Wednesday, September 21, 2011

life analogies on a long walk home.

i looked down the road.

the long way or the short way home?

those heat waves that you can see in the air when you look down in the distance were there, and i was already sweating.  over 100 degrees can do that to you in three seconds flat.

i sighed.  checked the baby in the sling, checked the toddler in the stroller.  gave her snacks and water. cursed under my breath for about the twenty thousandth time about our broken treadmill, then firmly clamped my jaw and started down the long way.

i can always just cross the street over when i see our road coming up if i'm too tired/hot/tiredofbeinghot. 

then followed immediately with a  no!  i'm not giving myself permission to take the easy way out!  i can do this!

determined to finish, i tried discussing things with leah.  the birds flying overhead.  {were those vultures i detected?  waiting to pick up pieces of me after i turned into a puddle of sweat on the sidewalk?}  a truck that zoomed! by us.  after minutes though, we both became too hot to speak, and simultaneously grew quiet. 

trying to distract myself from thinking about the distance i still had to go as the sun beat down on me, i preoccupied my mind with analogies.  i do that a lot.

i have found that in life, there is the shortcut and there is the long way.

i wondered why i chose this long way home, why i wanted to make things harder than i needed to.  i've done that before, many times.  like i have something to prove to my self, that i have perseverance and character.  that i can push and sweat and put one foot in front of the other and keep going when i could have just easily crossed the road and gone home. 

why does it have to be so hard?  i remember caleb asking me just a few days ago, while he cried and wanted answers.

because God knows what we're capable of, i said.  and had to explain to him what i meant.

sometimes we're put us on this long road whether we want to be there or not.  life is hard enough as it is, on its own.  our hearts have enough to handle just by what is given to it.  there is loss and sadness and pain that comes in waves without our choosing.  we are pushed out of our comfort to feel un-comfortable. the defining moments where we are stretching and growing and learning and becoming.

but sometimes we add more to our already grieving plates, picking up anger and resentment, fear and bitterness or self-deprecation or jealousy.  we take the long way by choice, and sweat and struggle to breathe as the blazing sun hovers over our every step and we wonder how we got there in the first place.  and why we were crazy enough to choose it.

not only had i picked the long way home on our walk, but it was also the side of the road that didn't have any shade provided by trees.  i squinted my eyes, looking across to the other side.  of course it was full of shadows and shade that would have provided some sort of relief.  i checked on the baby, making sure that she was completely covered from the sun's rays while still being able to breathe.  my lower back was aching, my legs were starting to feel like jelly. 

pep talk time.

left foot, right foot, left foot, look ahead! look how far you've already gone!

i'm hard on myself, i know i am.  i set the bar of expectations high, much higher than i do for others in my life.  i'm getting less hard on myself, but still.  i have a ways to go.  but in the past, instead of taking it with the intent to build character, sometimes i chose the hard road because i felt that it's what i deserved.  it was a form of self-torture at times.  that is the unhealthiness i am walking away from.

my water bottle was empty and my mouth was dry.  i was finally getting to our street, and my mind drifted to the thought of the cool air of my home and the shower that was waiting for me.  i picked up my pace, knowing i had almost made it.

i'm much happier now, much more at peace with who i am and the path i am on.  i don't know if that's what happens in your 30's, but if it is then i have kissed my 20's good-bye without even a glance back in its direction.  

i also feel like i can now sense when others are in this same place in life, past the shallowness of looks and focusing instead on what is underneath the skin.  these are who i search for, to be my friends.  to let into my inner circle.  those who have been through hard things, have felt the sun beating down on them and have let the heat of their trials melt them and mold them but have not let it defeat them.  letting go and surrendering, but not giving up.  they own their mistakes, their hardships, their battles.  and are courageous enough to face them, even when they are afraid.  and as strange as it sounds, i feel that as much as i am searching for them, they are also searching for me

leah is now singing a song in the stroller.  i smile at the sound of her sweet little voice, with her pink sunglasses on, kicking her legs up and down, up and down.  dancing her stuffed hippo as she sings.

"YOOK MAMA, YOOK!  IT'S OUR HOUSE!"  she yells, and sometimes she still says her "L"'s with the "Y" sound.

"it is our house, leah!  it's so good to be home!"  

the blast of the air conditioner immediately cools my skin.  i unwrap the baby, lay her on the bed.  lift leah out of the stroller.  

turn on the shower, step into it and feel relief.

the long walk home is over.

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