Life is a lot like taking a walk. But not just a leisurely stroll. I mean a WALK …up and down hills,…pushing a stroller with two 30 pound toddlers,…carrying a 20 pound 5 month old on your body,…against the wind,…in the wrong shoes! 🙂
God speaks to me through several avenues, the main ones being my children, nature and music. So it makes sense then that when I take walks, outside, with my children, while listening to Christian Pandora, I hear things. God speaks to me, and heaven usually feels a little closer for that 30-45 minutes. Sometimes because it’s very spiritual and amazing, and other times because as I’m pushing the extra 80 pounds of child up these hills I feel like I might die. 🙂 Regardless, I feel connected to Jesus when I am surrounded by my children and His creation on a gorgeous 46 degree day like today. So as I walk, God talks, and I try to listen.
On our walk today I realized that life is so much like these walks. Let me first say, there is a major difference between just taking a walk and taking a walk with 80 extra pounds strapped to you in some form or fashion. (And really it’s probably more like 90 extra pounds because let’s not forget about the extra 10 I have somehow accumulated here lately)! I feel like moms taking their walks with their children get extra warrior points, and our bodies should immediately respond to the fact that we are working much harder than just the average walk taker. But I digress. As we trudged up and down these hills through the neighborhood, it just was such a great microcosmic look at life.
Sometimes, our journey is smooth and the weather is perfect, the kids are happy, the skies are blue, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the wind is at our back, we’re coasting and life is beautiful! Sometimes, the weather may be good, but we’re walking up hill and the wind is in our face…and it’s harder than it looks. Sometimes it looks just as hard as it is because it’s nothing but hills, each one bigger than the last; and we may even have to stop and take breaks in between because the hill and the weight we are carrying is just too much. Sometimes, even when we don’t have to stop for breaks, we are moving much slower than we intended or even feel like we are moving backwards. There are other times where we get to the top of the hill and we can just stop and breathe and enjoy the view. Some moments feel all downhill…it’s easy and weightless. Now, not to be a Debbie downer on the downhill moments, but I’ve noticed that even in the downhill, there’s still some effort required to keep from getting out of control. If I just let go of the stroller when we are going downhill, I don’t think the boys would appreciate it very much. Although downhill is easier than uphill, it still requires effort and restraint to keep from going too fast or losing control.
I also find it interesting that no matter how easy the hill is, if I’m climbing up or down it, whether I’m struggling or walking freely; the boys can’t tell the difference. They just enjoy the ride. And that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. As a parent, it’s not necessarily my job to make life easy for my kids; but it is also not their job to know how hard I’m working. They’re job is to be kids and love life. It’s like a duck. On the surface they look like they’re just floating, free and easy. But under the surface, their little feet are peddling as fast as possible. I think that is a lot like how it is with God too. Although we feel like we are working so hard down here and peddling as fast as we can, I think He wants us to learn how to just float on the water and let Him do most of the peddling. He is always at work on our behalf, doing far more for us than we can ever imagine. For the most part, we are just enjoying the ride. Even on the hard days and through the hard seasons, we may feel the wind blowing against us and we may notice that we’re moving a little slower than we were before, or even that the ride stopped for a minute. We may recognize the upward or downward motion that the ride seems to be going in; but overall, we are still just enjoying the ride. Or at least I think that is how it should be. The times where I can just let go and enjoy the ride rather than trying to help peddle, or get out and push myself, things go much smoother and it’s much more fun for everyone. Now I’m not saying we aren’t suppose to do some work, all I’m saying is I think we give ourselves more responsibility for the ride than we deserve. Again, I digress.
(This was from a walk a few months ago, fyi.)
The point is, as we walk through life, we can’t control the conditions and the hills. We are just called to walk them. Not alone, but with the One who created them. There have been seasons of my life, like the one I’m in now, where sometimes the hill just appears to be too big to climb. I feel every ounce of the extra 80-90 pounds I’m carrying, every step feels difficult, I’m moving slow…or even having to stop to breathe on the way up…and sometimes I want to give up completely. I may struggle, it may not look pretty, and the biggest bummer of all, in order to see any benefit in my body from the workout, I have to do the walk more than once! But I’m still walking! Even in the midst of a hard hill, there is so much beauty. The sky is crystal clear, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the wind is at my back (at least half the time), the music is playing and the kids are happy. Continuing to step while focusing on those things gets me up the hill easier and before I know it, I’m standing at the top, breathing in God’s grace and soaking in His beauty. It’s a wonderful thing!
One last metaphorical nugget I got from the walk today is that in order to be the most successful in your walk, it helps to wear the right shoes. In case you’re wondering, Crocs are not the best choice for a long hilly walk. As stylish and comfortable as they are :), I think tennis shoes would have been a better choice. BUT, it gave me more life insight so they served a purpose. Along the way in life, aside from the big hills, the wind working against us, and the extra weight we have to carry and push; there are also small things along the path that like to trip us up. For example, rocks in your shoes. Now for me, I could have avoided many of the rocks that kept jumping in my shoes and annoying my walk had I worn the correct shoes. This is a lesson in preparedness…(and also shoe shopping!) 🙂 But, there are times that no matter what kind of shoes you’re wearing, rocks may get in there, or you may trip on a rock that you didn’t see because you were looking up enjoying the view. That’s ok. It’s all part of the journey. The rocks in your crocs, the poor planning, the being puked on twice and having nothing to wipe it off with, the extra wind, the extra hills, the up and the down, the beauty and the ugly. You’ve got to embrace all of it and just enjoy the fact that at least you’re walking! Even if you don’t have on the right shoes! The good news is, God gives us the tools and the things we need in order to be prepared for the journey laid out ahead of us. But in order to be successful, or at least as successful as possible, we have to show up and we have to pay attention. And we have to keep walking, every single day! Just don’t forget to enjoy the view along the way, thank the one who created it and walks it with you, and appreciate the hills because they all serve a purpose in the overall journey.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” Psalms 119:133
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1