I'm not a huge fan of doing things by myself. I almost always would prefer the company of a friend over the experience of solitude or independence. However, this year...and this summer especially...I have begun to see the beauty and value in time spent doing things on my own. But that's another story...
I felt really good for the first fifteen minutes. :-) There is this strange competitiveness that resides within me that I sometimes deny. However it wasn't long before it kicked in and I felt the need to pass the boy and man ahead of me. After all, I couldn't let a child and an old man beat me to the top! (Because apparently it was a race). I continued on and was feeling good about my pace, despite the fact that fatigue was beginning to set in. I thought to myself "keep going! You are doing great! You've probably gone about three miles already!" It was at this point that I came to my first mile marker. Mile 1.5. What? 1.5. What? 1.5.
Funny thing about mile markers. It doesn't really matter how many times you look at them...or how hard you wish them to change. They say what they say.
I hoped perhaps it was telling me that I had already gone 2.5 miles and I only had 1.5 miles left to hike! However I knew deep down that wasn't the case. But it didn't matter. I had made up my mind that today was the day to hike this mountain and I continued on. My legs were starting to burn and I continued to grow tired. I wondered how much farther it was to the top but each time my mind wandered to thoughts of distance or pain or fatigue, I just had to remind myself that I had a goal..a vision...an end in mind. And I wasn't going to stop until I reached it. Was there pain? Yes. Was I tired? Absolutely. Did I stop and turn around because it was just too difficult and I felt incapable of making it to the top? Nah.
It was somewhere between mile 3 and my calves exploding that it finally made sense. As weird as it may be, I randomly see things that happen in my life as analogies for life, God, and faith. And thankfully, on that cool Tuesday morning, my weirdness did not fail me. We are all climbing mountains of sorts. Some of us are standing on ground that is leveled. We are enjoying the view and praising God for the beauty that surrounds us. Some of us are hurting. The journey has left us sore, blistered, and bruised. And still others of us are just plain tired. It feels like we are constantly climbing uphill and we are running out of air. There must be an end somewhere but at this point the only thing one craves is rest.
By the time I made it to the top, I was tired, hungry and blistered. But I made it. And as I was standing on top of my goal this conversation played through my mind. It was a conversation I have had many times throughout my life...however, it was not until this day that end became clear.
God, I'm tired.
Maybe I should rest. Maybe I should turn around and try it another day.
God it hurts.
I know. Pain produces strength.
It hurts too much. I need to stop.
How much farther?
Elizabeth, do you trust me?
...what?...yes...I think so...
Elizabeth, do you trust me?
...sure...i mean, yeah...but how much farther?
Elizabeth, do you trust me? Do you believe I am good? Do you believe I have a plan?
Than does it really matter?
Rarely do I feel like God speaks directly to me but there was something about this day-this hike-this lesson that I honestly believe was from God. Two days later I would find out that the person I love and respect more than anyone in this world is sick and will need to undergo an intense and difficult treatment. Pain. Deep pain. I would think back on all of the occurances over the last year...make it the last three years... and wonder why. Fatigue. Deep fatigue. The image of continuing on the journey, up the hill, toward the goal, came to mind multiple times as I wallowed in my anger and confusion. I still do not understand. I expect I won't. "How much farther God? How much more pain? I'm tired!" But I'm trying to trust...I'm learning to trust.
Forgive me for the times I've rested too long or sought healing for my wounds in the wrong places. Forgive me for the times still ahead of me when I'll want to turn around and run in the opposite direction. I'm tired. I'm scared and I'm hurting and I'm tired. But I trust in you. Take my hand, God. I think I'm ready to continue walking...