A few months ago the school district I work for offered an opportunity to all employees to take up a walking challenge as part of an annual health and fitness campaign. The idea is simple, really – just walk a minimum of 7000 steps a day, then every week, report your total steps. Easy, right? Noooo problem-o! (Let me just mention here that I work at a desk….and had never actually counted my “total daily steps” before…..) But ignorance notwithstanding, I signed up for the challenge, dusted off my trusty Fitbit and waited to begin.
Day 1: Up at my usual 5:00 am to shower, dress, eat breakfast, water patio plants, pack lunch and jump in the car to head to work. It all felt like a lot of steps….in fact when I got to work and settled at my desk I snuck a peak at the Fitbit, pretty sure I had cranked out at least 2000 or so, and was startled to see I had picked up a whopping….. 443 steps so far. After a quick test of the Fitbit’s accuracy, (yes….it was working just fine) I got my first glimpse of what 7000 might look like in a day. By lunch I’d walked around 1700, which was a true reality check….this was going to take a little more planning and a whole lot more effort than I’d bargained on! I came home that afternoon with more than half my steps remaining and enlisted my husband to take a walk with me, already wondering how I was going to make it the two months that the challenge required. But, though I may be a bit more sedentary than I’d imagined, I’m also a bit competitive, and I wasn’t about to quit!
I started walking during my lunch hour, just to get some pesky steps off my to-do list, and then making up the rest every evening after dinner. I somehow managed to make the 7000 steps a day (just barely!) and proudly entered my first entry in the Walking Challenge log. One week down, eight to go – OK, harder than I thought, but I’d just have to power through, then think again before signing up for any more “challenges!”
So…..a funny thing happened on the way to 7000 steps a day. Quite unexpectedly, it became less and less about walking and more and more about…..healing. See, there’s not really much to DO while you’re walking….well, except the walking part, but I guess I mean there’s not much ELSE to do while walking, but walk. So to beat the boredom, I began arming myself with headphones and Pandora stations on my phone to let music help me pass the time. And I found myself flipping through lots of other music I loved to over and over again land on music that spoke to my heart; more specifically, songs of worship. I filled my ears, head and heart with sounds from artists such as Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Passion, Gateway Worship, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe…..and somewhere around week three I actually started looking forward to walking. (If you know me, stop laughing…..people change!)
It’s been a rough few years. This past year, in particular there have been times I honestly didn’t know if I could make it another day – my heart has been smashed into such tiny pieces, it’s seemed impossible to hope for any part of it to be gathered up and mended together again. But there are many steps throughout the grieving process, and also, I’m finding….many steps to healing. And lately a large part of healing has been quite unexpectedly found in the form of 7000 steps a day. I’ve spent literally hours alone with my thoughts, but most importantly, in prayer – with God. I’ve had a lot to say to Him, many things I’ve been afraid to say. After all…..He’s God….and I haven’t been too happy with how my life has played out lately. But do you know what my walks have shown me? He can take it. And not only can take it, but He longs for me to give it to Him. All of it. The questions, the pain, the disappointment, the despair, the grief, the anger, the desperate longing for things to be different…..all the broken pieces.
I share these words, not just to record this period in our lives, but to hopefully remind those who may be reading whose hearts are also broken that they aren’t alone. God is near to the broken hearted, and He knows we don’t – we can’t always understand why pain comes our way, especially when we love Him so. But please take heart, and whatever you do….don’t give up! Weeping may consume these nights….but joy comes in the morning. I know it’s dark….but morning will come, and I want to be there to see that sunrise!
I only have a couple of weeks left of the walking challenge, but I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon. Healing truly is beginning to take place in my broken heart, and God and I have much more to talk about. So, I’ll pack up my headphones, listen to worship music that leads me into the very presence of the One who loves me most, cry and pray and pursue healing…..7000 steps at a time.
Carried by Love,
“Anchor” By Hillsong United
As an anchor for my soul
Through every storm
I will hold to YouWith endless love
All my fear is swept away
I will trust in YouThere is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave everything to save the world You love
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand
You who was and is to come
Your promise sure
You will not let go
Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You
Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You