The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 8: Walk it Out
Hi friends, today I’d like to tell you a story about my pup, Bailey, and a walk we recently took together. Bailey was not raised Catholic so far as I know, but as you listen, I hope you will find yourself and God somewhere in this story, so here it goes.
My 23-pound rescue dog Bailey is such a sweet pup. I love her with all my heart, but to be honest, walks with her have been a bit challenging lately. When she came to us at around age 1 ½, she had already been through quite a lot. Bailey had had a litter for sure, but we don’t know much more about her history besides the fact that she made her way to us from Arkansas through New Hampshire to our home in Massachusetts. Six years later, Bailey is loving and sweet with us and she gets along with most people very well but she’s still pretty nervous around other dogs and we really don’t know why.
There are a few dogs in the neighborhood who make Bailey particularly nervous these days and sometimes on a walk she’ll suddenly stop in her tracks, without another dog in sight so far as I can see, but still absolutely refusing to go anywhere where she believes these dogs might be. And I never want to make Bailey afraid, so I’ll adjust my route to work around those perceived dangers. But lately she’s stopping a lot. At times she seems paralyzed with fear and she’s leaving me with fewer and fewer options about which way to go. And because walking is not an optional activity for a dog, recently I tried a new approach when I saw Bailey digging in her heels.
I stopped, bent down low, pet her little head and quietly said Bailey, I know you’re scared but you’re not alone. We’re friends! I’m with you and I’m never going to leave you, so can we just keep going please? I promise you can trust me. This is my neighborhood, we’re on the right track, and I know this is the best way home.”
And I know that’s so weird to reason with a dog in the street, but to her credit, Bailey believed me. She popped up and she started walking, letting me lead her a few steps ahead.
As we rounded her most feared corner, I kept talking to Bailey to keep her calm and moving forward. I told her how brave she was, how proud I was of her, how we were doing it, how we were almost home. And all the while, I noticed Bailey continued to scan for danger, but I kept talking and Bailey kept walking. When we were in sight of our house, I told Bailey she was such a good girl and that we did it, that we were home! Bailey ran up the driveway, and as I watched her, I found myself standing there with tears in my eyes.
Because I’ve been there. I get it.
Like Bailey, I have an anxious disposition. In part, I was born this way – there is a medical record of me at eighteen months where the pediatrician described me in writing as ‘severely anxious’ and that was in the 70s when people were really not talking about mental or emotional health like, at all, so that’s really saying something don’t you think? Anxious responses do not serve me these days, so I am working hard on this tendency, but when I’m in this mode, I find I mostly scan the future, mine and that of people I love, and I’ll work hard to avoid anything which may cause trouble or pain and this fear can be limiting, to say the least. I wonder if you can relate to that today. Well, Like Bailey, I have been paralyzed by this fear at times, not knowing in which direction to step next. And just as for my pup, not moving forward in life, well, that is just not an option.
Occasionally in these moments in my life, thankfully, I have found God stooping down and getting on my level and doing just what I did for Bailey. God knows what I need, and He calls me by my name. He tells me I’m not alone, that we’ll walk through the scary bit together, and that He’ll never leave me. He tells me that He knows exactly where we’re headed and that I can trust Him. And so long as I can attune more to His voice than to what’s around me, I’ll keep walking, and I do, even with slow or small steps at times. And one day, we will get to the very end of our walk together and I’ll know I’m almost home. God will tell me I’m good and we’ll celebrate our accomplishment together and I’ll know I never could have gotten there without Him. I hope I’ll run right up the driveway toward home.
Well, what does this story about my loveably anxious pup and her loveably anxious person have to do with you today, my Raised Catholic friend?
Well, it’s on my heart to share this story with you today because I hope we can begin to see our faith lives in a more holistic way through the lens of a walk or a journey, the kind we don’t ever take alone, a walk that might lead us places that scare us or thrill us, depending on the day or the season. A kind of walk where we learn to attune our ears to the encouraging and kind voice of our ever-present companion, Jesus. It’s a journey with twists and turns that we don’t always expect but which is always bringing us one step closer to home.
If you were born and raised Catholic, this kind of holistic view is likely not the lens you were given as your faith was formed. Maybe what you received was more linear, like do this and get that, like, do the good works and go to mass and get Heaven in the end. But, when we can start to view our lives as more curvy lines than straight ones, much more a labyrinth than a highway, more a game of Chutes and Ladders than say, Monopoly, then we can begin to experience life as the singular adventure that God had planned for us all along, no one’s experience quite like yours, not one journey the same. And we can talk all about it when we get home. Oh, friend, won’t that be wonderful? I can’t wait.
Today, I have resources with links for you in today’s show notes that might help you to view your one beautiful life with the particular frame of a walk or a journey. There you’ll find books, podcasts, songs and more and I hope they’re helpful for you. And if you’d like to engage with me on this topic, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. And thanks so much to those who are sharing, rating, reviewing, and subscribing to this podcast. It really makes a difference to get the message out and I personally really appreciate your help, so thank you.
Okay friend, let’s pray together. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit amen. Oh God, we’re walking out this life, step by step. Some days, we feel the wind at our back and other days it feels more like a climb, some days are dark and sometimes we find buckets of light at our feet but help us in each day to remember that You’re walking with us and that You know exactly where we’re heading and the reason for each detour along our way. Help us to walk with each other on this road of faith and God, please bless our dear ones as they walk their own good roads, too. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus, amen.
Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.