There are crisp mornings when a dense sheet of fog fosters stillness in me. Then it lifts and reveals the day. That kind of fog is okay.
But not the mental kind. Not the emotional kind. Not the kind of fog that hides Hope and Goodness and Progress. Not the kind of fog that keeps me stuck in boredom, bad habits, negative seeing, and spats with the ones I love.
That kind of fog sucks.
And it doesn’t feel like I get to choose when it will go away. I can change my outlook while I stand in the middle of it, but I still have to wait for it to lift.
And I’m a very poor wait-er.
Rather, in my human nature, I’m a do-er.
A “make it happen-er.”
A “let’s get this shit figured out-er.”
A “if you can’t fix this, get out of my way-er.”
But punching and kicking fog is like punching and kicking air.
Fog doesn’t care.
It doesn’t bend to my will. Fog doesn’t apologize and say, “Oh excuse me. I’m sorry. Am I hemming you in?”
So I might as well make fog my friend.
If not my best pal, at least one I can sit still with.
Here’s how I’m learning this-
I recently read the book War Horse with my son. The horse, Joey, narrates his own life and ongoing search to reunite with his boy. They are separated when the boy’s dad sells him to Allied forces during WWI.
Joey tells about his service as battle steed, a cart horse for German casualties, and finally a cannon carrier.
His last captors are killed. Joey follows his flight instinct and runs in any direction that is away from war.
As Joey races through the dense morning fog, unable to see where he is going, his feet become wrapped and trapped. Something slashes and sears his flesh as he fights to get loose.
The harder Joey pulls and rages against the snare, the more deeply he wounds himself. He eventually breaks free, but not without severe backlash and eventually tetanus.
Joey doesn’t know he’s tangled up in barbwire.
I’ve seen a horse tangled in barbwire before. It’s awful.
Its horse nature screams, “Danger!” He feels compelled to get free and run away from entrapment.
But it’s the worst thing the horse can do.
Rather, the horse needs to stand still and trust his rider to cut away the wire.
I need to stand still in the fog and trust my Owner, too.
This week, as I figured and fixed and punched and kicked through fog, I saw myself in Joey.
I didn’t know what was snaring me. And the harder I fought, the more I bled.
So I prayed. And I sensed the calm, soothing voice of Jesus, urging me to be still so he could cut away what was ripping me to shreds.
I suddenly understood the more I raged and ripped against the ties that held me, the more torn and tangled I got.
I realized if I stood still and trusted him, he could cut away the wire- so we could hit the dusty trail together again. No significant backlash or spiritual tetanus necessary.
And it’s been a game changer for me.
I’m no longer punching and kicking air. Well maybe a little bit. But when I start, I’m immediately reminded to stand still, he’s working gently to free me.
And as I stand still, the fog is lifting too.
It’s amazing what a little “cease striving” and trust will do.
If a fog has you hemmed in or you feel wrapped and trapped and bleeding in barbwire, I invite you to stand still. See what freedom might come when you stop working so hard on your own.
Also published on Medium.