We're riding a four-wheeler to the end of our pasture when I see it.
A simple evening ride, relaxing the shoulders, breathing deep, listening to the wind through the long grass that we still haven't bothered to mow. These moments are ones for which I'm trying to make intentional room in the middle of all the busy- eating peaches on the porch, an extra moment to notice how the light spills over the floor, an evening ride with my husband through the land that I'm still a little shy to call "mine."
We turn to head back home, and I notice.
The wavy paths cut through the pasture- like raindrops coursing down a car window, like neurons in the brain... not gridlined or parallel, no sort of structure followed.
I turn to my husband, my window to the world of all things agriculture, "Look at that!"
"Cow paths," he replies. "Just like us, the cattle like taking the easy way, so they follow one another and use the same route over and over."
And I realize that those paths really are like neurons.
|Image Sources: Cattle Path (left), Neuron (right)|
I think of an article I read that explained that repetition of the same mental narratives we create, good or bad, become engraved- actually changing the physical shapes in our brains. We repeat the same attitudes, the same solutions, the same feelings, when we encounter similar situations. It's an actual, physical structure in our minds.
Over and over, we replay the same things in our minds, until we've worn down a trail in the brain. And those grooves can get deep. It's easier to continue on the accepted path, the status quo, the easy road, than it is to forge a new neurological trail.
And I think about all the times I've taken that worn out old trail.
How I almost instinctively react to a disappointment the same way that I've reacted a hundred times before. How the messages in my mind replay the same lies, the same brokenness, that I've heard time and again.
Just taking the easy way.
But I'm trying really hard to press on, to push forward and do the forging. I'm working to take every thought captive, to fix my eyes on the good and the lovely and the true.
I'm fighting to reclaim myself, the way I was supposed to be, before the questions and the lies and the hurt came in.
And sometimes, it's really hard.
That easy way, the way I've always done it, looks so tempting. So smooth. Sometimes I just don't want to grow anymore because I'm tired of pushing and tired of trying to find the light.
But at the same time, there's freedom in it, you know? There's power when I have grace enough to look at this thing that would have crushed me a year ago, a month ago, and stand strong.
I'm asking myself the questions.
Who am I?
Where do I live?
Who am I?
Where do I live?
Retraining. Carefully placing one foot in front of the other and claiming a new trail. Making a path that changes my direction, straightens my walk, brings me closer to transformation.
I'm retraining. Spending time in the Truth, in the Word, letting it sink deep into my cells.
When work is too much for my limited bandwidth, where I once thought, I can't handle this. I shouldn't be expected to deal with all these things...
I now walk this trail in my mind: When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
And I ask, Who am I? I am one in whom Christ dwells.
Where do I live? I live in the unshakable Kingdom of God.
And if that's true? A missed assignment or a phone message that waits for tomorrow do not define me, and they will not crumple my purpose.
It's a slow change, and I still find myself walking those old cow paths that are so ingrained, so habitual. But every time I choose to follow the path Christ has marked out for me, I deepen this new way of thinking, this new avenue that brings so much life.
It's transforming, this knowing who I am. The Word of God has given me the tools to make a path the world doesn't recognize, to challenge the accepted roads of life.
And it makes all the difference.
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