Recently, I’ve had trouble getting out to walk the dog.
The first week we had him, I eagerly put his leash on every afternoon and took him around the neighborhood.
The first week or so we went one block.
The next week or so we went two.
He still didn’t seem tired.
After a couple weeks, a quick walk after work was turning into forty minutes of winding round and round our neighborhood.
This won’t do, I thought. I don’t have time for this.
So, I started running. I even bought shoes to run the dog around the neighborhood so it would be a quicker journey.
And I liked that too. I used to run quite a bit and so I was happy to get back to running. Riley seemed to be having fun as well.
But then, it started getting darker and colder. And I came home more and more tired.
And I didn’t want to run Riley on a weekday anymore.
One day earlier this week, I was changing my clothes and putting on my running shoes and grumbling. It had been two days since Riley went out and he needed the exercise. I found myself grumbling out loud, “I don’t want to do this!”
My husband heard me and said “Why?”
“It used to be fun, just a walk around the block and home. Now it’s like another box I have to check – must run one mile daily with Riley.”
He said, “Who ever said you had to do that?”
It stopped me in my tracks. It was true. All Riley needed was a walk today… around the block, around two. Walking, running… slow, fast.
I had created such a tight grip on the situation that I made it laborious. I made it something I no longer enjoyed. I even told myself Riley cared about exactly how this walk/run went. In truth, he’s joyous just getting outside and hitting the pavement each day (esp when he can meet other dogs!)
This week, Riley and I have run together. Riley and I have also taken a few shorter walk with one child at a time which gave me some much needed one on one time with my boys.
It has looked different each day.
And I’m starting to enjoy it again.
What do you have a tight grip on right now?
What have you inadvertently made laborious instead of joyful?
Maybe this prayer by Henri Nouwen can help:
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.”