Research has made clear the dangers of driving while distracted. We’ve been well cautioned that behaviors like talking on the cell phone, fiddling with radio dials, chatting with fellow passengers, reading texts, balancing beverages and, the one I am guiltiest of, putting the finishing touches on our make-up do not mix. Likely you’ve had your own distracted experience and can testify to the truth of the research.
But what about distracted walking?
Never thought of it, have you? As one STILL dealing with a broken foot, I can tell you that it is a real thing. A very real thing! I don’t need the research to tell me (but it’s available) that walking while distracted can cause serious bodily harm to the walker.
The CDC reports: “In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.6 hours. Additionally, almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash on each trip.” (See https://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Pedestrian_safety/index.html)
While one is not likely to be putting on mascara while walking, it seems that many of the same distractions impact drivers and walkers. Bottom line, we need to watch where we walk. The CDC actually advises that one needs to be aware of his/her surroundings. Since my “tumble” and subsequent broken foot, I have become almost obsessive about watching where I am walking.
Maybe, though, I need to be a bit more specific. I have become preoccupied with looking at the ground. I am watching for pebbles, cracks, debris – anything that might cause my foot (which is still in a CAM boot) to twist or cause me to lose my balance, stumble and fall.
It dawned on me recently, though, that perhaps I haven’t been as conscientious about my real walk. My daily walk. My Christian walk.
Am I watching where I am going? Where are my eyes – on the world or on Jesus? Am I distracted?
In this case, my focus needs to shift.
Rather than looking down (at those things, people or situations that have tried to bring me low) or back (at my past – good or bad) or around (at the world), I need to be looking up – to the resurrected Christ! The truth of the matter is that where you look is where you will go.
Looking down, we can become consumed by our troubles. Looking back, we can miss the opportunities before us. Looking around, we can become caught up in the trappings of this world.
Let’s look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith!” (Hebrews 12:2a, ESV)
I started this morning kinda hard. Really hard. As in face down on some cement. This is how it happened…
I went out early for my morning walk (trying to make at least three miles each day). On my way to the walking track my feet got tangled in some orange safety netting. So much for safety because down I went scraping elbows, palms and worse of all, my knees. Both of them. You have to know that I am super protective of my knees. Osteoarthritis has long plagued both, and as I age, it has gotten progressively worse. Injuring a knee is the LAST thing I want to happen.
Oh well, so much for wanting because I hurt them – scrapes, bruises and swelling.
At this point I wasn’t sure if I was glad or not that no one was around. My pride was glad that I was alone, but I surely needed some help getting up because I had to kneel on the cement and those injured knees to stand. More scraping. More bruising. And now some blood, sweat and tears.
Nevertheless, I was able to stand and limp back to my car. I dusted myself off, grabbed some tissues to blot the blood and searched my knapsack for a bandage. No luck. I thought I might still be able to walk (I want to get those three miles in!) if I could just get some bandages and maybe some Neosporin and Aleve. Close to a grocery store, I drove there. Not open. Passed two drug stores. Not open. Ahhhhhh, a dollar store! And it was open.
Still early in the morning, there was only one person working in the store and now me. At this point my knees were swelling and because of the bleeding my pants were sticking to them. I said, “Good morning, can you tell me where the first aid supplies are?” The clerk responded, “Huh?” I said, “Band Aids” to which she replied, “Aisle 12.” Now hobbling (Is this worse than limping? It felt worse.), I made it to what I thought was Aisle 12, but I did not see bandages, Neosporin or anything else that looked like a first aid supply except some cotton balls. Tears welled in my eyes; I was hurting. I called to the lady, “Maam” (That’s what we say in the South even though I suspect I was twice her age at least.) “Excuse me, but I don’t see any bandages.” She snapped, “I said Aisle 12; you are on 13!” As my grandmother used to say, “I don’t know who licked the red off of her candy,” especially so early in the morning, but I just needed some bandages and to elevate and ice these knees.
Over to Aisle 12. Band Aids, Neosporin and Bacitracin. Passing by the cooler, I grabbed a bottle of cold water – to drink and to put on these now throbbing knees. My elbows and palms had begun to burn. I stopped at the first register to pay. The clerk walked past me to the third register and yelled, “Down here.” My Lord, more steps. And in the wrong direction – away from the door, the parking lot and my car. By now I am beginning to tremble (don’t know if it was nerves, anxiety or something else). Trembling and tearing I fumble into my purse to pay. The clerk takes my money and throws (literally) my stuff in the bag mumbling, “Come again; have a nice day.”
A nice day?!
She never looked up.
She didn’t even see me.
Yes, she saw a woman come into the store. If I’d committed a crime, she probably would have been able to report accurately to the police that I am Black, heavyset and was wearing black trousers. She might be able to add that I wore my hair in a ponytail. Beyond that, she didn’t see me. She didn’t see ME. The hobble (or limp). The tears. The trembling. The need for help. The need for a gentle response.
Rather than be angered, I thought, “How many times have I not seen people?” How many times have I been guilty of having a conversation (“Come again; have a nice day.”) without really seeing the person (or meaning the words)?
We are commanded to love each other (John 15:12), to lay down our lives (John 15:13), to give (Matthew 5:42) and to look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4) all so that we might point others to Christ and so that our Father in heaven may be glorified (Matthew 5:16). We can do none of this if we do not first “see” people.
In my car, crying and bleeding, I prayed, “Father, open my eyes and my heart that I will never pass another person and not “see” them.” I am grateful to the Lord for this early morning lesson; I just wish I could have gotten it a little less painfully. 😉
As with most things in life, there is a “best” posture. A posture for divers. A posture for runners. A poster for walkers. Mine is surely not “the best.” It’s kinda “slumpy” at times, especially in the third mile.
But I’ve noticed something interesting about myself and my walking; it happened just this morning, but I realized this was not the first time. I even came to realize that it is something that happens with a degree of automaticity.
Let me try to paint a picture.
I was in my third mile. It was hot; it’s always hot in July in North Carolina. And it was humid; it’s always humid in July in North Carolina. My clothes were beginning to droop as was my hair, my brow, my spirits and, yes, my posture. Heading home there is a slight hill. In my car I barely notice it; walking, it’s Mount Everest! I was really thinking that I might not make it, and then it happened.
Someone drove past me.
I immediately straightened my back, picked up my pace and unfurled my brow. It’s as if I suddenly forgot how tired I was, how sweaty I was, how desperate I was to reach the shower and my air conditioned home. I instantly had a walker’s posture!
Isn’t that how we are at times – changing our posture, changing our “walk” when others are around to see? Here’s a news flash: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes…” (Hebrews 4:13a NLT) Add to this that “[p]eople judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT).
As Christians and believers, ours is to ALWAYS be a posture that reflects our LORD, not just when others pass us by. Joy Williams asked in her song by the same title, “Do they see Jesus in me?” That’s the “best” posture in our daily walk, one that reflects Jesus to others – His love, His mercy and His grace. He alone is “the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:13b NLT)
I’m not entirely convinced that running is that good for you. Too many ‘things’ that wiggle, jiggle, flap and bounce.
Walking, though, is a good thing.
But walking is a funny thing, too.
I’ve been walking in a quest to be healthier. It’s funny how I now notice other people walking. Kinda like the red car theory – you tell people not to think about red cars and suddenly, they’re every where. But not really; they were always there. You just begin to notice them more. Same thing if you buy a red car. Suddenly it seems you see red cars at every turn.
Back to this walking thing. Some people are what we call pigeon-toed. (The correct term is in-toeing.) Others are slew-footed (a terrible term we used as children, but the correct term is out-toeing.) Still others walk with limps, skips and hops. My neighbor takes three steps, stops, stands and takes three more. He moves very slowly, but I applaud his continuous effort.
As Christians we are called to walk, not to run. As a matter of fact, we read in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that the race is not to the swift. But we read also in Colossians 1:10 that we are to walk worthy of the Lord.
That latter Scripture is one that I’ve been pondering.
What does that look like – walking worthy? The Scripture continues and says we not only are to walk worthy, but to please Him in all respects. It is that simple three letter word “all” that gave me the most insight. First, let’s get it clear that we can never earn God’s love and this Scripture is not about us trying to walk in a way that earns us anything or in a way that proves that we are worth or deserving of anything. It also does not mean that we walk so that God becomes obligated to acknowledge us or that God is somehow enriched because of us – in the same way that a skilled surgeon is “worth” a lot to a hospital or a knowledgeable leader is “worth” a lot to a school.
Remember that the Scripture not only said to walk worthy of the Lord but to walk to please Him in all respects. Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Consider these Scriptures together, and walking worthy means to walk – act, behave, exist in a way that shows how worthy and gracious our God is. Walking worthy means walking by faith.
Let’s go a little further.
Walking is, for most of us, an everyday act. Whether walking to work, walking in our yard or walking around our house. And because it is such a common act, I believe Colossians is telling us that in all our acts, all our doing, all our being, all our thinking, all our speaking, all our choosing…, we are to exhibit our faith in God. This is walking worthy to please in all respects.
If you are not careful, you can struggle with Scriptures such as Colossians 1:10, so let’s talk about what walking worthy does not mean. It doesn’t mean walking perfectly. As we walk worthy, in faith we walk in step with the Lord and in the shadow of His grace remembering that He alone is worthy.
The walking that I’ve been doing to better my health is not for the faint of heart. My friend and I walk miles – one, two, three. We’ve not made a continuous four mile walk yet, though I know that some days we have walked that and more in totality of steps. We’ve walked in the hot summer heat and humidity. We’ve walked in the rain. We’ve walked mornings and evenings. It’s not always fun, but it is for our good.
Walking worthy is not for the faint of heart but it, too, is for our good. The really good news is that we do not walk alone. God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our Helper and to walk along side us (John 14:26). The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave enables us and equips us to walk worthy of His call.
Finally, understand that just as our human gaits are different – remember in-toeing, out-toeing – so our Christian walks may appear different. Do not compare your walk to another’s. Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk with Him.” I believe that Scripture tells us two things: (1) “As you have received” meaning, “Now that you have received,” you are to walk with the Lord, but also (2) “As you have received” meaning “The unique gift He has given you guides you” as you walk with the Lord. The latter I read much as I read Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4 that we, as Christians, are given different gifts. We are given different walks, but all are walks of faith and all are to walk pleasing to the Lord.
How’s your walk?
THIS WEEK reflect on your personal walk. Are you walking worthy? Just as you need to prepare for a physical walk (proper shoes, right outfit, water…), you must prepare to walk worthy to please the Lord in all respects. The first preparation is a surrendered heart and relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do not know Christ as your personal Savior, visit the Salvation page (tab at the top of this page). Pray to receive Christ as ruler of your Life, and He will send His Holy Spirit to walk along side you.
If you are saved, reflect to determine if anything is hindering your walk. We choose walking paths that are smooth and obstacle free. Nothing like a twisted ankle because you stepped on an uneven surface, rock or twig. There an be obstacles in our spiritual walks, too, and sometimes we place them; sometimes we embrace them – addiction to television, busyness, overextending ourselves, video games… Identify and address your obstacles.
Lastly, reflect on the uniqueness of your walk. Are you trying to walk in someone else’s shoes? Trying to be like your pastor? Trying to be like a television evangelist? Trying to be like someone you have deemed great? Walk the way and in the way that God’s Holy Spirit calls and leads you. If you are not sure of or do not understand your walk, pray and ask God to reveal His will for you.