with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Zigzag, huff puff

Seven days ago I was in Colorado looking for signs of elk with my husband. We hiked for six hours. The sweat poured down my arms and black flies swirled around my dirty hair. I have the bruises on my legs to prove just how many fallen trees I slow motion hurdled over. 

Towards the beginning (and then the end) of the hike, there was a hill. Pictures don’t do it justice, but it was a fairly big hill. Like most things in life that are worth it, hiking up that hill required a little zigzag and a little huff puff. The way down required that same zigzag and a little slip slide. I thought of that line as I skidded down the hill—what a good line, huh? It’s practical (a zigzag v. a direct line is much easier on your knees) and pithy. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the idea of zigzag for things in life that are worth it. 

Very rarely has there been anything in my life that was a straight shot right to the top or to my preferred final destination. No, there were zigzags. Some were unintentional while others were consciously decided upon pivots. A lot of times I knew what I wanted for the destination: to finish the marathon, to earn a B on the algebra test, to pay off a loan, to become a writer (still in progress!). Zigzags galore in those instances.

Other times, fewer times, I didn’t know what I wanted for the final destination: to marry a man who elk hunts, to go to college at the U of M, to live in Fargo, ND, to be a freelance grant writer. Zigzags happened in those instances, but I didn’t notice them as much because it felt like the destination more or less happened as it plopped into my lap.

I find lately that I’m in a season of not knowing what my preferred final destination is, but really wanting to. I wrote about that: envy when we don’t know what we want. I’m envious of people who know what they want. It’s similar to when I was a recent college graduate and was constantly overwhelmed with career/living possibilities. I was not even a little bit sure of what to do. Apparently that feeling isn’t singular to college grads, much to my dismay. I’m in it right now; this I don’t know what to do or where to live or how to be here and there or what I should focus my thoughts, finances, energy, and grit on. 

Basically, it feels like I’m in some sort of zig. We both are, my husband and I. To some degree, whatever happens to one of us happens to and/or affects the other. We are two and one.

While I’m in this zig, I’m grateful for the history I look back at. The zigzags on my way to studying for the algebra test helped me to solidify that working hard is good and also no, I do not want to do math for a living. My goodness, am I grateful I learned that. I’m sure the people who sat next to me in math class are grateful too—they dealt with a lot of my frustrated tears!

So, how did the zigzags happen? My long and short answer is this: God. I’m of the mindset that my skills, gifts, desires, dollars in my bank account, and physical possessions are all from Him. Psalm 105:1-5 encourages us to tell of all His wonderful works. I need only to look back at the zigzags to see and “remember the wondrous works that he has done.” My pastor did a sermon on these verses; history is His Story. He authored it all and we can see how His character has stayed the same from the beginning until now.

In my “I don’t know-ness”, I can look back at all the other seasons of  “I don’t know-ness” and see how he had a hand in each zigzag. I can trust that He’s got a hand in this one that feels like a zig. I’m of course still doing things like trying to be present and steward my resources well because I must still be taking action. However, I could stand to do it with a little more trust in His unchanging, providing character. I’m grateful that is also an option and an action. 

How do you handle your zigzags?

P.S. Here’s the view from the almost top. Like I said, worth it.

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