Backtracking to the Woods

We had a decision to make: go through or backtrack and find another option.

Because of our disinterest in trudging through winter-cold water, soaking our shoes and socks, and possibly catching pneumonia (says my mom’s voice in my head), we backtracked and hoped for another, better, drier path.

If you are hoping this is an inspirational post about the road before us and persevering and obstacles and keeping on, you are going to be big-time disappointed. Trust me.

So we turned around from the overly spacious puddle and walked down the path we had just walked, turned a different corner^ and began the scenic route only to find an even larger, floodier puddle (a small lake, really) in between us and the next leg of our walk.

We — my mom and I — stood there, pondering. My tummy said it was lunchtime, but the stress-reducing, heart-healing, mind-calming, creativity-inducing, 90-minute walk was stretching longer and longer by the second. We continued to ponder. I saw the messy woods to the left. Somewhere deep, deep, deep inside I knew the woods way was the last, best option. My mom was the one to speak it. “I wonder if we could get through there,” she said, pointing with her eyes. I looked, again. Nothing about the woods had been cleared. Yet, there we were, stepping toward it.

“I wouldn’t be doing this this afternoon,” I said. My mom had already met a snake in the same area the week before (as in the end of February). Truth be told, minus snakes; chiggers; and ticks, I look forward to off-roading adventures. Rumblies in tumblies make it a bit less fun and desirable, though.

Walk slowly we did through the brush and sticks and limbs and vines and other items that were thrilled at the opportunity to whack me in the face. What seemed like a Bear Grylls’ mile later^^, we made it out and were once again on the usual path. “I don’t know how deer run through there like they do,” my mom said. “Close their eyes and go, I guess.” Yep, I agreed. “They just barrel through.”

As we walked the familiar, I began thinking about backtracking and the added minutes and those additional steps, and I wondered what we could skip to make up for it. I considered how we could forget walking to the last bench. But no sooner had the thought been established than it was pushed aside: We weren’t going to walk less. We were going to walk more.


How often do I average the time? Instead of adding, how often do I subtract by skipping? Because I have spent 30 more minutes playing, an hour more talking, five minutes more helping, how often do I say nah to the something that would push me further? I did this, so I don’t have to do that. When did I become average?

I don’t believe the Lord saw my planning and plotting and deciding against the last few steps of the walk as a right vs. wrong decision. Good vs. bad. Should vs. shouldn’t. But I wonder if He cheers us on a little louder now and again when we put aside ourselves, instead choosing the route of more.

I wonder if sometimes the Lord writes adventures and lessons and surprises into the more, knowing how often those extra steps to the finish line are the hardest, mentally and probably physically.

Dear Brave Reader, what would my life look like if I took advantage of opportunities of more? At the end of a day or week or the year, what would the Lord have allowed me to accomplish, to do? How would He have allowed me to make a positive difference, to do something good and honorable? I would like to declare a challenge: Let’s try it.

The next time either of us wishes to substitute the backtracking for the more, let us reconsider and continue going, pushing, making our way forward. It might add up to another 100 steps, sure, or it might have us inspiring someone else to do more, as well.


Julie Johnson
words + photograph

^ Yep, now I have George Michael singing in my head.

^^ It wasn’t a Bear Grylls’ mile or any mile for that matter.

2 responses to “Backtracking to the Woods”

  1. Ok—this is my fave so far this year! Excellent reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just thinking about you the other day when I realized I hadn’t seen any Casey family updates on FB in awhile. Thank you for taking the time to comment!


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