I absolutely love going on walks, and at this point in pregnancy (39 weeks) it’s kind of the only exercise my majorly-protruding body can do. Since we moved to this house three years ago, I had to say farewell to my beloved strolls, as the nearest sidewalk is dangerously close to a busy road, and my walking buddies are three little people who are still learning to obey. I hate feeling limited like that. Earlier this week, I drove 20 minutes to my Mom’s house just so I could briskly walk around her subdivision. I loved seeing her, but the inefficiency of driving so I could walk was painful.
Then one evening, we were all playing in the yard and I was pouting about my lack of exercise, so my husband advised me to “walk around the house.” So I did many, many laps around the house. The next morning, with my husband gone and the kids needing supervision, I directed them to play near the (unlit) fire pit in our backyard, and I decided to walk around them. And I did. A lot. (I recorded it on strava and my tiny, tiny route looks hilarious. The kids and even the cat looked at me like I was a crazy person.)
And it felt great.
Why did it take me so long to figure out that I wasn’t helpless in my desires for exercise just because the typical options (gym/workout video/sidewalk) weren’t available to me right now?
It’s because I, like most people, am a glutton for needlessly placing limits on myself.
Feeling trapped is easier than finding solutions.
Just because I haven’t seen it done means I think it can’t be done.
And that’s a sad place to be.
My husband talks a lot about the difference between settlers and pioneers. (He has an crush on the 1800's.) Being a pioneer was terrifying and hard because, well, the trail wasn’t paved yet. There weren’t books available on what to expect. Parents and grandparents, in all their wisdom and value, couldn’t speak into the particular experience of making their homes in the mysterious western frontier. Instead, the pioneers had to be befriend and rely on people who didn't trust them or speak their language. (And, regrettably, our government and many of the pioneers dealt with the native Americans in terrible and inexcusable ways.)
There were so many unknowns, so many obstacles for which the pioneers could not prepare themselves, so much inevitable failure and pain. The settlers who came in after them were valuable to society too—they were society!—but were it not for the curiosity, boldness, and grit of the pioneers, it’s safe to say the East Coast would be a lot more crowded, and some of the planet’s most breathtaking natural wonders (and most useful natural resources) would remain unknown to the rest of the world.
My husband is of the pioneering sort. I remember feeling so limited when we considered his skills and applied for a ton of jobs, but we couldn’t find anything that fit him. However, with God’s gracious leading, he eventually took a big risk and started a business. He went door to door looking for customers. He sought counsel from other pressure washers and business owners, but there were a lot of solutions he had to figure out on his own...and now he’s the guy that other people are going to for advice. He's thriving in this role. Even a couple weeks ago, he showed me a chemical sprayer apparatus and told me that he completely improvised it. This contraption he made—that works brilliantly—is the only one out there...for now. He’s a pioneer.
I don’t know anyone my age with this many kids and I don’t hear any of my friends talking about how they walk in circles in their backyard to get exercise. But that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong, or that everybody else is wrong. Every person on the planet regular encounters issues of varying significance that no one has taught us how to deal with. This is the first time being a human for all of us. The curtain went up, we were pushed onstage, the show has started, and our lives are being lived, whether we've ever felt ready for it or not. We can choose to despair at our cluelessness or lack of ideal environment. Or we can choose to be excited that we've been thrown onto a Conestoga wagon that’s headed west, and we will need to figure out how to do things that we haven’t seen done before.
If you read this and feel inspired to "find your inner strength" and take on a Me Versus The World mentality, that's not what I'm trying to advocate here. I'm not saying all conventional ideas are bad. I'm not saying the world has nothing to show us. Instead, I'm saying that in humility we can look at our situations and think "I can't handle this on my own. I do not yet know how I am equipped to deal with this. But, for my own sake and those who come after me, I will try." We can acknowledge how stupid it is to not seek God for wisdom (given that, well, He knows and controls all things) and we can find the Sacagaweas in our lives who can show us the way.
You don't need to become a conspiracy theorist to question cultural norms on a big or small scale. Whether you're choosing an alternative method of education, inviting homeless people to your wedding, or eating a cupcake more efficiently, you're looking at your current situation and saying "Status quo won't work here. I need to find the better way." Remember, limitations can be the very tools that help us discover and create beauty.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's a new day, and I need to walk some more miles around my fire pit.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today