A Step at a Time. That's all it takes. Every journey. Each decision. Everything requires a step at a time. Instant life changes are not the miracle. Taking that next step is. Sticking it out, when the evidence is not there. That is the miracle of the every day.
I've learned not to trust easy answers. I've learned to look beyond that pat on the back, or even the encouragement of those who love me. I've learned that the most important action I can take, is reaching out for that next step.
For me, this journey of steps is more than a trip on a treadmill. It encompasses everything in my life: the certainty that when my husband says, "You are beautiful," I can believe that I am. When my daughters tell me that I am the woman they aspire to be, then I can make the decision to see in myself, what they see in me.
Of course, my most important journey is within. I never go alone. I always take God with me. We look into the dark corners of my life, where despair and uncertainty abide, and I let Him shine His light, no matter how many shadows there are. And I believe that when the light of His transforming grace bursts through the gloom, I can be confident that He has taken my faults with Him, never to return.
This is not to say that I don't dirty things up again. I do. I cannot imagine why I let those dark creatures of sin back into my inner self, but I do from time to time. Each time my inner self plunges into despair, I must call my Lord, and I must invite His Holy Spirit back in, to shine His light again.
I believe that is one of the things that God sees in me: that propensity to reach out for Him in the dark...to walk up to Him when I know that I am unworthy...and if necessary, to crawl on my belly, until I can touch the hem of His robe.
So, here I am, after months of a treadmill untouched by my despairing hands and feet. Yesterday, by His grace, I began again. I started out at barely a crawl, just a little over 1 mile an hour, and I stayed there until I was warmed up enough to creep a little faster. This was no power walk, but it was a humble walk, knowing that I could not make it if I hurried. In nearly 40 minutes, and the space of an entire album of praise, I stayed on that treadmill until I was done.
I never did get my target heart-rate up to where it should be; but I finished. And today, perhaps I'll do better, a step at a time. Whether change is in one's character or in one's physical body, nothing is accomplished at once. Everything begins with that first step, and the victory belongs to every step thereafter.
So, go ahead, cut one thing out of your diet and take that step at a time. Praise your children one more time, and then increase a step at a time. Love your spouse, and say so, one more time. A step at a time, with small increases, will give you the confidence to continue. Be stubborn. Keep going, until the end. Perseverance changes behavior, and prayer changes the heart.
God be with you, as I will, in prayer, and with Him, taking a step at a time, until He calls me home.
Saturday, April 05, 2008