With one foot on the state park trail my journey began, not just a physical one but an emotional and spiritual one as well. I knew my goal was to reach the summit, but I realize now, I also began with an unrealistic expectation of what the journey should look like, how it should unfold. However, like so often in life, my journey was much harder than I had anticipated or prepared for.
As the terrain steepened and became hard to navigate, I focused my eyes on the path, calculating each and every step I had to take. Head down; intent on achieving my goal and careful not to stumble, I pressed on. So determined, I barely noticed the familiar voice in my head.
“Keep going.” “You’ve got this.” “You can rest later.”
She is always pressing me. Her voice of expectation. She starts chiming in before I even process what’s going on.
Giving birth at the tender age of seventeen. She was there. “You’ve got this.”
Going through a divorce. She pressed. “Keep going.”
Caretaking and advocating for an ill loved one. She lied. “You can rest later.”
If I’m honest, pressing on really is a whole lot easier. It’s surely less painful than slowing down and allowing myself to feel…feel the doubts, the fears or God forbid, the failures. I would much rather hurdle the next boulder, slide down the next slab of damp granite (on my rear end) AND put Band-Aids on my blistering toes, than pause, turn and face them head on. “Keep moving there is no time.”
As I made my way on the trail, there were others traveling the same path. We exchanged occasional pleasantries but we were all intent on our individual journeys. Some led and others followed. Some were stronger and more experienced. Some threw in the towel and gave up on the harsh terrain. Some headed in the wrong direction and had to turn around to retrace steps already traveled. And few went further reaching higher heights than anyone else, amazing us all. “Don’t you dare stop, keep going or you will be judged.”
The journey hardly ever goes as planned. The camera battery dies and you miss the perfect shot. The wind steals your hat and leaves you unprotected. You must re-climb a hill you thought you’d already conquered, you need a do-over. You slip and scrape your knee…again. You don’t pass your class or get the job you wanted. Often, it feels like you’re going nowhere (fast), treading water or even moving backwards. Life is challenging and more exhausting then you expected. You get distanced from those closest to you; somehow you lose contact, they let you down or disappoint you. “You don’t need anyone, you’re doing just fine on your own”
After a few grueling hours traversing the mountain side, I saw a plateau and assumed I had finally “arrived” but when I lifted my head, I saw that it wasn’t the summit. At least not the summit I’d planned for, it was just a level area of rock along my journey, a place inviting rest. Wait, If this wasn’t the summit (sinking feeling) disappointment already setting in (I was so tired and weary) just how much further did I have to go? I had already started to look around and survey my surroundings, formulate my plan when I felt my knees buckle; not from weakness but from wonder, sheer wonder. In front of me was the most spectacular view of deep blue ocean, for as far as my eyes could see. The waves far below crashed against a rocky shoreline, spraying it’s salty mist against the evergreen forest, that ran right into the waters edge. I had to sit down to take it in (well, and to catch my breath too)! 🙂
Just how many times had I missed out on this perspective because my head was hung and I chose to listen to that unfriendly voice in my head?
In that very moment, I heard a fresh voice. The voice of Truth, deep in my heart where Jesus resides.
One that beckoned: “Press into Me.”
One that implored: “I will give you rest.”
One that promised: “I’ve got you.”