I don’t really remember why I was so anxious that day. I’m wired on “full throttle anxiety” some days and it doesn’t always make sense. This day was one of those days. Anxiety had gripped and I felt like my insides were coming all undone and oozing right out of my skin ! I couldn’t fix it or control it — whatever “it” was that was turning my insides out.
There was a whisper …”take a walk”.
Walking has always been a great way for me to untangle some of the messes on the inside … sort it all out …tape up those frayed wires and lay them straight for a little bit longer. It’s a great time to just talk it all out with Jesus while I walk in forward motion — symbolic of my need to push through and keep walking forward.
I took a walk !
I had barely gotten out of my driveway and down my winding street in rural New England when I saw an older lady at the end of the intersecting street. She was dressed in crisp cotton apron-like clothing with a bandanna holding her gray hair in place — keeping her head warm, as well. I had never seen her before but I almost imagined she had just prepared an amazing Italian meal, complete with warm, homemade bread and delicious pasta but had somehow lost her way after the meal was over. She seemed a bit nervous and I thought maybe I had scared her. Going over to her, I introduced myself and made small talk — trying to ease her fears.
While in conversation, I learned that she was visiting her son and he had told her not to walk past the street he lived on. The intersecting street –my street — was busier and his concern for her safety prompted him to issue the “no-walking-past-this-point” warning.
I assured her “my” street was plenty safe but I’d be happy to walk with her … on her turf …her street . Eliminating fear of the unknown, we could continue talking and walking. In all honesty, I was drawn to her company and my “helping to ease her fear” was cover for …”I could use some company as well!”
Somehow the conversation turned to mothering and she looked at me with such knowing eyes and said, “I know you’re a good mother.” My response …”Well … I worry a lot, though !” (This was obviously on my mind and the reason for my walk in the first place !) To which her reply was something like – “We’re mothers ! It’s what we do !”
We kept on walking …up a very steep hill …the kind of hill that you can’t walk and still talk as you make the climb. I told her that I had affectionately named this hill, “Butt Hill”, because it was so hard to climb and very hard on the ole’ body. She encouraged me to just go at her pace — to which she explained went something like this: take a few steps forward and stop every now and then to rest. She promised me if I went at her pace, I’d make it just fine — just a little slower !
We continued to walk and talk about our children and mothering — losses and loves …life — when all of a sudden she stopped dead in her tracks, turned to look at me with the eyes that seemed to be those of God, Himself, and said …“Turn around! Look how far you’ve come !!!”
With that, I did turn around and , to my sheer amazement, we were almost to the top of the hill ! and, even more significantly, I had been talking the entire way up !!! Who knew this was even possible!!
The Holy Spirit spoke into the scene and I knew He had scheduled this walk just for me , it seemed ! He was making a “way out” for me in the middle of all my anxiety. He was giving me peace and truth as I walked with Him — and this stranger was His voice today. This was His personal encouragement to me not to be discouraged by my lapse and the battle, yet again, with anxious thoughts.
He was reminding me that no matter how far I feel I have to go on this road to peace-replacing-anxiety, I’ve come a long way …much further than I even realized. My thoughts were telling me that for sure, I had gone completely back to the starting line because as soon as a life-situation-gunshot went off, there I was fumbling to get off my starting block ! My Father was begging to differ !
I was so moved by this whole scene unfolding that I thought , perhaps, I had been walking and talking with an angel, sent directly from God ! I never actually saw this woman again — but she left a deep impression that I will never forget .
You may be struggling with that same old struggle and you think you’re never going to “get it right” ! You may think that somehow you just keep waking up like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” … re-living the same thing over and over again. To you I say …“Turn around !!! Look how far you’ve come.” Look back and see places where God has given you grace in time of need and allowed you to walk through a journey you never thought you’d make it through. You may already be on the other side of the battle– you just haven’t turned around to see how far you’ve come yet !
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Consider times you’ve felt anxiety grip but God gave you strength in the moment to transfer that anxious thought to one of hope and trust. Think about times you wanted to go back into that pit of depression but God made a way out and brought a friend to walk you back to the light.
The fact that you’re still breathing is proof that you’ve moved forward. You’ve already made it through “something” to get to where you are right now.
Those “set-backs” along the way don’t always mean you’re not moving forward. It may be a rest stop so you can keep going for the long haul. You may think you’re in the break-down lane when, in reality, you may be re-fueling !
Take heart ! Turn around …
Look how far you’ve come ! Throw your hands up in the air …and keep walking !