Posted by: karanoel | March 3, 2022

Stepping into freedom

Walking has been my primary form of exercise for a great many years, so it was a no-brainer to incorporate my puppy, Sunny, into my outings when we got her nearly two years ago. Several times a week during that time, we’ve made our 4 mile loop around the hills by our house, bonding, training and expending our energy. I would like to say that she is now perfectly trained and a dream to walk with, but alas no. While she has made strides, she still pulls on the leash to sniff bushes and mark mailboxes, or sometimes plants her feet because she would rather go home and catch frisbees. But that doesn’t mean our time together has been wasted.

A few months ago, instead of taking our normal neighborhood walk, I took Sunny to “dog beach” in Huntington where dogs are not only allowed on the beach, but where they are (at least informally) allowed to be off leash. At that point, I trusted her enough not to run down the beach and never come back (which would not have been true last year), but wasn’t sure how much self-control she would exhibit in this wide open world. To my surprise and delight, when I took her leash off, she clung to the spot immediately by my left leg – exactly where she is trained to be. As we continued our walk and she got comfortable, she ventured a little ways off to greet other dogs and play a bit – which was fine by me (get that energy out, girl!) – but she kept track of where I was and always returned to my side to rejoin me as I kept moving. If she got distracted, she came immediately when I called.

It is hard to describe the joy of this experience. This dog I love with me in my favorite place, with the sun shining down and the waves breaking; walking alongside me not because of a heavy hand on her leash (or because of any leash at all), but because of this sweet relationship we’ve developed and a level of mutual trust. Just heavenly, I tell you. We’ve had the pleasure of returning to dog beach several times now and I think it is safe to say that it is our favorite place to be. And while I certainly wouldn’t yet trust Sunny on a busy street, she remains far better off-leash at the beach than on-leash anywhere else. Which got me thinking about my walk with the Lord and some things He has been showing me lately.

There was a time when I desperately needed a leash – and some training. I had rebelled against pretty much all authority, hated boundaries of any sort and regularly put myself (and sometimes others) in harm’s way, nearly self-destructing in the process. When I was finally desperate and humble enough to submit to God’s authority, He lovingly took me under His wing and began to train me in His ways. We walked together each day, much like I’ve done with Sunny; nothing glamorous and certainly nothing that looked especially impressive. But a sweet relationship was established and trust grew as I came to see and know that God was not depriving me of any good thing… and that He had nothing but my very best at heart. Though I resisted some of the limitations, especially at first, I came to feel so safe with the knowledge that I couldn’t go too far because I would always sense the gentle tug pulling me back where I needed to be. 

The past couple years, I’ve been feeling a shift happening. It’s as if the Lord has driven me to the beach, taken off my leash and told me I was free to run and play. The implication is something like: “I know you trust me… and guess what? I trust you too!” Um great, but what if I don’t trust myself? I don’t think there is anything in life I’ve wanted more than freedom, but it scares me. After all, I didn’t make great choices with the freedom I had before. So honestly, part of me wants to stick to the leash and familiar paths, which feel safe and predictable. And also to the self-created boundaries, systems and formulas I’ve developed to regulate and control various areas of my life.

But control is just fear in disguise, which really isn’t something that benefits me, and God’s training was never meant to be the end-all. It was meant to foster relationship and prepare the way for freedom for me (and each of His kids). Not to run off and do our own thing as we have in the past, but to be in sync with this loving Master who delights in our company as we walk and run and play in this beautiful creation of His. It is heaven to Him to be with us; His absolute favorite place to be. So… if He trusts me enough to give me some space to run, then who am I to deny Him that pleasure? I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂


Responses

  1. This is beautiful Kara! Wonderful to see your beautiful Mom as well! 💕

    • Thank you Kelly! My mom drove me to the beach when my back was giving me too much trouble to drive myself… definitely a wonderful and beautiful mama (just like you)!

  2. Brilliant—again. Way to hit the mark. Biblical—and oh so practical! Love to Dad and Mom! Praying for Kenn to get his book written.

    Paul

    >

    • Thank you, Paul! And extra thanks for your prayers for dad. A book is understandably overwhelming so I am sure he could use them. Hope you and your family are well!

  3. Dear Kara. You are so wise and radiate love and joy. Blessings continue to be with you.💜💜💛💜💛💛

    • I appreciate you! So many blessings to you too. xoxo

  4. “So, if He trusts me enough to give me some space to run, then who am I to deny Him that pleasure?” Yes! Couldn’t help but think of that famous line from ‘Chariots of Fire,’ Kara, “When I run, I can feel His pleasure.” To be who our Creator made us to be and know how it please Him. Seems like a spot on definition of joy.

    • What a great parallel, Mitch! What a beautiful thing to run this race in as way that brings us – and our Creator – such joy.

  5. Oh my goodness, I enjoyed this post SO much! It really brought a lot of my joy to my heart to read it. I can feel our Father’s pleasure in you!

    • Thank you so much Jennifer! That blesses my heart 😍

  6. Also, those walks on the beach sound just so special!


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