When you’re hiking at a high elevation (or when you’re over forty, exercise-challenged, and hiking pretty much anywhere ever) you get winded quickly. You have to pace yourself. (Hubs and I do, anyway.)
We hiked several times during our recent vacation and, as we plugged along up the Grand Teton National Park’s breathtaking trails, we stopped occasionally just to catch a breath and look around us before we kept trekking. Just when our knees were starting to burn or thirst started getting to us, we would realize how far we had come! And, as a reward for the climb, we were treated with a vantage point we could never have experienced from anywhere else. It’s the best!
Any time my husband and I get away on a trip like this, or sometimes even on a date night, we try to take an inventory of what is going well and what we need to work on — as individuals, as a couple, as parents, etc. Saying out loud to each other what we are noticing and what God is calling to our attention somehow helps solidify our commitment to keep working on our stuff.
And just to clarify, “working on our stuff” just means we invite Christ into our brokenness and obediently commit to letting Him change us from the inside out. Often we need to talk through an attitude or mindset that is hindering our growth, or sometimes we need to address fears that are paralyzing us, or a host of other things. Also, “working on our stuff” can mean tweaking how we manage our everyday life, such as how to better organize our calendars, deciding if there are obligations we need to remove from our life, setting new financial goals, that kind of stuff.
Progress has been incremental over the years — a slow but steady climb on a very, very long hike. But during our mountain vacation, when we stopped to look back, we realized that (with His great help) we had come farther than we realized. We felt like we had hiked to a new summit in our life and the view was more beautiful than we ever imagined.
Of course, we have many miles ahead of us. We will never stop working on our stuff. But it sure is motivating when we are able to look back and see some progress. Maybe all the hard miles eventually did bring us to a place where we are more overwhelmed with gratitude than we are with our stuff.
Maybe you do this kind of thing a lot. If so, I want to hear how it works for you in the comments! If you don’t, I encourage you to take a few moments to prayerfully consider where you are, what’s going well and what “stuff” needs extra attention. At first you might feel overwhelmed, like there’s too much to even know where to start. I’ve felt that feeling. Or, maybe you are doing the very best you can in every area of life and you don’t know what to work on. God will bring something to mind if you sincerely ask Him.
No matter where you are or how much progress you do or don’t see immediately, believe me when I say that you have everything it takes to finish your journey well and get to a place where you can enjoy the vantage point as never before. Make one “next right decision” after the next and before you know it the view will take your breath away.
The view after a tough trek is made so much better when it didn’t come easily!