Cabin fever got to me this morning. Our family has had a series of vehicle repairs over the past two months, so my car has often been in use by one of my sons. It’s been cold, snowy, and icy, which makes it hard to go on walks. I haven’t had any place to go other than church and the grocery store, so I’ve become something of a hermit. I’ve been trapped in my house, with nothing much changing from day to day.
This morning, it was too much to take. I needed to get out of my house. I needed to move my body. I needed to soak in some sunshine. And I really needed to spend some time with God outside my house.
I bundled up. I added extra layers under my jeans and sweater. I put a pair of my husband’s thick work socks on over my own socks. I had a warm scarf under my warmest coat, ear muffs, and a hood/scarf combo on over the ear muffs. I donned two pairs of gloves. I felt a little like that kid in A Christmas Story who is so bundled up that he can’t move his arms.
I began my journey, all bundled up against the cold.
And it was very cold. With the brisk wind, our zero-degree weather felt like 18 below. It’s what we referred to as “booger-freezing weather” when I was a kid. My sinuses were frozen. My eyeballs stung. My eyes teared up. I wondered if tears would freeze on my eyelashes. As my breath escaped from a gap in my scarf, my eyeglasses fogged up—and promptly froze so I couldn’t even see where I was going. I tried to figure out if there was a different way to cover my nose so I could see better what was ahead of me, but I couldn’t find one. Other than my exposed eyes and nose, though, I felt perfectly comfortable under my layers.
It was a somewhat treacherous walk. Ice lay deceptively under the snow that had blown all over the sidewalks. Due to a recent thawing/freezing/thawing/freezing cycle, piles of snow at corners had become piles of ice. I had to take my glasses off so I could at least see a blur rather than frozen fog. I saw the footsteps of others that had frozen into these ice piles. I carefully balanced one foot and then the next, just to finish crossing the street and get back onto a sidewalk—which was covered with lumpy frozen ice.
Many times, I wondered why I had decided that walk was a good idea. By the time I realized the walk was a dumb idea, I was far enough away that turning around would be just as hard as finishing my intended route.
I briefly worried that I might fall. Between the ice, my middle-aged knees, and my complete lack of natural grace, it was a realistic concern. I did slip a few times, but I always regained my balance before falling. No one else was out (gee, I wonder why not?), so if I fell, no one would see and know to come help. I was glad I had my cell phone on me. I knew that my husband was near his phone, just a few blocks away, ready to come pick me if I needed him.
And God was there, the whole time. Even as I dealt with frozen sinuses and stinging eyes, He was there, speaking into my heart about some things in my life.
The Journey Toward Intimacy
In a lot of ways, this walk reminded me of my early journey to improve the intimacy in our marriage. The only reason I began the journey was that I was tired of being cooped up in the same old relationship, trapped in a never-changing, never-growing marriage. I began this journey all bundled up behind my walls. I had layered lots of protection around my heart, afraid of being hurt or frozen out. Like the little kid in the movie, I was so bundled up that I could barely move.
But I did, and it wasn’t easy. Everything behind my walls was perfectly warm and safe, but whatever I exposed, every new thing I tried stung. I tried to figure out how to cover up every exposed part of me so I could see what was coming and be prepared. I couldn’t. I second-guessed my decision to take this journey many times—but I just kept going.
I slipped many times, but I regained my balance and kept on moving. I stopped trying to look far ahead of me and just looked down at where my feet were stepping. I focused on where I was rather than how much farther I had to go.
I told no one—not even my husband—that I was attempting this journey, so if I’d fallen, who would even know I needed help?
God was there, the whole time. My journey toward full intimacy in my marriage opened my heart to God in ways I had never imagined. He has been there the entire time, helping me regain my balance when I start to slip. He reminds me that my husband is close by, ready to hold me at any time.
The closer I got to home this morning, the faster I was able to walk. I was invigorated from having been out in the fresh cold air and bright sunshine. I had spent some time with God. I saw the patch of ice on our own sidewalk. I knew that my husband was right inside the house, ready to come rescue me.
I reached out and grabbed God’s hand, and I slid right on home.
I did not fall.