Wood Lilies

This was written September 1, 2008

On Friday, I went jogging on the UNF nature trails. On my way there I was frustrated and, for some reason, trying to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

While I was jogging I was angry. I don’t really know why. Everything was catching up to me. It wasn’t like everything I struggle with was bothering me, but the fact that I am struggling was bothering me. I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about certain things I don’t want to think about. I don’t know why I have to constantly fight a seemingly hopeless battle against a negative mood and despairing outlook on not only my life, but the meaning of everything. I don’t know why I have to anxiously and constantly fight persistent anxiety. I don’t know why God hasn’t freed me. I don’t know why the Creator of the universe is so slow to do something. I don’t know why. I just don’t know.

The trails were still torn up from Fay, and branches were lying everywhere and several trees were blocking the path. Even much of the trail was still flooded. I was thinking things like, “This school doesn’t give a crap about theses nature trails.” or “They don’t care if I want to come here and enjoy nature” because I had to climb over and under thin tree trunks. Not only was I angry with tripping over sticks and leaves, but the heat was stifling. The humidity made it even worse with all of the standing water in the sun. The water smelled like something was rotting, and the mosquitos in the areas where there was water came in swarms.

But nothing was going to stop me. Not even the big banana spiders and their webs. I was doing whatever it took to keep going, to make it to the other side. I batted down webs with sticks, I jumped off the trail to try to go around the water, my feet were sinking in the mud, and the heat was overwhelming. And I was angry. Extremely angry. Nothing was going to keep me from getting to the other side. I kept moving with my face throbbing in the heat. Nothing can stop me. I have to get to the other side. I had to.

Then it happened. I reached a place I simply could not cross. There was too much water. It stretched as far as I could see on the trail. I don’t know how to describe my frustration. Now I had to go back. I had to go all the way back. I bent over in exhaustion with my hands on my knees.

When I looked up, I saw a flower only a foot from my face. It was a bright orange wood lily. I immediately began sobbing. I cried in that spot for probably ten minutes. I can’t put it all into words, but I remembered that my life was not meaningless. My life is heading somewhere beautiful, and even though I may not get to the “other side” with everything, there is always beauty in my current place. And God wired me to see that flower as beautiful only because He wanted to. Even though I couldn’t finish the trail, and even though I had to stop, and even though I wasn’t intending on seeing any flower, the wood lily made it all worth it. It was all worth it just to see that lily.

I began to wonder, where did my thirst for adventure go? When I was little, running through a flooded forest with downed trees and unexpected twists and turns would have been a dream come true. I would have marveled at all the fallen trees and broken branches and flooded paths knowing that it was all the result of a single storm. The spiders would have seemed dangerously intriguing, not annoying. When was my thirst and hope for adventure replaced by fear and worry? When was my fun with the variety and potential danger of situations replaced with frustration and annoyance?

I feel like certain things in life have left me cynical and overwhelmed and stressed and hopeless and full of despair. Like things are never going to get better, as if I know the future. When I hope for anything good, I immediately think that my hopes are much too high and I am going to get hurt. Then depressing Christians come along with a distorted view of what it means to “take up your cross” as if it means we are supposed to be sad and suffer all the time. As if we should feel guilty and ashamed. As if we are supposed to sit around begging for God to make us feel better. Jesus saved your soul from hell! Rejoice! We’ve got it GOOD!

I don’t want to live in fear of getting hurt. I don’t want to live in guilt and shame. I want to live. I want to see beauty and have passion and get furiously angry and be so happy it annoys others and cry until there is nothing left and laugh until I can’t breathe. I just want to live this gift from God called life.

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