Guest Post: A Single Step

by Marie

I think we’ve all heard the proverb—A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. As an avid hiker, it’s one of my favorites. As a human stumbling my way through a faith transition, it’s a perfect analogy.

When I was a Primary kid I learned all about the straight and narrow path. It was supposed to be a safe space, free from the chaos and dangers of the world. At 21, two months before I was supposed to report to the MTC, I was endowed. The peace and safety of the straight and narrow path I was on suddenly seemed more like a front for something menacing. For the first time I found myself really wondering where this path was taking me.

Why was my eternal potential as a woman limited to becoming a Queen and priestess to my husband?

It was a question that curled, taut, at the back of my brain for 18 months and struck with the slightest provocation. District leader making snide remarks about uppity women wanting to be bishops? Crack. Area full of females desperately in need of a branch, but no males to provide the leadership? Crack. Ward mission leader telling me to just go back to my area and let the Elders handle all the planning? Crack. Realizing that in order to have a voice in anything at all I’d have to scream until I choked in the blood dripping from my own raw throat? Crack. Each wound leached poison into my soul. Perhaps this is the plan that my oh-so-loving Father in Heaven had put in place: I was to help a faceless husband metamorphize into a glorious a creator of worlds and then be shunted to the sidelines—silent, aching, and ignored.

Through all this I continued on that straight and narrow path, pulled forward in the rush of bodies around me. “Come with us,” they cried, “It will be magnificent!” I couldn’t help but notice that the ground beneath my feet was stale in contrast to the verdant undergrowth off to the side of the path. I wondered if anyone else saw what I saw. I wondered if they all knew where they were going.

Why was my eternal potential as a woman limited to becoming a Queen and priestess to my husband?

One could say that this question became my first step in a journey of a thousand miles that has led me from the straight and narrow. I’ve bushwhacked through dreary forests at twilight, forded ice-choked mountain streams, and stumbled through fog so dense that at times I could barely draw a breath. My knees are scarred and my clothes shredded. But muscles that were soft from the ease of the path are now strong and I’ve learned to navigate by the light I see around me.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But what happens to that journey when things change and that first step is rendered meaningless, a reaction to a phantom from the past? Were all my wanderings a hapless mistake? Is the vista undulating before me any less beautiful? The lessons I’ve learned any less important? The person I’ve become any less Christlike?

Behind me in the distance from where I’m perched I can still see the well-worn path, my friends and family faithfully plodding along, eyes focused on the ground.

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2 Responses

  1. Ari says:

    I love this. I’m going to save this as a reminder of the adventure before me as I, too, leave the road more traveled by. Thank you!

  2. LMA says:

    This is so beautiful and powerful. I have always loved Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” I love the line where he says “I took the one less traveled by,
    and that has made all the difference.” It is so powerful and brave to take a path that is more delicate and difficult and messy, especially when it’s just you doing it. Thank you for sharing your courage and power. Sending so much love and thanks.

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