From the moment he learned to crawl, my oldest son was always on the go. It seemed Justin could crawl across the room and down the hall in a matter of seconds. He might pull up on the furniture and walk up and down the length of the couch, but the second something caught his attention, he was down on all fours scooting across the room. His first birthday came and went and he continued to navigate the house on his hands and knees. Another month passed and although he might take a step or two, walking just didn’t seem to get him to his destination fast enough. Justin was almost fifteen months old before he would consistently walk instead of crawl and even then a bobble in his balance and he would go back down to the security of crawling.
Sometimes the security of what we know we have mastered cripples us. When we’re crawling, we may be moving forward and appear to be going somewhere, but our eyes are to the ground and many times we aren’t even looking forward much less upward; we’re simply doing what’s comfortable. Embarrassment and shame can easily turn our eyes downward, and if we’re not careful we quickly go back to the easier gait of crawling.
Last week I had a lunch date with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up and sharing the many trials, blessings, and changes that life had brought to each of us. Her compassion and kindness was a treasured blessing in my life and I still cherish her friendship. Sometime during the meal, our conversation drifted to the past and my new book and the stage of life we were both in years ago when we first met. As we talked, I realized Lisa saw and understood more about me than I even acknowledged myself at the time. Somehow she knew that what I hoped looked like a fairy tale life wasn’t as happily ever after as I pretended.
All the way home and for several days afterward I replayed her words, “You always tried to hide the elephant in the room, but I knew it was there even if we never talked about it.” The more I thought about it the more I found myself crawling back to a place of safety. I avoided writing – which is easy to do and justify in my busy life – and I soon saddled myself with unnecessary burdens and high expectations regarding my house and yard as I unconsciously tried to reestablish the image of my fairy tale life.
But crawling is tiresome. It burns far more energy than walking upright. When I’m crawling I can’t see anything but the ground in front of me. And so, I lift my eyes and slowly stand back up – still teetering but looking outward and upward. Like my son, I am slow to walk and I am still learning how to balance all my embarrassment and shame, all my insecurities, and all my past, present, and future sin on the one who holds my hand and walks beside me. I may not walk perfectly, but when I am walking and my eyes look forward and upward, it is so much easier to see that while my life may not be a perfect fairy tale life it is a grace filled and overflowing life.