2 days, guys. 2 days. That’s it. No, it won’t be my first night on the trail. That’s in 3 days. But it will be my first night of a long stretch away from home. My first night before a full day of hiking. My first night living out of a single backpack. My first night focused on myself, and nothing more.
A lot of things have already started stirring in me, and I haven’t even started yet.
First and foremost, I am totally ok with the fact that I am going to be focusing on myself. Originally, I didn’t want to admit to it, because we’re not “supposed” to be selfish, we are “supposed” to put others before us, and we are not “supposed” to be solely looking out for our personal gain. There is truth to all this, yes. BUT I’m finding it near impossible to truly love others or provide for others when I feel so depleted.
“You can’t give what you don’t have.” Anyone heard that phrase before? I can’t give people money I don’t have; I can’t provide people joy if I don’t feel it; I can’t love on someone if I don’t feel loved. The list goes on…
Needless to say, I think a little self-focus is going to do me some good. Because I want to be able to give of myself, eventually!
I’m thinking of starting small. For example, it would be very typical of me to try and keep up w/ a group of people (or slow down for them, or stop all-together with them) if I enjoyed their company and didn’t want to be alone. But, this time I’m going to listen to my body, hike at my own pace, stop if I want to stop, go if I want to go, and be okay with whoever may or may not be around at the end of each day.
Then I can work up to bigger things. Like asking myself the hard questions I’ve been politely avoiding for the last year. My last post was all about expectations, right? How all of a sudden I realized I was meeting people’s expectations instead of thinking for myself. And now, with that layer exposed, a new layer has started to poke through. I didn’t even know it was there until last Friday when words came vomiting out of my mouth at my usual morning coffee-gathering with my dear friend.
Get the mop ready, because I’m just going to let it come spewing out again…
I am mad. Mad at God, to be exact. Well, maybe not mad at Him directly, but definitely mad about our relationship. I try, and I try, and I try, and I try… I REALLY TRY. Not necessarily to “do good,” but to be obedient. Because that’s what it comes down to, right? He loves me, He knows what’s best for me, so it should be pretty simple to just listen, be obedient, and trust Him. And the more I am able to do that, the more sensitive I will become to His voice, and the more confident I will feel in our relationship. Pray, ask, listen, follow. Not a complicated process. But it can become very complicated when you don’t hear His voice. And I thought I did. I genuinely thought that I did. I was in the word, I studied His character, I sought prayer and support from others that I trusted as confirmation. But if there’s anything that I’ve learned over the course of the last few years it’s that I didn’t hear Him correctly. Because things always come crashing down. There’s no peace. I think I’m on the right track and then it all gets torn away. Did I not do it right? Did I not hear You right? Did I hear you at all? God, I was RUNNING towards You, reaching for You, trusting You were there with open arms… where are You? Because all of a sudden I realize I am completely alone. Your Word says I’m not. And I should believe that I’m not. But are you kidding me? Why should it be this hard? This hard to hear You, this hard to feel Your presence, this hard to have a genuine and trusting relationship with You…? Because I’m tired. And it seems I am always falling short. And I feel miserable… that’s not what You want, right? It’s definitely not what I want. I want something real. Is it wrong that I want something that feels good? I know life isn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies all the time, but does it really have to be rain and sinkholes?! Is there not some solid middle ground to stand on where I just know and trust that You are there with me and I can call Your name and feel peace regardless of what is going on around me? I don’t have a frikin’ clue what I’m going to do if I don’t find You in the woods. Not a clue. Because God, I know You are there. I know it, and I’ll never deny it. But, I need to feel the love. Please make it worth it to keep seeking.
So there’s that.
I think this all still falls under the “first of all,” so I’m going to say “second of all” next.
Second, can we just pause for a second and remember that at this moment I am 26 years old. I have quite a bit of life in front of me. And you know what I noticed? I have a really boring routine. I get up around 8, I have a cup of coffee and watch a little TV, I go to work at the coffee shop or meet a few health clients, I come home, I make dinner, I clean a little, maybe go for a run, then my husband and I watch TV and are in bed by 10, reading a few pages before falling asleep and starting all over again the next day. That’s it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a few hip social engagements in the mix, but for the most part, that’s my life. And I’m not okay with it. I’m in a small town in the middle of nowhere with a nonexistent active community and an even less existent young-adult population. Also, there’s no water.
You know what I would prefer? Water… definitely water! A beach, a lake, I’d even settle for a cool river. But more than that I want adventure! I want to walk into town for a coffee and be surrounded by 18-35 year olds, I want to spend Saturday mornings on the endless footpaths with the local running club, I want to buy fresh local produce all year round, and I do not want to own a TV. I want to feel inspired, motivated, and a part of something. I want to wake up each morning excited to impact the world, and I don’t want a bed time.
Yea, that sounds amazing. Way better than a routine; better than a rut. Did I mention I’m 26? Am I allowed to say “rut,” yet?
If this was anyone else saying this, I know exactly what I’d ask them. “What’s stopping you?” Because I’m a big believer in changing your circumstances if you don’t like them. And I do have the capability to change mine; I know exactly how to do it. But, it’s not just me I have to think about here. I chose to get married at a young age. Before I really knew what I wanted my life to look like. Before I started exploring what excites me and what makes me feel alive. And now I can’t just go galavanting off into the sunset seeking my heart’s desire, because what if it pulls my partner from his own desires? He’s pretty happy here.
This is where fear sets in. Can we find something that meets both our desires? What happens if we can’t? I want him to be happy, I love him, but am I willing to give up my dreams? I say again…God, I don’t have a frikin’ clue what I’m going to do if I don’t find You in the woods.
I’m not sure I have a “third of all.” I think this is enough to chew on, don’t you? I know the trail will change me. It’s a spiritual, emotional, and physical journey that cannot spit me out the other end the same person as when I start, not matter how long I end up out there. Maybe I will find answers, maybe I won’t. But I am trusting the journey. And beyond that, I am trusting that my post-trail life will work out for good. I can’t plan every detail of my life, just like I can’t plan every step of this trail… I just gotta live it. One day, one step, at a time.