We were in Colorado, and came across a big, “fun” mountain. We were not in the best hiking gear, in fact – both my daughter and I had flip flops on. We didn’t know that the terrain was full of cactus plants until we were about half way up the mountain. The four kids did pretty good going up the first part of the hike. It was fairly flat and grassy. We were all laughing, and racing, and jumping from rock to rock. But then we hit that point in every hike with kids, that gets tough. You know the time when the complaining begins. The tired factor kicks in, and all of the sudden everything is wrong with everything.
Tired, hot, thirsty, legs hurt….just about anything that feels wrong will be vocalized. Because I want my kids to be tough and non-complainers(ha) – I tell them, we are almost there, keep going!!! Even though the mountain still looms in front of us. They get a new sense of energy and enthusiasm, and we trudge on. The oldest looks up, and says – “It doesn’t LOOK like we are close”. I tell her – well, maybe our destination isn’t the very top after all, and maybe we are closer than we think!! There was a clearing up about 15 more feet that I knew if we could just get there, it would feel like we had climbed a mountain to them!
So, with one child on my back, and holding the hand of the other, my husband and I look identical and we look at each other and just smile. It wasn’t as “fun” as it seemed looking at it from the car in the eyes of our kids – but to us, we knew some life lessons were being learned! Keep on, don’t give up, help each other, and be tough even when things aren’t easy… good lessons.
The picture isn’t us, but cool picture!
Once we arrive at our top, we are able to look down and see how far we have come! Everyone is pleased with themselves. Then, we start heading down. We all realize there were a lot more cactus plants than we realized, and soon the ouch factor kicks in! The little ones are being carried, and my son and husband have good hiking shoes on, but here my daughter and I are in our flimsy $1 flip flops! She starts to really break down. My normal tough 8 year old fell apart. At one point, she just stood on a rock and started crying. She said, “mommy, I can’t go anymore. There are pokey plants everywhere!”. At first I just tell her to keep walking – that it will be okay! To watch where she is stepping and to avoid them!
But when that doesn’t work, I soon realize that she doesn’t know what direction to go because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. She doesn’t want to step one more step and get that jab through the flip flop. I sure don’t blame her!! So, I turn around and decide she just needs to know WHERE to step. I tell her to not panic, and instead to just follow directly in my footsteps. That I will walk ahead of her, and she can step where I am stepping.
As soon as I said those words out loud, I immediately thought about FAITH. I pictured myself on that rock in my own life, panicked by whatever tough situation I was facing, crying, and unsure of what steps to take next. Fear of getting hurt, or taking the wrong path, how many times have I just stalled out in life and wanted to quit? How many times have I thrown my hands up in defeat, and said I just don’t know what to do or where to go?
We don’t want to get hurt as humans. We don’t like pain. We typically run from it. However, pain happens. The key is learning how to not keep walking straight into that pain each time. To learn form our past and hopefully avoid painful situations when we have a choice!!
So as I am “leading” my daughter to walk in my footsteps down the cactus filled mountain, I related it to my own life. God is walking in front of me each day. He is giving me the footprints to follow. If and when I will follow those footsteps, He will lead me in a way that brings peace. His ways. But when I walk outside of those footprints, I experience more self-inflicted pain and trials. Now, I don’t believe we can always escape pain, as sometimes the “obstacles” we face are what bring us closer to Him. But, I do believe that more often than not, if we will follow in the path He has laid out for us, we will find that we can experience a life that is defined differently than when we do it on our own. God never walks to fast for us, and He always is walking in a way that leads us closer to Him.
So, even when we can’t see what is ahead of us, we need to TRUST in His ways and His steps and walk in them. A focus this year for me has been to “focus up”. If you are like me, we get easily distracted by the things around us. Whether that be situations at work, home, in our relationships…or just day to day life pings. I call the things that poke at us all day and get to us emotionally – “life pings”. We don’t realize it, but these pings can start to really impact us!! Maybe it is a comment from someone that we keep replaying in our heads, or a post we saw, or a look that we didn’t quite know how to read. Whatever those pings are in our life, tend to distract us from the main focus we should carry daily.
Focusing up requires our trust in HIM to know that where He is leading us is up to Him. That when we step in those footprints He has made, that we can rest in full confidence that He is in charge. He will never lead us astray!
May we all follow, trust, and focus up today – even when we can’t see!
Founder, P31 Fitness