My husband says I’m like a squirrel. Small, fast-moving, fierce but in a cute way, and exceptionally jittery. I often think of myself as a strong, independent woman, that maybe if I project that image through my words, some of it will transfer to my brain and my heart. But I spend a lot of time acting out of fear, fixated on all of the things that could go wrong.
I went hiking by myself this week. I laced up my sneakers and set out to explore a little of the Knoxville nature scene. I spent much of the incline with my eyes fixed on the ground, darting back and forth, keeping watch for snakes, literally jumping every time I heard a rustle in the brush around me. I thought about how often I move through life this way. So fearful about the danger that could be lurking in each step that I take, petrified that one wrong move will be my downfall, that I miss all of the little things dotting the trail alongside me. What a silly way to approach life. And what a selfish way of thinking, to focus inwardly, as if my life is all about me and my safety- so fearful of the dreams and desires that are in my heart and any risk of failure.
I had a few challenging days at work this week. I was anxious about proving myself capable and constantly worried about what everyone was thinking of me. As I continued climbing, these thoughts swirled in my head, my brain steadily processing the emotions of the week and maybe it was the stillness of the woods or the morning spent alone with my thoughts, but I began to gain a little more clarity.
As my shoulder muscles loosened and I began the descent down the rocky terrain, I stopped only keeping watch for snakes and began hiking with a little more purpose. The path was slippery and my footing much more shaky than on the incline, but I began to gain a little more confidence in each step. I started to notice the gentle breeze rustling the leaves around me and providing a much needed reprieve from the heat. I noticed the little snails, inching along planks of muddy wood and butterflies with bright blue vibrant wings, sailing through the air with confidence and no particular destination in mind, and I was reminded of the lilies. The words of Matthew, echoing in my head, “How much more then will your father care for you?”
My purpose is not wrapped up in myself. I don’t have to be jittery and fearful of each step, because I am strong. Not because I’ve muscled up enough strength on my own, but because He will not let my foot slip.
I think I’m still a squirrel, but hopefully, with each day that passes, I become one that is defined more by her friendliness and hard-working nature and less by her skittishness.
On the pastry side of things this week, I learned a little more about the way things work in a restaurant kitchen. I practiced creating prep lists and managing my time so that everything was ready to go by the time service began. I also learned that mistakes happen in every kitchen and that even professional pastry chefs overfill pie shells or end up with gritty custard. I made flourless chocolate with the most luxurious cake batter, squeezed the juice from approximately 40 limes, and learned how to make sprinkles from scratch (they are easier than I thought!).
“25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
-Matthew 6: 25-34
P.S. When I asked the woman at the trailheads about which path I should take, I told her I was looking for something moderate, maybe just a mile or two to explore. She pointed to the ridge and said Tthis one is challenging, but the views are worth it”. How true is that. Sometimes, I’m so tempted to take the moderate path, the one with challenges and difficulties and outcomes that I think I can control. But the views on the difficult path -they are so worth it.