Taking Flight

Leaving Egypt: Freedom + Closed Doors

When I would hear the saying “when God closes a door, He opens a window” or some variation of God closing and opening some way of passing through into some other place, one image always came to mind.

I imagined a long hallway that seemed to go on forever. There was no end to this hallway. Not only was there no end, but it was small, the ceiling low hanging, maybe not even 8 feet tall and so narrow that two people couldn’t even walk side-by-side. The only light in this cramped hallway came from your standard light bulbs – emitting hardly enough light to see by as they hung naked from the fixtures above. There were no windows, no natural light. Only the dim, exposed orbs floating overhead. But there were doors. There were lots of doors, one right after the other as far as the eye could see in this infinitesimal yet infinite passageway spaced evenly apart, maybe every three feet or so, all looking the same – your standard wood door with your standard brass knob. Nothing to distinguish one from the other. Some are completely locked as if there were a deadbolt on the other side and the knob is locked, too. It doesn’t turn, doesn’t give at all. Some the knob turns, but when you push, there’s nothing. And then there are some that are a complete tease. The knob turns, it opens. And you get excited because finally there is a way out of that dingy, creepy hallway that never ends and seems to have no way out at all. You just want a little bit of sunlight, a little bit of something different, something good. All in one instance you push forward, you see that light you’ve been longing to see, and…

There’s a chain on the other side of the door that holds tight. What happened to knock and it shall be opened? You thought it was your turn. You were certain this was your door. The door you had prayed about. The door you had pleaded with God to open because all you want is a little bit of sunshine, even a small window to look out of would do.

If this image doesn’t scare you, if it doesn’t terrify you just a little bit and make you feel so small that a part of you feels like you want to curl up in a ball, it should. This should make you feel small and incapable and completely overwhelmed at this whole knocking on doors nonsense. It sure does me. In general, I don’t like small spaces and I’ve come to realize I’m not a huge fan of the indoors. I don’t like feeling closed off and isolated and I don’t like not being able to see a way out.

If this is the image you have of this saying we so often throw around, if you have the same image that I once had, then there are three things.

One, God has more than just a prison-sized peephole for us to look forward to. He set us free from slavery and He didn’t intend for us to go back. All too often we’re willing to go back to a form of slavery because it’s easier, it’s immediate, but it’s also misleading. The prison always gives the illusion of greener grass, but we’re not really free. We’re surviving, not thriving as Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan write in Wild and Free. But Christ bought our freedom and he intended for us to thrive.

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Two, I’ve learned that life isn’t the infinite hallway with no light, no hope. It’s the road out of Egypt.

Right now, there’s a door you’re trying to find and you’re seeking with all your might, both eyes wide open, but it’s desert or prairie – or whatever terrain is the best metaphor – for miles and miles. An oasis or natural spring would be nice about now. A village just over the horizon would be even better.

Right now, there’s a door you’re waiting to be opened. You might even be trespassing a smidgen trying to peek in through the windows and going around back to see if anyone’s home.

For now, be patient.

The village will come soon enough. Enjoy the journey even though it’s hard. Your throat is parched, but there’s Living Water for that. You’re starving. That’s good. It means you have an appetite for goodness. Stay hungry just a little longer.

The door will open when the time is right, but in the mean time take in the beauty around you. There are things that need to be done outside of that door, people who could use you and who you could learn a thing or two from. The whole world isn’t on the other side of that door; instead, there’s a whole world outside that door just waiting for you to explore it.

And three, because life isn’t a cramped and creepy hallway, there’s room for company. You aren’t alone. You are not the only one waiting, wandering, knocking and wondering.

(photo by Kathryn Patterson Photography)

(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on June 24, 2016.)

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Taking Flight

5 Must-Dos For Exploring the Wichita Mountains

I am so excited for this week! And why you may ask??? I’m going hiking in the Wichita Mountains! The Wichitas are one of Oklahoma’s best kept secrets for a number of reasons…the scenery, the wildlife, and the food. This small cluster of “mountains” that really look like ginormous piles of rocks can make the perfect day trip. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to hiking and there are actually a lot of sites to see while you’re there. So here are a few must-sees and must-dos of the Wichita Mountains!

    1. Mt. Scott: The big thing you should always do when you go to the Wichitas is Mt. Scott. It’s the tallest in the Wichitas at 2,464 feet elevation and the view is breathtaking!

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    2. Jed Johnson Tower: An easy hike but make sure you have a map of the state park and that you use the trail. I wouldn’t recommend that you try to blaze your own trail and I say that based on personal experience. Last time I went, my friend Kathryn and I thought we would be cool kids and do just that. It turns out that “as the crow flies” is VERY deceiving. (That’s the Tower behind us!)

    3. Elk Mountain: This is still a fairly easy hike but definitely more challenging than to Jed Johnson Tower. It’s at a steeper incline, and (if I am remembering correctly) it takes about 40-45 minutes to get to the top if you’re pacing yourself…and definitely pace yourself. The first time I climbed Elk Mountain (which was my first time I visited the Wichitas) I was actually working out regularly and I still got winded.
    4. Holy City: I include this one with some reluctance because if I’m being quite honest, the Holy City is kind of creepy. It’s an interesting site to see, but I felt like I was about to become a part of a real life reenactment of a Criminal Minds episode. Oh, and the Moses room…yeah just don’t. So creepy…
    5. Meers Burgers: Finish your trip the right way and get the best burger you will ever eat at Meers. It’s a hole in the wall kind of place and you will probably have to wait a good hour until your just seated, but definitely go because of this…

      …and for this…

    ….but also this.

     

    These are just a few of the sites I’ve seen at the Wichitas and I hope if you get the chance to go, that you enjoy it as much as I do. Though these are some things I personally have done, there are still a lot of things I want to see and do there such as the Rock Rooms and a trail that leads to a cave!

    So that’s all for now! Stay adventurous!

     

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    Taking Flight

    #DoHardThings

    A few months ago, my friend Kathryn encouraged me in this journey to take flight. She probably didn’t know it at the time, but she told me a simple phrase that has stuck with me whenever I think I can’t, whenever I think something is too scary, whenever I think something is beyond my ability.

    Do hard things.

    Three words. That’s all it is, but it’s a phrase the really caught on for both of us, and I’d like to think that God used Kathryn and this simple phrase to help us both grow in new ways.

    Growing up, I was a shy child. Hard to believe, right? Okay, maybe not.

    When I was little, people would come up to me at church to say hello and I would quickly hide behind my mom or dad. I was that kid who was scared of falling, scared of heights, and scared of getting hurt long before I even broke my ankle at the age of six. I was so timid and so cautious that it was almost dangerous. I had my shell. I had my comfort zone, and I liked it there.

    I never thought I would ever become adventurous in any capacity of the word…but I did.

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    On Monday, Kathryn and I went hiking in the Wichita Mountains in Southwestern Oklahoma. No, Oklahoma is not completely flat. Yes, Oklahoma has mountains…sort of. Any who, since we didn’t have classes because of the holiday, we took off to the mountains because we just couldn’t wait until January for a trip to the mountains. So we hiked, we bouldered, we got a little lost because we didn’t get a map first (I would not recommend especially for long hiking trips). And looking back I would have never have done five or more years ago what I did Monday.

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    I did hard things. In recent years, I’ve challenged myself to go out of my comfort zone. I’ve pushed myself to talk to that person or to go to knew heights or try something new. My senior year of high school I learned how to play golf, a sport I never thought I would play (seriously, that is). My freshman year of college I tried sushi and hiked the Wichitas for the first time. My sophomore year I went kayaking for the first time. This past May I traveled to a new country and continent.

    I still have a ways to go, but I think the phrase “do hard things” has caught on so well that other people have taken notice. Just the other day at work, the other intern said she could see me taking a year after college to travel the world. “You’re just so adventurous!” she said.

    All I could say was, “Why thank you! I try!”

    So, take flight and do hard things. Climb a mountain. Hike for a week, a month, three months. Learn a new skill that terrifies you. Train for a race. Explore a new city, state, or country. Interview for that dream job you really want. Leave that job you actually hate. Break off that relationship and learn to be an independent, solo amigo, single for a year. Guys, boys, men…how ever you see yourself…ask that girl out!!!! Girls, ladies, women…learn to say no and raise your standards!!!

    Find what is hardest for you to do and do it!

    (Photo credit: feature photo, Kathryn Patterson. Check out her Facebook page!)

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