Last year (or was it two years ago? Now that we’ve entered a new year, I can’t keep my 20-teens straight.) my church read through the Bible chronologically. As we traveled through the desert with the Israelites and watched them make the same mistakes, over and over and over, I wondered if maybe we’re all programmed to repeat history. I wondered if getting stuck in a crazy cycle is inevitable, if it’s possible to avoid the experience of looking at a hard situation and realizing that you’ve been there before, that it’s not as new or surprising as you intitially thought.

Those Old Testament stories and my wondering made me think of Taylor Swift.

Wait! Just stay with me here.

None of it reminded me of her as a person; it reminded me of her song, “Out of the Woods.” The catchiest and most-repeated lyrics ask, “Are we out of the woods yet?” and “Are we in the clear yet?” Over and over, she sings those words, making it clear that though she’s desperate to be finished with this struggle, she isn’t. She’s not out of the woods. She’s not in the clear. Trouble is coming up again in 3…2…1…

The video for this song is like a mini-movie, showing a determined but, again I’d say desperate, Taylor running from wolves, finding herself barefoot on top of a frozen mountain , falling into a deep lake, and crawling through mud in a rainstorm. As she escapes one dangerous situation, she’s immediately thrown into the next one. No time to take a breath, no time to process or regroup, no time to get in the clear.

When I first watched this video, it literally took my breath away. I’d never seen that video, but I knew that story. I’d felt what she’s feeling. I’d wondered those same words she sang.

Have I ever been chased by wolves? Or run barefoot on a mountaintop? Or looked that good in a blue dress? Nope. But have I ever crawled to the end of one race only to be tossed into the middle of another one? Have I ever faced trial after trial after trial until it feels like I’m crawling through mud, like I’m dragging myself through the miry clay? Oh yeah.

What do we do when it feels like we’ll never be out of the woods? Join me at (in)courage to dive into this question.


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