How a Runner Found Her Strength

By: Katrina Prater

I’ve always enjoyed running. I love exploring the world around me, pushing past the physical limits of what I can do, and most importantly, feeling strong. Running has always made me feel strong. There’s nothing like digging deeper at the very end of the race when you feel exhausted and depleted and still sprinting to the finish line. It’s exhilarating.

From a young age, I discovered my love of feeling strong that it became my “word.” It was the word that guided my life—I was a strong woman.

Strong because I lifted weights, strong because I ran, strong because I held tightly to my values, and strong because my belief in God.

But in one day, I was stripped of my strength.

It was intentionally ripped from me, leaving me wounded and vulnerable.

Nine years ago, I stood alone staring up at a kind stranger’s face. I wasn’t sure if I was at the right help window at the police station, but once he asked, “How can I help you?” I don’t think it mattered.

Instead of answering this simple question, I burst into tears, shaking visibly.

Weak, no longer strong.

Whisked back into a private room, I finally felt safe for the first time in days. As I blubbered out what happened, the officers placed a yellow lined piece of paper in front of me. Shaking, I wrote out my story.

Just two hours earlier I was walking out to my car with only five minutes to get to my campus job. I looked to my right behind my duplex and I saw him — dressed in all black and wearing a ski mask. I screamed.

My ex-boyfriend was having issues with our breakup months earlier. First, it was the constant texts, and then it was following me in his car as I walked to my college classes. I genuinely cared about his well being and wanted him to heal and move on, but I couldn’t take this.

I eventually got the police involved. They went to his dorm room and told him to leave me alone. I filed a personal protection order which prohibited him from coming within 50 feet of me. But none of this worked.

He forced me into my car where he drove seven miles away to where he had parked his car. As he drove, he yelled at me, “Do you feel strong now?

He knew.

During our short time together, I told him how much I identified and held on to the word strength. And now he was using that against me.

Driving to his parents house a few minutes away, he forced me into his room and locked the door. I ran to the opposite corner of the room shuttering away from him. He looked at me and told me to take off my clothes.

I said “NO!” very firmly and he took out a gun. Screaming as loud as I’ve ever screamed, he rushed over and started to strangle me. This is when I thought it was my end. My last thought before the darkness took over was, Please, Jesus.

I didn’t have time for a lengthy prayer just: Please, Jesus.

Miraculously, I came to minutes later, five feet from where I blacked out. My ex-boyfriend’s dad was wrestling him off me. By the total and complete grace of God, his dad was still getting ready for work and heard me scream and sprinted downstairs. He busted through the door and saved me.

In the whirlwind of events, my ex-boyfriend’s dad reluctantly agreed to drive me to the police station. There I was, writing each terrible detail on a yellow-lined piece of paper.

Not even a month after what had happened, I was running alone along Lake Macatawa, looking at its icy waters. A dark thought creeped into my mind: What if you just ran into the lake? He wanted you dead, what’s it worth living?

What’s it worth living?

How about the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) and that God miraculously saved my life from an impossible situation? God gave me a second chance when there shouldn’t have been a chance.

December 5, 2011 could have been the date at the end of my dash. But, by the grace of God, I survived. God has been so real and faithful to me since that terrible day. I think many of us live in clouded realities and we push off the one thing we can’t escape—death—yet it will surely come.

But, God promises eternal life through Jesus Christ, His son, for anyone who believes in Him. Today, God has supernaturally healed those deep wounds and the depressive and anxious thoughts that once plagued me. I have found true peace and hope through the words of the Bible.

When I wrestled with my tragedy, I initially tried to fill my life with things I thought would give me hope and satisfy my heart. I wanted to feel strong again. But nothing satisfied. Maybe a brief moment–the breathlessness of a good run—but it all passed.

Every once in a while I would pick up my bible, but it mostly just went to and from church with me. Then one day, it dawned on me that as a Christian I should know what the bible actually says.

I literally couldn’t get enough. I would read for an hour or two every day. God’s word was alive, speaking and moving in my heart. I began to finally get to know the God that I said I served. I finally understood the truth of His Word.

The truth is that God is all that He says He is. He is faithful. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He can be trusted, even in the midst of trouble.

John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Am I putting my strength in the Word, or in my physical capabilities?

Am I focusing on how Jesus has overcome the world or my circumstances?

In an effort to be my best self, I focused on the word strength, instead of the Word of God — who is Jesus, our ultimate strength.

Being strong in itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good thing! Especially in this season of my life of being a mama, having babies and discipling toddlers —it is not for the weak. Women have incredible strength in all the roles we carry.

But as I found out, finding strength in myself failed me. I had built an altar to “strength”, nailing all the ways I felt strong to its core. Athleticism, independence, moral righteousness, carrying all the grocery bags in one trip… and so forth.

When I finally realized that placing all my strength in my abilities was foolish, and that there was a better way, it was so healing to me. I had tremendous clarity about who I am and who God is.

I now know that placing Jesus as Lord of my life, brings strength and stability no matter what life throws my way. He is our King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and He’s already overcome the world.

Place your strength in Jesus and you won’t be disappointed. No matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, He still saves. In my case, He literally saved my physical life, as well as my spiritual life.

Jesus is my strength.

Meet Katrina Prater!

She’s a lover of Jesus, words, and seeing women living out an abundant life! You can find her lacing up running shoes, chasing after her two littles, or teasing her husband of six years. She is passionate about speaking the truth of God’s Word, and letting God use her story for His glory.

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