Saturday, August 11, 2012

Moving Forward...Backward

Have you ever been at a point in life where you just thought you couldn't go on?  Maybe you were discouraged, overwhelmed, burned out...whatever you want to call it, you didn't think you could take another step. 

I've been there.  In fact, I was there earlier this week.  Let me share.  There's a place in northern Michigan known as Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  Many of you have been there.  In fact, you're probably laughing as you realize where this is going.  :-)

On Tuesday, I made my first visit to "The Dunes."  My husband and I were on a bit of an anniversary get-away, and I asked him to take me to several destinations in Michigan that I hadn't seen.  This was one of them.  After a nice, filling lunch at Olive Garden in Traverse City (mistake #1), we made our way to the dunes, kicked off our shoes (mistake #2), and began to climb (mistake #3). 

Let me just say that I underestimated this whole climb thing. I am extremely out of shape, and had intended to do some walking/biking before this trip because I knew I would be walking up to 10 miles and biking about 8 miles on Mackinac Island.  My husband has been biking 5 miles about every other day, and has lost some weight in the past few weeks, so he was feeling pretty good (not to mention his already enormous and toned muscles working in his favor).  I didn't want to be left in the dust.  :-) 

Anyway, the time came and I was not exactly physically ready.  I did great with walking and biking, but nothing prepared me for the climb.  About ten steps into it, my legs were burning like fire.  Ten more steps, and I was wishing I hadn't eaten lunch.  Ten more steps, I was kicking myself for not bringing my water bottle.  Greg was at the top of the hill within seconds (or so it seemed).  Other women were trucking past me like I was standing still (maybe I was).  My feet were hot from the scorched sand. I was out of breath, sweating like a pig, and waving Greg on.  I didn't want him to feel obligated to act like he knew me. 

Finally, I was at the point where I knew I couldn't take another step.  I was so upset at myself that I wanted to cry.  Really.  So, I turned around.  I didn't want to give up.  I argued with myself for a minute...or two.  I could see treetops, and the change of position made my aching muscles relax a bit.  I took a step backward (forward), then another, and a few more.  I could see my footprints in the sand, the parking lot was getting further away, and the view was getting more beautiful with each upward, backward motion.  Once I could see above the trees, I pulled out my phone and snapped this:

And then a few more steps backward, yet forward.  My spirits were lifting, I was focused on how far I had come rather than how far I had yet to climb, and the refreshment that came with the view was quite motivating! It didn't even bother me that I was the only person who was literally walking my way up the hill...backwards. 

About that time, a small voice began speaking to me.  He gave me some encouragement relative to life's difficult places, specifically those paths that seem to take it all out of me.  He showed me that when it's too overwhelming to look forward, I can look back.  Back to the place where I started, back across the footprints that mark the distance I've come, back to the promises He's kept, back at the dangers from which He guarded me, and back through each and every experience that has led me to where I am today.  Looking back is sometimes just what we need to keep us moving forward. 

As I progressed slowly up the dune, I caught a glimpse of a large shadow headed my way.  My husband had been to the top, explored everything there was to see, and said, "Let's head back...the view from up there isn't much different than this."  I'll have to admit, there wasn't a bit of argument in me.  :-)

Maybe your journey is taking you through one of
"those" places. 
A place that makes you groan and sweat,
a place that seems dark and never-ending,
a place for which you weren't prepared.
Don't give up...simply turn around and look back.
Look how far you've traveled.
See the obstacles you've overcome.
You can keep moving forward...even if you do it
walking backward!


  1. I remember visiting this sand dune fairly often when I was a girl. Yes, I could climb up ever so easily and RUN down! Well, I haven't done that in years, and probably would be in the same boat (or worse) as you! These pictures of the dunes brought back lots of memories when we would go with my grandparents and parents there. At my age, I think I'll stick with the dune buggy rides!

    I don't comment often, but I really enjoy reading your posts. You are an exceptional writer in my opinion! :o)

  2. Stephanie, Enjoyed this post. Very good devotional too. The pics you took were lovely.


  3. I just startled Annie like crazy when I started laughing put loud as I read your description of what was happening. Too funny!


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