There is something special about walking on the beach. I absolutely love it. It’s the sun and the sound of the waves. It’s seeing surfers and kite surfers, swimmers and coal ships. It’s feeling of delightful little waves chasing my ankles. It’s the view ahead and the sound of fun. It’s a special gift from heaven.
When I do get to walk my favourite beach I can walk a few kilometres without noticing the distance or time, especially when the sun and breeze are working together to create the perfect temperature, when the sand is flat and the water cool, and when the wind is blowing with me. Ahhh… bliss.
The walk out is often a fun adventure but the walk back to home… not so much. If the wind is blowing in my face, the sand is soft enough to make steps tricky, the tidies coming in just to splash water to saturate my shorts to discomfort, and I’m starting to get too hot or too cold or a bit tired… It can be a tough challenge to conquer instead of a pleasant wander.
The only way home, the only way, is the long walk back. Taking one step, and another step, and another step, and a few thousand more steps, until I’m back on concrete and almost home.
Life is often like a walk on the beach. The journey out or down is new and exciting, so much to see and feel, time and distance slip by unnoticed. Then something changes and discomfort calls home time. We stop, look back, see how far we have to go to return home and… and it’s overwhelming, daunting, impossible. But the only way home, back to normal, is to take one step and another step, and another step.
In life the walking away from home can be in relationship with family, friends or God. It can be the distance that suddenly appears in marriage or joy in your job or life path. Or it can be in health. Abruptly life changes and discomfort calls home time. And we are left with no choice but to turn and start the long walk home.
I have just completed the long walk home to normal.
2013 was a year where the sand was burning under my feet, the wind was blowing cutting sand in my face, the waves swarmed and dunked me over and over and over and the sand kept disappearing under my feet. Oh, and just for kicks, it was raining on the beach so I was drenched from head to toe.
I walked long and hard and got kilometres and kilometres away from home. It wasn’t intentional or by design. It was just life and all of a sudden that one last thing happened… and discomfort called home time. My body crashed. I literally could not move. Life won and I was out of the game.
I HAD to stop, rest and then start the long road home. For the first 15 months of recovery, one element in life particularly, was like relentless waves that kept knocking me down and dragging me under just when I was starting to crawl again towards home. It was a very horrible, terrible, rainy, stormy day at the beach for me.
My favourite song during those days, that I played at least a thousand times, was Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Take Another Step”. Each day I was doing my best to take just one more step towards home. Some days it felt more like a cha cha, one step forward, two steps back. I got all the help and prayer I could find and had wonderful support from my family, remaining friends and church. But it was still a long walk back to home to normal. It was a struggle. It was immensely difficult but I did it. One step, one breath, one day at a time.
Then suddenly, one day last October, I realised I had made it back home to normal. Life started to flow with me again, the sun was shining, the breeze was light and cool and the sand beneath my feet just right. No, life wasn’t perfect. But it was better, significantly better. Now I could dance and sing and enjoy again. Finally.
I know that I will have other squally, horrible days on the beach of life. I will have other long hard walks home but hopefully not that terrible.
This I have learnt so much more in my walk:
“But He [Jesus Christ] knows the way I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
I feel I have passed the test and have come forth as gold. God glorifying gold.
So that’s where I have been the last three years. I’ve been on the long walk back home to normal. Now I hope my angle has some new depth and inspiration for my readers and that God will be much glorified as my story unfolds further in the days ahead.
If you are on the walk home, or you are at the discomfort or need to turn and start walking stage, let me encourage you. It can be done. We can all find home again. Normal may not look the same, in fact it can be a much better normal, but you can find it. Just take one step, one breath at a time and get all the help you need. It’s out there, just reach out.
Take one step, and another step, and another step, trust God and take another step.