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Love is a Tightrope

As an elementary school teacher, it was not an uncommon sight to meet a line of small children in the hallway with their hands folded behind their backs and their cheeks puffed out like blowfish as they followed their teacher like baby ducklings. Usually, in our school, they were following a set of paw prints on the floor designed to prompt them to stay in line on one side or the other. The littler they were, the more likely they were to be found following in this fashion. The older they were, the taller they got, the longer they had been walking those lines, the less instruction and prompting they required to do what was expected of them, to get them where they needed to go.

In Kindergarten, it's cool to have the best "duck tail" hands folded behind your back or the biggest "bubble" in your cheeks keeping your words at bay. School is brand new and you are longing for the teacher's approval and your peers' admiration. Give it a few years and that's old news. Everybody knows you're not supposed to talk in the hall. By that point, you've either decided you're good with that or you've found a way to be clever enough to get away with your chatter, and either way, drawing attention to oneself is no longer the goal.

The older we are, the taller we stand, the longer we've walked our same familiar lines, the less tolerance we have for being told where to go and how to get there.

The beginnings of our gumption may be evident in elementary school, but that same grit can also be witnessed in any nursing home any day of the week. Truth be told, glimpses can be seen in hospital nurseries just the same. People are born with a certain fire that drives them.

We know who we truly are all along. Temperament is evident from the start; grit is, too. In the beginning, we are so quick to follow, so apt to listen, so determined to stay in our very own lane. The littler we are, the more likely we are to be found following. The longer we walk, the harder it is to stay in our own lane. The voices grow louder, each with his or her own opinion of where we should go and how we should get there.

It's confusing for a rule-follower when the rules change with the wind.

Love was always meant to lead us. Rules never were.

All the well-meaning folks in our lives can do their level best to set our feet on the proper path, but it will be that inner determination that gets the final say. There is a time for following instructions with hands folded and mouths closed, but somewhere along the journey we arrive at a place where the most poised facade will inevitably crack. The floor runs out of paw prints to follow, if you will. The warmest teachers are left behind and we find ourselves at the door and, when faced with the choice to either shrink back or grow, we know we must go.

A lifetime spent looking around for souls like our own, for someone who can just hear the way our hearts beat, understand the words we are saying, receive what we are holding, see the burdens we are carrying leaves us weary and ready for surrender. The pounding within, the music without, the hope that drives, the purpose that calls - it all culminates in a call to courage.

The greatest courage of all is required to simply be who we are. That courage will only ever be found in surrender.

Surrender to the One who has already walked this tightrope ahead of us must come if ever we are going to make it to the other side.

We spend so long eyeing the heights, searching frantically for the safety net before we dare begin our ascent. We reach with trembling hands for the harness, then throw it down again. Why are we climbing anyway? Life looks like it would be better up there on the platform, but it's undoubtedly safer to stay on the ground. So grounded we stay.

For some of us though, the grit that's always been a part of us will never be quiet enough to let us remain there in safety. And so, eyes to the sky, jaws locked, and chins quivering, we climb. And we climb. We give it everything we've got to reach that coveted position in the sky: the platform, only to discover we were never called to platforms at all, but to tightropes.

Your tightrope doesn't look the same as mine, nor does the scenery beneath. What scares the breath of out of you might not cause me to flinch. The voices that have called to you from the head of the line probably don't sound anything like the ones that have led me here, but sister? You and I are faced with the same dilemma today, no matter where we are standing. We are called to courage.

The older we get, the taller we stand, the longer we remain with our feet in familiar places, the less tolerance we will have for being told where to go and how to get there.

Until we become bold enough to bow, sweet surrender will never be ours. Whether we stand today on the ground or the platform, that is as far as we will go on our own. This is as much as we will know.

Until we point our toes and lift our chins, this journey toward becoming who we truly are - and seeing all our Love has for us - is never even going to begin.

Unlike all the journeys we have taken before, the Voice calling out to us on this one is not merely giving us instructions meant for our safety.  The One showing us the way to Surrender is the same One that walked this terrifying tightrope all the way to the cross. He never wobbled, never wavered. Faith in the Father held His feet to the flame every step of the way and He arrived on the other side unscathed. He's showing us the way to do the same. No one knows our terrors like He knows our terrors. No one knows the cost like He knows the cost.

His scars outnumber ours.

He is prompting us to walk on, telling us the distance between here and there is not too far.

So walk on, sister.

Love is waiting on the other side.

And Love alone can lead us home.


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