Throughout our lives our gaits and attitudes change in many ways. From a happy baby hanging on to a piece of furniture to get to another to some elderly people grateful to be on their feet pushing a walker ahead of them, life brings a wide variety of ways to maneuver and feelings that go with it.
A toddler is unsteady, yet proud. He has finally achieved what he sees everyone else doing. My oldest son, at eleven months, was so proud when he was walking legs spread wide apart for balance and then so frustrated when he would fall, he would bite the rug! That was a sight to see.
As a young child practices, his walk becomes more regular in timing and space covered by each step. His confidence grows.
THE EARLY YEARS
With walking mastered, running, skipping, and hopping come next. Racing others is an encouragement to improve one’s skills and there is nothing that makes one feel better than being admired as an outstanding runner. You’re the first chosen for the team no matter what sport.
Skipping is a bit more complicated. Some start off in the horse position - bringing the back leg up to meet the front leg and then stepping off again. Some do a step and then a hop and another step. Finally it all comes together and off go some happy kids laughing and having a great time.
Hopping comes in a wide variety as well. There’s left foot, right foot, and both feet. Hopping is an essential skill to jump rope, a really fantastic achievement for coordination.
Early teenagers sometimes stumble awkwardly over apparently nothing. It’s the stage where one hasn’t grown into the size of their feet yet.
A young woman learning to walk in heels is like a toddler all over again! The man who invented these high heels did a great disservice to women. The sexy look is admired and delighted in when one is under forty, but their ears and eyes are closed to the truth that’s probably coming down the walk twenty years later!
A pregnant woman waddles near the time her baby is due. Just trying to maintain balance can be a trick. Attitudes with this walk is when will this baby come!
Men participating in sports put up with back pain, injured ankles and feet, and sprained knees to be macho, a real male. They, too, are blinded to the folly of their behavior. Years down the road, knees and hips change and ankle injuries cause more injury to feet so the macho walk becomes the old man shuffle with fusions and replacements of body parts.
Emotions have a lot to do with our walking speed and, quite possibly, that speed affects our stride. There’s the shuffler scuffing his shoes in short bursts barely lifting them off the ground. His whole body is out of alignment. He looks like he’s either carrying the weight of the world on his slumped shoulders or he’s out of it and hasn’t a care in the world. Fear can set a body in fast motion while love can be a quiet stroll.
Next comes the parade marcher bringing attention to all with the bounce in her step and sway in her hips. She’s a real performer, full of joy, looking to please the world, and expecting the same in return.
The stumbler, caught up in his own world, walks well for a short while and then seems to lose his rhythm as he stumbles over a crack in the sidewalk. Sometimes that stumble brings him rapidly back to earth literally. Been there and done that too many times.
There are other walks related to gaits that show the way people go through life. In our spiritual lives as babies we are so eager to take part in every possible opportunity to learn and express our love, we are temporarily blinded to the bumps and bruises and sometimes move like steamrollers over all around us. There are blessings for us every where we look. We are proud of our new status as a child of the King.
FINDING A FIT
Fairly new Christians kind of breeze through the early years traveling here and there to take in as much as possible from different major leaders, local Bible studies, and sometimes mission trips. During this time, people learn what fits and what doesn’t, and, just as with the high heel shoes, some can’t find the fit they are looking for and drift away.
When gestation is about over, a new walk is forced on the mother. Walking in straight lines and even steps slowly are replaced with a “waddle” - a to and fro sideways, frontward movement. The extra burden places stress in different areas causing an irregular stepping and a slower forward progress.
Young Christians, as they learn more about themselves, find new stresses pulling and tugging in several ways slowing down their forward progress.
As young Christians grow, cracks and bumps in the sidewalks and roads pop up. Some of these “injuries” affect the pattern of walking with the Lord. Most take it as the familiar “one step forward, three steps backward syndrome“. They gather in groups to encourage and share the fun and the sadness some of these trips bring.
As older Christians we have the privilege of walking better in our spirits than very often in our bodies. Our somewhat less than perfect bodies, give us time to rest and a great opportunity to spend more time with God. What ever it is that slows us down - crutches, hurting feet, wheel chair, walker - it is an opportunity to learn more about our Creator, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit so we can rejoice at this time in our lives. We can still be fruit bearers with activities that we have time and the desire to do.
What a blessing! Our God - the maker of our steps, the leader of our walk - all praise, honor, and glory to Him. May Jesus’ name be lifted high.