Sometimes, when I realize the passing of time, it hits me like a gut punch. That happened this morning when I saw my note from three years ago in my devotional book. I’d commented on attending my cousin’s son’s wake and the weight of that grief, her loss as a mother. How can that be, I thought. Where did those three years go? I remembered back over that time and imagined my cousin going through her dark season of grief, while I’d had my own, and we all experienced the isolation of COVID.
In the process of trying to account for all those months, I found myself evaluating if I used that time wisely. Did I do the things that I should have done, did I honor the priorities in my life? What matters most to me are my relationships and I wonder if my behavior reflected that central value. I also wanted to move forward with the goals of my life– including writing. I reflected back on what I accomplished and judged whether I followed through with steadfast practices to realize my publishing desires.
As I’ve often mentioned, I struggle with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) that didn’t disappear as I grew older. It’s more manageable now, but still present. I see this when I plan my Solo Journeys. While I focus on certain aspects of travel, other areas are overlooked. Sometimes, it feels like a magic trick; I’m looking in one direction, when the action is occurring in another. My imagination is so strong, that I feel if I can see something in my mind’s eye, then that’s the way it is. Later, when I’m on my journey, I’m often surprised at the way things really are, at what I didn’t see or take into account.
Over the past few years, I’ve found a way to counter my ADHD tendencies. I’ve discovered how to let go of some of my worry that I’m missing things due to my inattention to the mundane and hyper-attention to the things that fascinate. It came through a scripture from the Bible that I used to feel a push-back to because of my opposition to a certain word.
I first heard the scripture reference in a Spiritual sung years ago at my church, “Order My Steps” based on Proverbs 16:9 the King James Version (KJV):
“Man makes his plan
God orders his steps.”
I’ve always been a planner, looking ahead whether it’s been in my career, family life, or future travel. Reading this verse, I see that as humans our tendency is to plan–which is a form of trying to control life. Yet God is the one ultimately in control. While I see the folly in thinking I’m in charge, I don’t like being ordered— never have.
This goes back to childhood. In the middle of three daughters, when my older sister bossed me, ordered me, I immediately resisted. Who was she to tell me what to do? It wasn’t just my older sister; I saw the same tendency with my older son bossing his younger brother.
As I’ve considered this Bible verse, I step back and see that God, my Heavenly Father, is not like a bossy sibling. A good father loves his children and orders them to help them along their best path. When I read the New International Version (NIV) of Proverbs 16:9, I consider the meaning without hearing that prickly word:
“In their hearts humans plan their course
but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Now, back to how this verse helps me with my ADHD.
I’ve discovered that when I start my day, praying that God will be with me, I lay out my plans, and then acknowledge, “Lord, order my steps.” I want to use my day wisely, my precious time that will pass quickly from moments to months to years. I don’t want to miss the right things by looking in the wrong direction. I don’t want to look back and regret how I’ve spent my time. If God establishes my steps each day, then when I look back, I can remember that and feel I’ve done the best I could do; I won’t miss things.
When I was in Doolin, Ireland on my Solo Journey, my favorite walk was by the Atlantic Ocean–part of the Wild Atlantic Way. I had to pay close attention to the path because of walking by the cliffs.
While my plan was to walk the path without incident, without being distracted and falling to my death (a bit of hyperbole!), I did rely on God’s protection and ordering my steps.
That walk was successful and it was a relief to feel those established steps. It’s that way in daily life when I make my plans and then ask God to order my steps, guarding me from mis-steps. Then I don’t look back and second guess how I spent my time. I’ll remember that I’d prayed that morning prayer and trusted the Spirit of God leading me to take each step on that day’s path.
I hope that whatever path you’re walking today, that you’ll trust God to order your steps. I hope you’ll know the peace that comes when your way feels certain, your journey established and moving in the right direction for this brief amount of time we have on Earth.
Blessings to you all,
You might like to listen to “Order My Steps” on YouTube. Two versions I enjoyed:
Maiya Sykes, former backup singer for Macy Gray (Oct 5, 2016)
GMWA Women of Worship. (I listened to this through Amazon music on my smart speaker. Loved the way the voices of the gospel choir swell!)