees never scab over right you figure you just can’t heal. Papa probably offered a healing, but I went with the Band-Aid instead. And I found out something else too. The further you walk away, the less you’re able to turn around and look back at what you’re missing. It just hurts too bad. So you keep walking away. You run faster. You jump the fence and forget the way back home.

It all started with a boy. Typical, right? Once upon a time, I fell in love. Hard. I found the man I knew God had for me. I dreamed of marriage, children, ministry together, and me cheering from the audience as he played on the worship team. I had it all planned out.

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But then life did what it tends to do. It took a turn. An unexpected, upsetting turn. The boy was gone, my heart was broken, and doubt found me.

“Did I hear God right?”

“Had I ever heard Him right?”

I asked God these questions, and I became inflamed at His answers. He said, yes, I had heard Him right. He said, yes, that boy was the boy of my dreams, the man who would become my husband. God said the ministry was still coming, and that He had plans for our future. Together.

I couldn’t take that. I couldn’t take the answer “yes” when all the concrete circumstances around me said “no.” So I turned, and I walked away. I doubted myself, I doubted God. I just doubted it all. I said it all started with a boy, but I guess that’s not really true. It all started with pain. I had hurt and rejection in my life that had started long before a boy. I never really let those hurts heal, so the present pain was just a straw on an already crippled camel. That darn camel broke big time, and I saw no option other than to run. I ran hoping to escape heartache, pain, and anything that told me I’d be okay. I didn’t think I would. Be okay, that is. So I just booked it. It seems to me, in retrospect, that running appears like the best solution. You never figure out, until it’s too late, that running from life only makes it harder to live.

Yet I tried. For [10] years, in fact. For [10] years I tried to live a life God didn’t have for me. If we look back at it like Papa’s yard, I didn’t just leave the yard; I left the continent. I took a rocket ship billions of light years away from who God made me be. No wonder my existence felt alien.

Would you like to hear a most peculiar thing? You can’t run from God. If God has a plan for you and a calling for your life, He will bring you back to it again. Yes, the choice is always ours, but He doesn’t let us off the hook that easy. He doesn’t give up. He’s relentless. I reckon I ran so hard and fast that I ran full circle. I looked up and He had brought me back to the beginning. He brought me 1,000 miles across the country back to that boy. He pulled me from the bottom of the bottle, right outta the strip clubs and casinos, lingering hangover and all. He brought me right back to the life He had planned, right back not just to His yard, cause really, it’s all His yard, but back to His love.

He pulled me right onto His lap, into His arms, and He said, “so, are you ready for me to fix this now? No more Band-Aids.”

I’ve realized since then that “yes” from God is “yes,” and that “not now” doesn’t mean “no.” I married that boy from [20] years ago, just like I was meant to do. I hate I took the circuitous route, but I’m grateful God brought me back to it, and I know He’ll use my story for good.

I realize that God can heal all hurts, and if I’m looking for a boy or anything of this world to fix it, I’ll be left wanting. Maybe that’s what He wanted me to figure out all along.

I realize I can run all I want, but if it’s in the wrong direction, I won’t get anywhere. Unless God wants to take me there.

I’ve learned God’s promises are true, and that true character development is found in the waiting.

I’ve discovered there’s a big ol’ world out there, but if God’s not in my life then it will feel small and meaningless.

I’ve come to see that only in His plan will I find joy, peace, and contentment. And only when I seek Him first will the rest come. In fact, it will just fall into place when I set my eyes on Jesus.

I can run from pain, but it will follow me like a shadow. I can seek healing from hurt outside of Christ, but that’s just a Band-Aid.

I can run from life when it gets too hard, but only by running to Jesus will I find my true strength. Life will often times be hard, but we aren’t called to fight it on our own.

Now I run to Him, and there I find freedom, peace, and the life I always wanted.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.