// dear friends: it’s okay to take it slow. //

Yesterday, my family and I went hiking.

There are no extraordinary events of this hiking trip I need to share or anything; no, I’m talking more about the things I was thinking about as we hiked.

You see, for the past year or so, I’ve developed a slight anxiety over downward slopes. Particularly those of the rocky, tree-root variety. Even if they aren’t actually steep, they look so to me, and as a result I am extremely cautious about where I step. I’m not entirely sure where this anxiety originates– maybe vision problems that alter my distance perception somewhat, maybe one too many falls over the years– but it’s there, and while it doesn’t (usually) make me back down from hikes, it makes me very, very slow when it comes to those downward paths.

So yesterday, as we hiked and I carefully, slowly, made my way down rocks and roots, I was thinking:

I am going very slow, yes. It’s a little frustrating, yes. But you know what? As long as I get to where I need to be, and as long as I don’t fall, it’s okay. Right now, I just need to focus on the next steps.

Matt and Dad were in front of me, hurrying down the sloping path as if it was nothing. And to them, it wasn’t. The fast pace suited them. Rocks and roots weren’t a challenge for them like they were for me. At first, I was looking ahead at them and wishing I could keep up. I was apologizing constantly for going slower than they did– and then I realized that I didn’t have to.

They were encouraging me, but not insisting that I hurry up and match their pace. I had Mom behind me, trusting that she’d have my back if I were to fall. I was careful, and slow, and maybe that wasn’t a bad thing.

I think that we often get it into our heads that we need to always be rushing through life, trying our best to keep up with where everyone else is. It’s our generation’s mindset: get to the Next Thing as fast as you possibly can.

The thing is, life isn’t that simple or easy. Each person’s story is different, and each person faces different obstacles at different points of their journey– and responds to them differently. What might be hard and anxiety-inducing for me might not hinder you at all– and that is okay. If you’re the first to reach a milestone, that’s wonderful and I am happy for you! If you’re the last to reach that milestone, don’t be discouraged, because you still had the courage to get there in your own time, and that’s wonderful too!

Yes, there are times when it is necessary to do certain things by a specific age or time. There are times when we need to step up and recognize that we simply can’t do this on our own timing. God makes it pretty clear when this is the case.

But He also tells us that we need to be still and know that He is God. He also tells us that we will find rest in Him. He never tells us to always be rushing ahead, to always be first, to always keep up with everyone else– no, He tells us to simply walk with Him. To follow where He leads. And walking down the path that He has for us looks different for everyone.

The key is to focus more on when God is telling you to move than on how quickly– or slowly!– everyone around you is moving.

If you’re facing daunting downward slopes filled with rocks and roots– take a deep breath, fix your eyes on Jesus, and focus on taking the next step. Take the time you have in moving at the pace He leads you to appreciate beautiful things like sunlight on dust and tree-lined paths and cloudless blue skies up above. (People who are moving too fast often miss those things.) Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be brave and keep moving forward, and with people who’ve got your back if you slip and fall. And trust that the One who guides your steps will see you through until the end of the path– and beyond.

It’s okay to run ahead without fear.

It’s also okay to step cautiously and to admit that you’re afraid.

As long as you’re following God, you’ll get there just fine, friend.

Take heart, pray for courage and guidance, and then take the next step.


{love always, Em}