Running the Race- A Testimony of Love and Grace

Dedication: To my son Cayden

My name is De’Ana Forbes. I am a student at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, VA. I enrolled at the university in the fall of 2013 after being recruited to run hurdles for the women’s track and field team. The transition from high school to division 1 collegiate athletics was extremely challenging. The act of keeping up with rigorous coursework and the demands of athletics left me almost wanting to quit. But I did not, and before I knew it I was breaking school records in the 60 meter hurdles and claiming conference championship titles in the 100 meter hurdles and 4×100 meter relay with my teammates. I was a leader for my team, perhaps one of the strongest role models and many of the women on the team young and old looked up to me. Then, two weeks before the start of my junior year I found out I was pregnant.

The number one question those around me asked was “so are you going to finish school?” or “so how is that gonna work with school and track”. I thought to myself “hmm I’m not sure why everyone thinks this is impossible for me….but more importantly…my God.” Never once did I think this was a challenge I wasn’t going to be able to complete. So, I went through my entire junior year pregnant, practicing with my team, running, lifting and making the best grades I ever made in school. I can’t say that I embraced my pregnancy, because I didn’t. I was ashamed to post many pictures or talk about my excitement of having a child. I wasn’t married, finish with school nor did I have a job or car. All I knew was that I was going to have this baby during finals week and that I was going to graduate in May 2017-which I did by the grace of God.

May 2017, I got my B.A in History with minors in secondary education and interdisciplinary social sciences. I did not get to physically walk with my classmates because of athletic duties on the day of graduation, but I was still proud of myself for defying every odd against me. Right now, I am in my second year of working on my Masters of Art in Teaching at James Madison University, I work 2 part time jobs, serve as a student coach for the JMU women’s track team and take care of my son as a single mother–an African American mother at that. Even though my son and I experience some financial struggles, I do believe in tithing to my church and making charitable donations, even if it means giving out of my need. To me, it’s more so about the posture of my heart, which I know God sees.

It has been my dream to share my story more in depth and to encourage people of all walks of life to trust that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even when you feel you are surrounded by darkness. We really are capable of doing anything we put our minds to, especially if we keep God first–because we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. I would love to share my story in hopes of encouraging and empowering others to put their hope and trust in the lord during hard times. I really don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for God’s word and his promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

As of today, I feel as though I take one day at a time. Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about the future, where I’m going to move, what school I will get hired at, when will God send me a husband, or even if I’m a good enough mother. A lot of times, I have to remove myself from social media because I find myself comparing myself to others or wondering why I don’t have a husband yet. At one point, I would go to bed crying to God that I’m tired of carrying my son, groceries and my heavy book bag in the house alone everyday–a bit dramatic I know, but that was a real frustration for me. Then I realized, I’ve never been alone….ever. How must have God felt to hear me complain about being alone and lonely? Everyday I have to pause, take deep breaths and know that God hasn’t made any mistakes in my life and that he knows exactly what he’s doing in my life. I often think about his purpose for my life, which is something I am asking him to reveal to me through fasting, prayer and reading his word. I know that I am imperfect, but I am made perfect in his love. God has truly been awesome to me and I am so tired of keeping that to myself. It’s time to let the world know that I have been changed and to let those around me know the real reason I am able to endure such challenging times– the grace of God.

With love,

De’Ana Forbes
JMU M.A.T Student
JMU Women’s Track and Field Student Coach
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, INC.

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