As I crossed the finish line of my 1,000 Miles Challenge — a full six months later than I planned for it to take — I tried to smile, to be happy about my accomplishment, but the truth is, I was just heavy. Weighed down from loss that had just hit our own family, along with a year and a half of carrying hard stories, I just wanted to be done.
For 18 months, I walked in the name of a victim or survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, or other types of abusive situations. Each time I set out, I carried someone’s pain with me. I imagined that I held hands with the person, that we walked and talked out their heartache, and I talked with God, begging for peace or safety or healing or love.
Can I be honest with you? I kind of thought this challenge was going to be easy. I thought it couldn’t be that hard to walk a couple of miles every day. But it was rarely ever the physical part of the journey that was difficult. Instead, it was the constant weight of sadness.
During this year and a half, I became the go-to person for those who finally needed to share about their pain. Several people reached out to me to ask for help with current situations, to answer questions, to just be a shoulder. And still others were ready to share their secrets because I had shared mine. It’s a beautiful burden to be that person. I love that I am a safe place to land but it’s hard to balance all the pain and still keep on feeling hope in what too often feels like a broken world.
I’ve walked a few times since the challenge itself ended because I know the battle isn’t over and because I have loved that special time in conversation with God. But honestly, it’s hard to say, “I will willingly continue to pick up these hard, hard stories and walk and cry and sleep with them.” Yet, I know that’s the season I’m in, that I’ve been given the strength right now for a cause with many more victims than victors. I know that is where God calls me to be right now, even when I find myself kicking and screaming that I don’t want to anymore.
But first, a friend suggested I rest, and I thought I would, and then I decided I would not, but then God reminded me that being on the battlefield does require a period of rest in order that I don’t give up. Because I honestly feel His next set of marching orders will require more strength and courage than I ever thought I had. First He called me to walk, to ease my way from a mile to two and then on sometimes to five and eight. It was never about the mileage, of course, but about what He was teaching me about my calling.
Sadly, abuse and violence didn’t just end the day I finished walking the miles. If anything, I learned that I had barely scratched the surface of this journey. As I pray and listen for what’s next, I know I am now ready to run. And some days, I will need to run right into the arms of Jesus so He can hold me through my own pain, for when the days are the hardest and the stories their heaviest. As I sit here in the midst of change and the unknowable future, I do know that I will keep walking with God, praying through the miles of this life, and answering the call to serve.
Latest posts by Angela Giles Klocke (see all)
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