As my originally scheduled battle buddy is ill, I put out a call on Facebook for any local friends who might want to sub. Luckily, my friend TMB volunteered. Now, a little bit of background…TMB, who requested that I add her middle initial to avoid sounding like a disease, is a lovely friend with a wry sense of humor. I have discovered recently that seeing her in a full-fledged laugh, blue eyes sparkling, is one of life’s great joys. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t happen very often. You see, the Lord has blessed her mightily, but he has also put significant and heart wrenching challenges in her life. The last two years have been a brutal test of endurance, but her spirit remains unbowed.
I always like to hear how people who really have known pain and suffering talk to God. None of this pussy-footing around with politeness, these folks have a well-earned shorthand with the big guy. They are old friends who have been in the foxhole together, seen some s**t and are entwined with each other at a cellular level. God and TMB? They’re like this (fingers crossing).
I read this great essay once that talked about spiritual growth in terms of a baby learning to walk. As the baby wobbles and tilts, he reaches up to his mother to be carried. The mother, knowing that the baby needs to develop the muscles in his legs in order to get stronger and steadier, will sometimes refuse to pick the baby up and encourage him to continue walking. But the mother stays close, holding the baby’s hand, providing support and balance where needed. Soon enough, having had enough practice, the baby becomes a full-fledged toddler and walking becomes as natural as breathing.
I think that spiritual growth is like that. We are given opportunities in our lives to exercise our spiritual muscles, situations where our choices either bring us closer to God or take a step away from Him. God is always there, watching, encouraging, even cheering for us to choose the right…but it’s our work to do. When we fall – and we invariably fall – He is there to pick us up, dust us off, and send us on our way again. But eventually, choosing His way becomes muscle memory, if you will. I’ve experienced that since my conversion, in somewhat painful ways if I’m being honest. I’m still wobbling and falling on my (ahem) here and there. But I’m growing. I notice it in ways large and small every day.
So how does all that relate to my friend? I guess I feel as if, by virtue of her life’s trials, she a little farther down the road than I am. I see how central her faith is to her life by her actions: she carries her crosses as a matter of course and goes about her business of serving her family and her community. Without saying a word, she is an amazing witness to her faith. Someone mentioned to me recently that, really, my Camino had already begun with these training walks. And they were right. I am treasuring the opportunity to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with these amazing women, and to reflect on how God is working in my life through them.
So this post is supposed to be about walking, right? Well, TMB and I walked 8 kilometers on Friday and it felt amazing. Thanks for being such a great battle buddy, TMB! I am encouraged by my progress, and by the continued good weather.