Direct my steps

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked about packing and unpacking, moving and relocating in the past few weeks. Nor can I count the bruises acquired from the boxes I’ve lifted, manipulated, and shoved around after stuffing them to capacity (and then some). 

I’ve been particularly whiny over the course of these past couple of days as I have prepared to do it yet again. By the time you read this column I will have already moved into Brown University for my summer practicum and will have grumbled about it countless times. Though I have stayed relatively close to home for the majority of my life, the past few years have been filled with moves. To and from the Maryland and Virginia areas I’ve gone down, then back up, down again, and now back up as this summer I make my return to the northeast before traveling back to the south for the second year of my program. 

The driving back and forth between states is a trip in and of itself; the loading and unloading of my car an animal all its own. However, on top of that I’m moving within Harrisonburg itself. Before moving back up to Massachusetts I was tasked with moving from my current living situation in Virginia into the house I’ll be living in come the fall semester. With the majority of my cohort already departed for their respective internships, I finally packed up the car and loaded and unloaded all of what we accrue in our lives into the basement, my room, the spare room, and what felt like everywhere in between. 

After doing that — the first phase of my first major move — on my own, imagine my feelings of dismay when I pulled into a parking spot across from my summer residence at Brown only to come to the full understanding that my car was filled with more than what two hands could carry in one, two, even three healthy trips. After approximately seven treks back and forth from the fourth floor to my car, I couldn’t help but think two unique thoughts simultaneously. One, I don’t want to move by myself again and two, how proud my dad would be if he saw me doing this all on my own. I was in conflict, as I proudly climbed the stairs on my final trip but still filled with longing that someone could see what I’d accomplished.

Reflecting on this now and in the context of a bigger picture, I have not been alone in these past three weeks. Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” So often we see only the narrow tunnel of the reality we’ve created for ourselves. We set ourselves on our course, charging ahead, and then find ourselves mixed with emotions as we face the challenges along the way by ourselves.

We pout about the struggle and proudly take all the credit as a way to compensate for how alone we may have felt throughout the process. The truth though, is that if we didn’t have Christ behind us, in our hearts, willing us forward, we would have accomplished nothing at all. We can’t take all of the credit, because our steps are directed by someone other than ourselves. If it’s Christ Who’s with us and for us, who then can be against us? We are simply tasked with remembering two things. First, we are not alone, He is always with us. When we are lonely, frustrated that we’re doing something without the tangible support of others in that very moment, that the intangible hand of Christ is on our shoulder, wiping our brow. Second, we must remember to give thanks for that intangible presence in our lives. 

Though we can’t see Him, He is with us and we’d be remiss to not recognize and appreciate where our strength is coming from. So while at times the number of stairs climbed with boxes in hand and the bruises from said boxes may have seemed equally as countless, I was never climbing alone, nor were my bruises not healed by the touch of Christ. 

I leave you with a challenge: entrust that whatever you experience, whatever challenge you face, you’re not alone in that, for He Who is directing your steps is He Who charted the course before you even planned it for yourself.

Anchor columnist Renee Bernier graduated from Stonehill College and is a graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at James Madison University in Harrison, Va.

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