Walking along a familiar path, mind racing, thoughts churning, I was in a big hurry to go nowhere really fast. I wanted an answer, needed an answer, was praying for an answer. The decision to make a decision loomed over me, hovering, almost suffocating, and no matter which way I turned along this path, the choice followed me, like an everpresent shadow in the waning sunlight. I felt agitated, and definitely restless. I walked ever faster, almost jogging now. The sooner I could get this decision out of the way, the better, right? I needed to be Freed from this constant second guessing, Freed from the sadistic back and forth scenarios that played out in my mind, Freed from all the what-ifs of a potential wrong choice. I just needed to be Freed.
I had set out on this walk to clear my mind, to relax and to focus my thoughts on God. I totally wasn’t doing that. I was still racing against the world, thinking, thinking, thinking, and getting nowhere. Reeling my thoughts in, I slowed my pace. First a little, then a lot. I stopped. I closed my eyes. I stood alone, but not alone, and I prayed for an open heart, open eyes, and open ears. I really wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to feel, see, and hear God in everything that was around me. I wanted to listen with every fiber of my being. To be still, but to know.
Calmer now, I opened my eyes. I was struck by how much the world seemed to come back into focus, or rather how I had been focusing on the wrong things. I could hear a woodpecker thumping away in the distance, feel the cool breeze on my face, and with that came the scent of spring and newly growing things. I could also hear the creek nearby, gurgling softly, beckoning me to come and take a leisurely peek, inviting me to listen to its relaxing melody. Like an old war vet with an amazing story to tell, I could feel the world God created calling out to me to just listen. To be Freed.
Walking the path again, my pace calmer and my stride more relaxed, I came upon a little wooden bridge that veered to the left, and before it a little yellow sign with an arrow also pointing to the left. I smiled and thought wistfully that maybe God was telling me which direction to go.
I walked a little further and soon, I passed a woman, walking in the opposite direction. I could see her approaching from a distance, walking with two border collies flanking each side. She was older than me, by perhaps twenty years, maybe more. Her age was not definitive, because though she had lines, her face was soft, relaxed, uplifted, and youthful in a very wise way. She was fit, and walked as if she floated along the ground, with a spring in her step that told me she wasn’t weighed down by thoughts of any life altering decisions. Her jacket was tied around her waist, though it was a little chilly, she radiated a warmth as she passed me, ever smiling and nodding her beautiful hello. I returned her smile, and kept walking. I briefly admired her, but those thoughts drifted away and I continued my journey. I wanted to walk until I knew what to do, and where God wanted me to go. So walk along I did.
A while later, I glanced at the time on my phone that I carried with me in my back pocket, and was disappointed to realize that I didn’t have much time left for this walk, and that I needed to turn around and head back. I needed to get back to the real world that I had created, full of appointments, and errands and deadlines, all in the name of being busy, staying busy, and fooling myself into feeling somewhat productive, somewhat successful. Looking at my phone, I suddenly wanted to toss it into the woods, to be untied from the world, and untangled. This little piece of technology was a constant tether to the rest of this busy world, and it was part of my problem. I decided as I turned around that maybe I needed to cut some of the wireless strings that were snared throughout my life.
Walking back, less phone time seemed to be a good thought, and maybe a step towards more personal freedom from all the noise in my head, but I still wasn’t any closer to making any decisions. As I neared the bridge, coming from the opposite direction, it now veered to the right and now there was a little yellow sign with an arrow pointing to the right. I smiled now. I was on the same path, but facing in a different direction. Was this the way He wanted me to go?
“Which way?” I whispered out loud. I was in a defining moment, I could sense that, but I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening. My eyes were wide open, and I was looking at everything around me, listening, searching longingly for His answer. I had faith that it would come, I just didn’t know for sure when.
As I rounded a curve in the path, I could hear a lady’s voice. Curt, business like, authoritative. Soon I saw the person who the voice belonged to walking towards me. Another very attractive older woman, dressed from head to toe in business attire. Phone pressed next to her head, it was clear she was having a business conversation, and that she was the boss. Her tone was no nonsense, and as she came closer to me, her eyes looked me up and down assessing me and dismissing me, without ever missing a beat on the phone. Her eyes were powerful, her walk was intent, and her designer coat was wrapped tightly around her. Unlike the other woman, there was a calculated coldness to this lady that seem to come from the inside. She seemed so out of place in this park, and I wondered as her heeled boots clicked on the pavement, why she was even here. Perhaps she was firing somebody, perhaps her coldness, was from years of making tough business like decisions. Maybe they were hard on her. Maybe they stole her warmth, hardened her, toughened her up. Perhaps, like me, she wanted to get away, but she was too far gone. Perhaps…
I nodded, but she didn’t even notice, I suppose I wasn’t important enough to be on her agenda for the day. I kept going, passing her, and was struck by the difference in both of these women. Warm and light. Cold and powerful. Two very beautiful women, completely opposite, who could very well have been cut from the same cloth at one point very long ago. Both women were to be noticed. Both women were to be admired.
I was almost out of the park when it hit me like a ton of bricks, an avalanche of thoughts so heavy but amazing that I almost staggered. I stopped. I was kind of in shock. I turned around and ran back the way I had come, back to the little wooden bridge that had the two signs on opposite ends, both pointing in opposite directions. Opposite choices. Which way? Or to get a little bit more metaphorical with you, which woman? Which path of life did I want to follow? Honestly, I could see myself veering in two different directions at this moment, hovering on the brink of a choice that could define me for the rest of my life.
There really was no wrong way, but there was the right way to me, and since God is my bff, he looks out for me. He spoke to me today, He gave me a vision, He broke it down so simply that not even I, in all my preoccupation could miss. He showed me what I had been struggling with, and he showed me the outcome.
Can you feel my joy, friend? My elation, my happiness, my awe? I am writing this with a soaring heart, because I know a few things. I know God loves me. I know God speaks to me, protects me, guides me.
I saw my future played out in such a way that I have to ask myself if those women were even real. I have to ask myself who I want to be. I know. I want to be Freed.
I saw myself in both of those women. Two different futures, two different lifestyles. I had to ask myself who I wanted to be. The answer was obvious.
I forever want to be the lady with her jacket tied around her waist because she’s so warm inside. The lady with the dogs trotting along beside her. The lady with a smile for a stranger, the soft face, the kind eyes. The one with the face tilted towards the sun, who can take the time to be still, the one who radiates joy to those around her. The lady who didn’t demand power or attention, but the one who sort of gets it anyway because she is so warm. The one people gravitate to, not out of duty or fear, but out of love.
That is my choice. I want to be Freed. Through Jesus, that’s what I am.
Thank you God, for showing me.
Thank you all, for reading.
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Show me your ways, Lord , teach me your paths.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17