On many mornings I’ve started waking up earlier and driving across town to walk in a great park our town has graciously provided. My mornings started out as a way to get healthier following a class my husband and I took together at our local YMCA. In this class I realized I truly wasn’t as “healthy” as I had convinced myself of. I believe the term they used was “skinny fat”. What! Talking about getting bowled over! However, if you know me, you also know I live by the old adage “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. Call it stubborn or call it pride but this “skinny fat” thing wasn’t going to describe me for long! So off to the walking paths and weight room I go!
I’ve been walking for awhile but the last 2 of 3 walk days were different. The end of last week I got news that I perceived as a light bulb moment. Something that has been a longtime fear appeared to be materializing into reality. Unfortunately, it is causing a deep hardening of my heart. Another blow to an already tough situation had me flat on my face before the Lord. The sudden realization of its implications caused a rolling thunderstorm of doubt, insecurities, and loss. The light bulb moment began taking its toll but as hard as it was in the moment, the Lord knew this point was actually the beginning of my looking back up to Him.
When my eyes opened on that particular morning three days ago, my first thought had been, “I need to go walk. I need to walk hard, fast and far! I need some serotonin flowing and I don’t need to stop until my mind is numbed to my thoughts!” Ever been there?
So there I went… one mile… two miles… three miles… then at the four mile mark I felt a strong pull to just stop and sit on the soccer bleachers to rest. I am not a spring chicken any more ya know!
The awesome thing is what I thought was going to be physical rest was actually a God orchestrated rest for my soul. Be still and know that I am God. The walk full of anxiety and worry and struggle became a quiet time filled with honest exchange of feelings. It became a time of my Heavenly Father holding my every tear. He understood. I felt His presence along with His strength. I felt my soul renew and the struggle begin to leave my body. He took some weight out of the bag I had been emotionally carrying and the relief felt good.
The sad thing was that two days later I allowed Satan to put that weight back in my baggage. I let my eyes drop off him once again and slowly drift toward my insecurities. So I am back on the track again. Yep, that fast, hard, long exercise moved back on the agenda and it may from time to time often pop its head up.
As I now am again walking, I remember a quote from something I read just last night. The reading was something a good friend and I vowed to read together this week. We did this once before and it was such a blessing we decided to do it again. The book, The Shack, is about handing over our burdens and the difficult journey to expect in doing so. Good Christian friends like mine can help hold us accountable when we start to slip back down the slope of insecurities. It's a great partnership to consider.
The quote in this fictional story that has helped me more than once turn things around is “When things are difficult, each time we choose to love, or make a decision based on God’s will not ours, or pray or speak truth, etc., we put another building block in the bridge of healing that will eventually allow us to walk across to the other side – the side of complete peace and joy in the situation”.
After I was reminded of that quote, something about my walk on the all too familiar paths of Patriot Park changed. The familiar steps took on new meaning. The landscape was speaking truth to me, the songs coming through my earbuds spoke more clearly. I began to sense Jesus walking beside me clearly raising my awareness to that. Then the song “Jesus Calling” by 33 Miles came on and the lines “How you see your circumstance is all about a choice …. Do you hear that still small voice saying, it’s okay, you’re not alone, you may be scared to death but I won’t let you go. You may think the sky above is falling, but can you hear Jesus calling? Cause the darker the night, the brighter he can shine…”
Those words spoke so loudly to me. The book quote, the words in the song… they were deafening. As I was about on emotional overload, I rounded a corner on the path I was on and saw this sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.
I felt I was being asked to make a decision... was I going to allow Satan to fill me with worry and insecurities or was I going to let Jesus guide my steps to the right path for me in this situation? Easiest thing... wallow in my hurt and feel sorry for myself. More difficult path... opened up in what I saw around the next corner in my walk...
My Heavenly Father truly has to get concrete and literal with me in order to get his point across so please bear with me.
There it was... the bridge illustration William Young used for his character in the book when God told him, "one building block in the bridge at a time". How about that timing! I had walked this path a hundred times and never thought anything about that old metal bridge except that I'm glad it gets me back to the shady side of the pathway! This time though it reiterated about the way to get to where I wanted to be... one intentional choice at a time.
I suspect I may allow a block to fall back into that water every so often when I'm trying to rebuild my bridge. I may even take back one or two of those blocks at some time along the way. However, if I don't start at some point moving forward, I will be assured to never reach the other side, the place where I desire to be.
God truly never designed or intended our bodies to carry all the worry and heavy loads that result from our human shortcomings. That's why our bodies and our emotions wear down so frequently.
So my journey begins here today. I'm unloading my first block and I'm beginning the foundation for my bridge. There may be points in the construction of my bridge in which I feel I can't rivet even one more piece of metal by myself. I may begin to feel the steel is too thin and heavily dependent on another person's desires or reactions. It's then that I will have to remind myself not to worry about or dwell on the actions of others. I'll have to ask my friend to hold me accountable at that point and encourage me to keep connecting each of my pieces on the bridge. At the same time, I will need her encouragement to continue taking the blocks out of my baggage one by one as I rely on my Father's strength. The path he will lead me on will ALWAYS be the right one and the only one for my soul to rest on.
Always walking the road with you,
Greg and I have been blessed with the most precious little granddaughter. She is developing quite the personality and has her own ideas about almost everything. She is involved so deeply in play most of the time that its impossible to get her to notice who is in the room. She lines up her babies and let me see...there's Allison, Minnie Mouse and, oh yes, we can't forget Bar-B-Q (I think I used to call a similar doll Barbie). Our little Harper is funny and her own unique little person but she is and will always be pure joy in our hearts.
As I remember times gone by with her I smile, yet, I can get deeply melancholy too. You see, my son and his family live in Colorado and we seldom get to see them in the flesh. I do thank God for our once a week Facetime dates though! Memories and the Iphone screen will just have to sustain us for now. I'm sure many of you grandparents can relate to that situation... not ideal but reality none the less.
As I quietly reminisce about staying with her while they were still in Charleston, I realized that as cute as she was there was still a strong-willed little person behind that precious face. I remember changing a diaper through the twists and contortions that a nearly one year old could make proved to be quite a feat. She would want the toy she saw in the distance, then she would want the photos that were above her on the wall, then she would just get exacerbated and want me to be finished!
Truth be told, I wanted to be finished too. I never liked to see her unhappy and she would get that way fast! If she could have only realized that being still meant we would have been done in a flash. All of this thrashing about only prolonged the inevitable! We were going to change that stinky diaper one way or another. After all what’s the alternative? Well, she could stay in the mess, get diaper rash, have mom and dad question my adeptness at taking care of their precious baby girl. (Not a chance that I would let that happen! I wanted to continue babysitting!) So with a forearm against her chest, a leg braced against the furniture, and my tongue hanging out I remembered we would finally close the last tab on the Pamper. (Well, maybe I exaggerated a little but you get the picture.)
Do you think God ever feels that way about us? Does He ever look down on us from that place of authority and love and say “Girl, what are you doing! You are looking at the short term uncomfortable situation and resisting at every turn. Don’t you realize I know the plan? Don’t you realize if you don’t go through this inconvenient and difficult time now you won’t see the joy I have for you later? Trust me, I know best for you in this moment. I’m only allowing it because I know the end result. I’m allowing it because I love you. Yes, that’s right. The loan falling through for that new car is to teach you contentment doesn’t come through ‘stuff’. Trouble in your marriage is because I want you to pull close to me in your pain. The cancer diagnosis, although I did not bring it to you will teach you compassion and wisdom for others in similar situations as yours. The wayward teenager can show no matter how perfectly you think YOU parent them, outside forces are still at work in the world. Yet nothing happens without my full knowledge of it. I knew all of this would happen. I even knew you would fight against me as I tried to guide you through it with the best of parental intentions. I knew you wouldn’t understand right away but I took that chance. I took the chance that you might turn away from me. I took the chance you would say you didn’t love me anymore. I took the chance because as much as that would hurt me, seeing you miss out on the molding and pruning and growth would hurt me more. I’ll wait until you stop thrashing. I’ll wait so I can pick up the broken pieces and put you back together stronger in ME than you have ever been. I’ll just wait….”
I hate to admit that frequently when I am in the middle of struggles and hurts, I’m like little Harper just tensing my neck and thrashing about trying to get out of the situation all by myself. I become like a viper ready to attack. That's an ugly picture but it's true. It’s hard to see that through the anger, hurt, and pain that my Father stands close by patiently waiting for me to relax my muscles and give up the fight. But goodness, if I could see that sooner I would sure sail around some heartache instead of right through the middle! That’s not what He wants though. He wants growth from us. He wants growth toward trusting a Father who would never let us fall without being there to hold us and guide us when we finally looked up… when we realized the last diaper tab has been fastened and the difficulty was over. He wants us to realize that we have traveled through the hard stuff and am better for having faced it hand-in-hand with our Father.
Traveling the road with you,
Mom 2 Mom
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