Unfortunately, I’ve still not found the camera following our house move, so today is going to be word-full Wednesday rather than wordless Wednesday…

This morning as I was walking to work, I made the decision to take a slightly different route and take in some riverside views. I had seen in the distance a footbridge over the river and assumed that the path alluringly named ‘riverside walk’ would lead to that bridge, where I could cross the river and join the road. Not ever having done that walk before, I did not realise how wrong I was and merrily tripped down some quaint, much-worn steps to the path. It wasn’t far to the bridge and part of the way there I saw some steps going back up the bank that I had just come down. Scorning those steps and thinking that they would be leading me in the opposite direction to that in which I wanted to go, I pressed on with the riverside path. And then, as I approached the footbridge, high above me, I started to get a bad feeling. I realised that there was no path and no quaint, much-worn steps up to the bridge. I was debating turning back when I spied a path through the undergrowth up the bank. It was very clearly a path and it clearly went up to the bridge – probably worn in place by many people in a similar situation to the one in which I found myself.

The bank was very muddy but I decided to go for it. Everything went smoothly until about half way up the bank when the apparently steep-but-manageable gradient turned nasty and I slipped on some mud. My scarf scraped the ground but I appeared otherwise unmuddied and still in a suitable state for work. For a few more steps things went well, and then I slipped again. By that point, turning back may have been as disastrous as going forward, so I decided to press on, and with a combination of frantically holding on a tree trunk whilst manoeuvring myself forward past the tree, desperately clutching at what I thought were roots on the ground (some of which sadly turned out to be loose sticks), and climbing on both hands and feet, I made it to the top of the bank. As I stood on the edge of the bridge inspecting the muddy damage (which thankfully and I don’t know how) seemed to be limited to a very muddy white scarf, my coat sleeves and my tights (I don’t know how, but the mud dirtied my tights half way up my right thigh, whilst my knee-length skirt remained clean) and trying feebly to wipe myself clean with water from my water bottle, a nice lady walked passed and asked if I was okay. I made light of the situation and proceeded to finish my walk to work, trying to check my reflection in parked car windows along the way to see if my face had managed to remain as clean as my work clothes appeared to have (which thankfully it did).

Sometimes, life feels a lot like my struggle up that hill – desperately trying to move forward, slipping and doubting whether we’re doing the right thing. I’ve felt a lot like I’m struggling up a hill in the last couple of weeks – a bad PhD viva experience, trying to get to grips with minor corrections for my PhD, and the offer of a job (which is good!) that means letting go of some of my hopes and dreams about what I want for a career and leaving them with God – perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently (which is hard). I’m learning lots of lessons, which are not always easy to learn, but God is faithful.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” (Psalm 28:7, RSV).

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