My husband and I are on a vacation in Utah and we thought it would be fun to go hiking with one of my childhood friends and her husband. We picked a hike that we’d done before and had thoroughly enjoyed. So why am I writing about this? It all went fine, right?
We got to the trailhead and all we could see was SNOW. I love snow - it is one of my favorite things. But, I’ve never hiked in snow. When my family lived in Utah, we hiked all the time. I would call myself an intermediate hiker. But this hike was something else.
I wanted to stop before we even started. But, onward we went. The people we passed by kept telling us that it was only snow packed for about a quarter mile and then it was clear.
Boy, oh boy. They were not being their most truthful selves.
Here’s the long and the short of it: this hike was hard. There were a few times on the way to the waterfall (did I mention it was a hike to a waterfall?) that I thought I was going to set up camp on the side of that mountain and stay there. I pushed myself forward. I tried to let go of my fear and keep going, even as my tennis shoes slipped against the steep slope of the mountain.
We found some patches of mud and I felt relieved. Finally! We got through the snow. AND then - we made it to the avalanche area. It was this beautiful meadow outlined with trees when I’d done this hike before. Not now. The tips of the trees were sticking out of the snow and you could see the broken tree stumps from the force of that snow. It was so different than I remembered it.
So we made it to the waterfall, or close enough to it and started to head back. I had zero energy left but I grabbed my walking stick and kept going. My mind was focused on the fact that I had to go through all of that again. We were going to have to walk back through the avalanche area and past the slippery parts that seemed very impassable the first time through.
Spoiler alert: we made it down the mountain. But that final stretch was hard. I slipped a few times and they were hard slips. My butt was aching and I thought I was going down the mountain. BUT I didn’t. Mostly, because my husband is a pro and he was holding my hand the entire time. Even as we had to basically climb down the mountain, with our toes in the snow and our fingers burning from the cold. He directed me and helped me feel secure doing something that I was not happy about.
As I was recovering from the sore muscles the past couple of days, I thought about something. This hike is like life. (Yes, yes. I’m going there)
We plan our lives out, right? Or we try too. We daydream about what would make us happy, what career would be most fulfilling and what kind of spouse would make all our dreams come true. And sometimes, we even get on that path and get some of the things we dream about - and then, things change. We show up somewhere and things are a lot different than we expected.
Think - snow packed hiking trail.
Life isn’t meant to be a walk through the botanical gardens - it gets hard.
It’s difficult at times in order to teach us something.
I’m not sure what I was supposed to be learning on that mountain the other day but I think back to hard periods of my life and what I learned from them. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without slipping on those slippery parts of the mountains in my life.
It’s easy to think, “Why me?!” during those hard times in our lives but try to remember that it isn’t forever. It might be harder than you think you can handle or completely different than the life you had planned for yourself but it’s not forever. I promise there is a waterfall waiting for you at the end. I also know that our Heavenly Father hasn’t forgotten about you or condemned you. He is there and He is watching over you. He knows your strength and knows that you can survive this.
He also places people in our lives to help us in these moments of need. I wouldn’t have made it down that mountain without my husband’s patient words and his hand never leaving mine. Life is meant to be experienced with others. Not just because it’s better than being alone but because we might not be strong enough on our own. There are times we are too tired and need someone else to cheer us on and push us forward.
So whatever the circumstance of the hard thing in your life, remember that Heavenly Father knows that you can make it down that mountain safely.