Posted by: Kara Luker | September 21, 2017

Forging new paths

Fork in RoadWhen I leave my house for the beach or to see family, I turn left at the end of my driveway and hop on the freeway. Nearly everywhere else I go requires a right turn at the driveway’s end followed by a well-worn path through side streets to Irvine Boulevard, which takes me to all manner of necessary places like Target, the pediatrician and swimming lessons. When I jump in my car, I only need to spend a moment’s focus to know which direction I’m turning and then autopilot takes over while Chase and I chat or my mind wanders freely.

The trouble occurs when I’m attempting to go somewhere different; say Chase’s school, which is new this year. The directions start out the same as they would for a shopping trip – the first two turns, in fact – and then, if I actually want to get to school rather than Trader Joe’s, the path changes. Of course I know this. I’m not an idiot. And yet twice, last week alone, my car turned toward the shopping center instead of going straight toward the school. It doesn’t take too long for me to realize my error, laugh at my absentmindedness, and, as Siri would say, recalculate my directions. At that point, I have the choice of a longer route or a u-turn to get back to the one I intended to take in the first place. We get to school, on time every day so far, but I’m hoping for a new groove to be formed so we can get there more directly… every time.

This whole concept just got real for me. The past several years have been spent learning who God is and who He says I am, truths based on His Word rather than on the past experiences that previously dictated my identity. For instance, despite the fact that I was in a loving family, I had this orphan mentality that I was on my own and had to protect myself. It partly resulted from an independent streak I was born with, partly from some hurtful relationships where I should’ve been covered but wasn’t and mostly, I think, from some willfully bad choices I made that rendered me undeserving of God’s help (or so I thought for a really long time).

As I stepped out of rebellion and into a desire to do good, I would start a day/thought/action in the right direction, full of hope that I would get to a new destination that would bring blessing rather than harm. But somewhere along the way, autopilot would take over, leading me down the well-worn roads of fear, anger and self-loathing. Finding myself lost on these roads – again – with no clear sense of where I went wrong or how to get to my destination made me feel utterly powerless and alone. So, once again, I would step into self-protection mode. This looked like guarding my heart by shutting down emotions, putting on a facade of indifference or brazen confidence, using some kind of substance to fill the gaps of inadequacy and immersing myself in some form of distraction to avoid facing the “fact” of my failures.

Over the years, my mind has been transformed by truth. I now know where I’m going and I get there a whole lot of the time. There are still some detours and u-turns along the way but I rarely feel lost and overwhelmed. God has shown me time and time again that He is with me, He is for me and I’m not alone. Nothing I do can disqualify me from His grace and His help because it is based on the unfailing righteousness of Jesus. It was never about my own merit; only my trust. I know this. And yet, last week, he asked me why I was still protecting myself.

Yes, I thought. The pesky old behaviors that plague me are evidence of that. I had never connected them to self-protection but it makes perfect sense. Whenever I’m up against something that I feel unequal to, I shut down and fortify myself. It’s not something I consciously think about. I just go there. It’s such an efficient path that I can complete the task without feeling a single true emotion. Meanwhile, the fear that I won’t have enough or be enough operates in the background, like some app draining the batteries on my phone, so I guard my sleep and my energy like nobody’s business – with caffeine and sleep aids. Sugar and alcohol – in very acceptable amounts – step in for comfort or courage as needed. And of course distraction sets in so I don’t have to go to the places in my mind that will bear difficult information.

The revelation the Lord gave me was so gentle and kind. There was no shame. Just understanding that He is my protector and I can rest in that. My response, which seemed so clearly the right one, was to choose to trust Him for sleep that night. And for every night since. If I didn’t get enough sleep (which I haven’t on some nights), I figured He would give me strength or rest as I need it (and He has). I figured it wasn’t my problem to worry about.

The first few days were amazing. The need for caffeine, sugar and alcohol decreased significantly. Not that I wasn’t tired (I really was), but it didn’t mean what it used to. There were no conclusions of shortcoming or the accompanying fear. Then a day came where all I wanted was coffee and green tea frappuccinos and beer. Nothing had changed that I knew of. It was baffling. When I got quiet and played some worship on the piano, tears came. I was able to recognize some grief about letting go of my grown son, Cole, on a deeper level. Because my automatic response was established to bypass hard emotions, I didn’t even know it was there. By allowing myself to feel the sadness for a few minutes and let the Lord wash over me, my heart was lifted and the cravings evaporated. Subsequent days have shown the same pattern.

Here is the interesting thing. In acknowledging my sadness, joy has been more poignant than ever. In laying down my ability to protect myself, I’m feeling more protected than I’ve ever been. I’m learning to allow my heart to be heard, to meditate on what is good and true, to pay attention to the roads I’m taking and to invite the Lord to help me establish life-giving routes that will become my default. Because I’ve got new places to go and this time, they are places I want to be.



  1. Never. Stop. Writing. You are gifted, and I glean much from your spiritual musings!! xoxox ❤

    • You are so good to me Ruth. I’m forever grateful ❤️

  2. Beautiful Kara! Thanks for your transparency. Love you, Kelly

    • Thank you dear Kelly! Xoxo

  3. Oh Kara…..such open, precious words. Thank you for your transparency. Blessings and love to you!


    • Thank you Pam! Love you too 😘

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