Friday, August 31, 2007

Everyone's Walk is Valid

On a recent summer morning while enjoying a long walk at a local park, I was impressed with the truth that everyone’s walk is valid, and that includes mine.

There are the slow movers, just enjoying a stroll. Older couples walking hand in hand display the tender affection years of togetherness affords. Young couples bounce along, pushing a stroller – beaming, hopefully taking some time to reconnect with each other. Some are the athletic type, equipped with heart monitor and high-fashion exercise wear; others look like they really need the exercise, painful as it is. People with their dogs stop to chat with other dog owners. Some dog owners simply talk to their dogs! Some make eye contact and smile; others look preoccupied, focused. Some run in teams, some in pairs, some alone. Some do short laps around the lake, others do the three mile stretch the length of the park. Some are back in their car, headed for home after just twenty or thirty minutes. Others spend over an hour here. Some walk the same direction as me and we pass each other at intermittent intervals. Others are headed in the opposite direction. But everyone’s walk is valid.

I used to be of the mindset that only those people who looked like me, believed like me, loved like me and thought like me were valid. Not only did they need to be Christian, they needed to be my kind of Christian (and I was happy to provide a checklist if need be). Everyone else was just a sinner headed for hell. Sorry to be so blunt but honestly, that was my view. I didn’t really see anyone else. I didn’t see poor. I didn’t see lonely. I didn’t see wise or humble or loving. I could neither learn from others nor love others unless they were exactly like me. I’ve come to realize what distorted thinking filled my mind.

As I began to embrace this reality, a reassuring peace overwhelmed my soul, as I realized my own walk is valid as well. I'm generally quiet and a bit introverted. I prefer walking and talking with a friend to noisy social gatherings. I like to be alone on my days off. I'd rather write than shop. Would rather read than eat. I like to question things. Yes, I need to pick up the pace in some areas. I need to reach out to others more. I need to be more disciplined in certain areas. But who I am is who I am. Not by any means a novel concept but one I need to come to grips with from time to time. It's my walk, the one God ordained for me, and I'm sticking to it.

What does your walk look like? Are you walking your own God-ordained walk, or feeling like your walk should look like someone else's?