4 ways to take a walk like a believer

When I am worried or in danger of becoming obsessed with myself, I need outside air like a drug- to drink my coffee on the back deck; to sit on the bench in the front yard; to lean back on the warm concrete at dusk; to chat with a neighbor on our painted porch steps. It’s time to take a walk.

All walks are not created equally. I can walk in worry and in fear. I can walk fast to try to catch up to an expectation – beauty, deadline, stress-relief. There are different ways to take a walk and none of them are wrong. But when I am mildly obsessed with myself, I have to practice walking like a believer.

Carry the questions. If you go on a walk looking for answers, you may come home with two hands filled with disappointment. But oh, the peace to be found in learning to carry around your questions, in learning, as Ruth Haley Barton says, to “be with what is.” Let the day be the day without trying to run away from it.

Open your hands. And whatever is, open your hands to it. If it is the elation of love, delight in it. If it is the disappointment of heartbreak, feel it. If it is the boredom of this regular Wednesday, give yourself permission to be unremarkable today. You can wow them tomorrow. Today is for small.

Breathe in love. Love is patient and kind. And then, not a list of what love is, but a list of what it isn’t. Love is not jealous, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, or a score-keeper. Resist the urge to turn your walk into a rhythm of scores and grievances. Instead, love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This is what love always does, what He always does. Breathe in the deep color of this love, because it’s as real as oxygen anyway.

Breathe out thanksgiving, for those two feet carrying your whole body around. Two tiny feet! You are a miracle. And those trees you pass under with branches that could send your spirit straight up to heaven if they chose the right time to fall? Breathe out his faithfulness. Praise God for the invisible hands that hold those branches in place. You are alive and the sky is not falling. At least not today.


  1. Joy says

    And praise God for your words Emily. Words that He gives to you, so you can share them with us and build us all up and strengthen us and remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Thank you for not shirking that task. Thank you for not keeping those words for only you. Thank you for not hiding your light under a bushel.

  2. says

    Beautiful, Emily… And just what I needed to hear today. I love the Ruth Haley Barton quote… “be with what is”. May it be true of me today… and every day after. Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    Sometimes we need to carry the questions for awhile; sometimes forever.

    And, I’m just drinking in some creativity too! … “breathe in the deep color of this love..”
    I could just fall down in delirious giggles – spiritually speaking, of course!

  4. says

    “…Give yourself permission to be unremarkable today. You can wow them tomorrow. Today is for small.” Thank you. These words are like cold iced tea on a hot, drippy summer day. I needed to hear this today.

  5. says

    I may need to drink this in a few times before my next walk. Such wisdom in your words . . . that come from experience. Walking does this for me too, it gives marvelous perspective.

  6. anuradha says

    Dear Emily,
    I closed my eyes in prayer before clicking the get mail box. Please dear God, provide me with words to lift me high in this troubled moment, I asked. And like a wonder, your words flashed on the screen, and it could not have been more perfect. So I printed them out, and sat on the wooden bench on the front porch, warmed my back on the warm red tiles of the sun-soaked house and stared at the swaying branches of the old birch tree above. And thinking on your list, I found myself breathing more freely, and breathing in nature’s love. In gratitude, for reminding me how to take a walk, Anuradha

  7. says

    I just walked in from a walk like this… it is so easy to start out being on a walk looking for answers, but amazing how much easier (lighter, freeing) it is to walk and just let it all be, let yourself be…

  8. says

    Sometimes it is not obsessing with ourselves but obsessing over what consumes us…what takes away our breath. I will strive for my walks to be more like yours….fulfilling and faith filled.

  9. says

    A walk can be a wonderful time to employ a tool that Christians have used for centuries–the “breath prayer”–a prayer so short that you can say over and over as you breathe. One of the best-known is sometimes called the “Jesus prayer”: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Reciting such a prayer can be vain repetition–but it CAN be life-giving and extremely calming–the perfect accompaniment to taking in the wonder of God’s creation.

  10. says

    This is good food. Thank you for always making it live for me; faith manifest in everyday, normal-girl action. You always make me cry and laugh in the same post, and I think I’ll paint this on my wall (in big, big letters):
    “Carry the questions,
    Open your hands,
    Breathe in love,
    Breathe out thanksgiving.”

  11. VHiggins says

    I feel like I just took a lovely walk with a friend who I feel comfortable staying quiet with.
    “If it is the boredom of this regular Wednesday, give yourself permission to be unremarkable today. You can wow them tomorrow. Today is for small.”
    This touched my heart so much, thank you for taking your readers for a quiet walk!

  12. Jeannie S says

    Oh Emily, this is a beautiful. Thank you for sharing and touching my heart. Sweet Blessings on you.

  13. says

    And thank you’s (this is my part two from before:) ) lots of those for this inspiration to open up a receive the all. And to walk out in thanksgiving the everythings that come to us. Thank you Emily, if it weren’t raining I would be inspired to walk. But I can actually. walk out my day with new insights because I was here today..

  14. says

    It is so difficult to accept what is and to suppress the desire for what is not. That must be why we are told repeatedly to give thanks to God; He wants us to be content in the moment. That’s a habit I need to develop.

  15. Angie says

    This is a beautiful post and so timely for me. I am in danger of becoming obsessed with myself today and yesterday. I am overthinking instead of allowing things to just be as they are and actually feeling them, no matter what they are. And I love what you said about just letting the day be the day without trying to run away from it. Thank you for this reminder of grace and faithfulness.

  16. says

    This is beautiful, Emily. I often take walks when I’m stressed, or with a purpose that has me half sprinting along the sidewalk. What I need to do, what I’ve promised myself are to take walks just to walk with God. Thank you, thank you.

    • says

      um, what? There is a beNch in my front yard, if that is what you mean. I read the post again and that is the only thing I can think of that you could be talking about. Did I spell bench wrong?!

  17. says

    so odd that I would choose today to stop by here & catch up. i so needed this, like you can’t imagine. thank you always for your wonderful words & your sweet spirit.

  18. Marcy says

    Read this post on the patio during my get-a-grip time. I hear God when I see the trees. “Let the day be the day without trying to run away from it.” ….exactly why I was on the patio in the first place. Thank you for putting words to my heart!

  19. Juli vrotney says

    Thanks for bringing in the scriptures into your writing….I needed to hear those verses especially about, love always protecting.

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