Friday, April 16, 2010

Holding hands

My heart stopped the other day. I went internally awash with the "fight or flight" hormones because I met the reality of my child getting hit by a car. I want to say every parent probably experiences this at some point, but that makes it no less jarring.

Let me set the stage. I have just pulled up to my parents' house, which is on an uphill slope. And as in all neighborhoods, everyone knows that cars drive way too fast down their street. Add this to the thing I love and hate - they live directly across the street from the neighborhood park. As expected, my son gets out on the sidewalk side of the car and runs into the house while I finish a conversation with my husband on my phone. I am still sitting in the car. About one minute later, I watch through my windshield a silent version of this scene that seems to go in slow motion: my full-of-energy little guy runs full throttle out of the house, down the short driveway and right into the street blazing a path to the park, giving zero heed to the fact that he is even entering a street. As fast as I can, I am scrambling to open my car door and stop him, narrating frantic bits to my husband, but it is way too late. Had there been a car coming, I couldn't have reacted in time to protect him. But there wasn't. No car anywhere in sight. Oh God. Thank you.

My son knows better than this. He knows the "stop at the curb and look both ways" routine. We've done it literally hundreds of times. Part of my slow-motion paralysis was out of shock that he was actually running into a street in the first place. I always expect running and craziness from him, but I didn't see the street part coming. He got way ahead of himself, letting his desire to go to the park override all his knowledge. Most importantly, he forgot the rule to always always always hold hands.

Tonight I was thinking about how hard it is for me to walk with God - I mean, right with Him - not getting ahead of myself, or not lingering back. It is so hard. One of my biggest challenges right now. And I was reminded of this incident with my son this past week. I want so badly to get to certain places in my future. I imagine them, feel them, fixate on them. And they are great places, such as a more secure financial spot and a closer, richer marriage. I can see these places are often just across the street, a very short distance away. So I run ahead, giving no heed to God's cadence. Sometimes it's just my thoughts that get carried away, and sometimes I actually start trying to take "progress" into my own hands. I can so easily let go of God's hand and enter into dangerous territory.

The opposite also happens. Have you ever had a bad day that just empties you for several more? Painful days follow us for a lot longer. When one of these days hits me, I tend to linger back, confused and injured. It's not that God wants to rush me out of a hard time, but I know He does want to heal me and help me walk forward with Him. He offers a hand to hold, and to hold me up, when I can't walk on my own.

My prayer tonight was for God to give me the discipline and courage to walk with Him at His pace. I know what it's like to hold His hand, and it is a wonder why I don't every single day. Holding onto God leaves no room for anxiety. None. Fear cannot accompany you. Peace, joy, love, security...all the things I need and want are there for me, filling me up. And yet like a child, I often let go and run ahead. (Wait, I've had that kid, and that kid is exhausting! Sorry, Lord.) Some days I even get hit. Self-doubt, fear, insecurity and vulnerability run me down without stopping. In those times, my Father runs to me in the street, picks me up, holds my face in His hands and says with love, "Precious daughter, hold my hand."

My favorite verse in the Bible is Micah 6:8 because it boils down what God requires of me. When I need simplification and the bottom line of my "job" as a Christ-follower, this is where I turn:

O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

It's good to memorize this verse, having it ready to tell to yourself when you start to walk (or run) at your own pace. It's the "stop and look both ways" rule you only learn by practice. When I get ahead of myself, the Holy Spirit reminds me to stop, be humble, and walk with Him. Not running ahead, not trailing behind. And always always always holding hands.

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