Today is October the 8th, it’s 6:20 on a Monday night. I feel the need to make note of the time because this is a first for me. I am writing this as I sit in the café at Barnes and Nobles a stack of books to my right, a latte to my left and a clean slate staring back at me willing me to let the floodgates of my heart open. This is something I have always dreamt of doing. Yes, you read that right. I obviously have big dreams – dreams that consist of me sitting in a café drinking coffee while I rapidly type words. When I was younger I daydreamed on the regular, and one of those reoccurring daydreams was of me in a coffee shop, writing. Maybe that’s why I feel such a connection to coffee shops; why I am literally drawn to them, why I find myself invigorated with passion (and most likely caffeine) when the smooth rich scent of roasted beans pierces through the foggy veil of my daily routine. Until I sat here tonight I never understood my affection for such a commonplace establishment – it’s not about the coffee, though I have had some really wonderful lattes over the years, it’s simply because I am reminded of the girl who had a dream, a dream to write.
So here I sit, in a room full of people who share the same fondness for coffee and books. There’s a table in front of me I’ve watched as four elderly ladies made their way gingerly to the table, it appears they are part of a book club. The longer I observe them the more my heart swells. I see myself among them. I glanced up for a moment and caught the eye of one of them so I gave her my warmest smile in hopes that the wrinkles surrounding my eyes would convey what I wanted to say; “dear sweet lady, do not hush your giggles on my account; I am actually writing you into my story, so please continue with your contagious laughter.” I can’t help but wonder as I listen to their banter – that has gone way off the topic of the book – when they looked out the car window as a child where did their thoughts go? Did those dreams come true? Did life get in the way of all they’d hoped to accomplish?
Earlier today I was at the gym walking – I would love to lie and say I was running – but I will be fully transparent, I had zero desire to go to the gym today but somehow my car ended up in the parking lot so I drug my rear-end inside and mustered up enough motivation to walk at a brisk pace while browsing my phone with the attention span of a three year old. Not too long into my walk a beautiful girl in her early 20’s got on the treadmill, pressed the speed dial a couple notches then started walking, very slowly. It only took her one step for me to notice that she had a very prominent limp. Her left leg awkwardly took each step as her right leg took the brunt of her weight. It looked uncomfortable and painful and by her third step my empathetic button switched to on and my heart started to ache for her. I wanted to cheer her on, reach over and give her a high five or better yet a hug. Instead I just glanced at her out of the corner of my left eye trying to muster up enough courage to whisper what my heart was saying – “you sweet girl are so brave and inspiring.” But before my voice box caught up to my brain she finished her walk and moved on. I went back to my phone and opened my Kindle app. It was on the most recent book I’m reading Remember God by Annie Downs and the very first sentence I read almost stopped me in my tracks. It felt like it had literally jumped from my screen, it said “maybe the limp is healing.” I can’t make this stuff up if I tried. It continued with a short story of a man in the Bible, Jacob, who formed a limp and then, THEN (here’s where I started looking over my shoulder for a bearded man in a toga) I read this – “He (Jacob) wanted a blessing, and he got a limp. Or maybe, the limp was his blessing.”
Ok God. Way to make your point clear. I left the gym and have thought about those words ever since. It got me thinking about my own limp though not apparent while I walk but so very evident when I chase after my dreams.
I tend to start towards my dreams at a dead sprint only to find myself stalled by my fears, my insecurities and my comparisons to others who are running in the lane next to me. I go from sprinting to limping because I want the blessing but not the difficulties and disappointments, and frustrations and failures that come between the start line and the finish line. Instead of pushing through and slowing my pace to a walk, I just stop all together.
I start the blog post, the journal entry, the outline of the book, the first chapter, but never put the period. I let people read my writing, I post it on social media, I vulnerably put it out there, only to edit excessively and count the likes obsessively fearing others opinions, before my cursor inevitably finds it’s way to the delete button.
I believe in miracles, pray for a baby, trust that God’s timing is perfect, and then I cry in the waiting room at the gynecologist, text my husband curse words and basically give God the middle finger because he’s blessed every other woman in that waiting room but me.
I start the diet, then I eat the ice cream. Ev-er-ry-day.
I show up to the gym, but I don’t really show up.
I wake up early and give myself time to drink my coffee, and cuddle the dog, and put lipstick on, and I set my alarm to do the same thing the next day then I hit snooze 39 times and have 15 minutes to make myself look like a human before rushing out of the house – careful not to spill the coffee on the dog or put lipstick on my teeth.
I sprint, I Iimp, I stop.
But the thing that God so blatantly pointed out today is that limping isn’t a reason to stop. Limping is a reason to keeping moving forward. It’s not a burden, it’s a blessing.
Because it is when we take the first step, He takes the greatest leaps.
Our steps may be uncomfortable, and awkward and downright painful, but when we move a little He moves a lot.
The proof of this promise was evident in the beautiful young girl with the limp next to me at the gym, and the beautifully aged woman who limped to the table next to me at the coffee shop where I took a small, unsteady step towards one of my own dreams.
Here’s to limping forward.