I’ve always been one to seek end results and not enjoy the journey. I want to know exactly where I’m going, how much it’s going to cost, and what I’ll accomplish at the end. How I get there is not as important as long as I’m doing it with integrity. It’s not completely a terrible trait and it makes me a great event planner and detail-orientated worker. Still, I miss out on life by not living in the moment.
This year my husband and I will be visiting at least 10 National Parks. We’re not the most outdoorsy people you’ll ever meet, but we enjoy hiking; me for the exercise and Nate for the views. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the views, but if I’m already going to sweat, I might as well get my heart rate up.
Last week when we were at Zion National Park in Utah we decided to do a hike called Angel’s Landing. It’s 2.5 miles each way but you go up 1,500 feet in elevation, making it strenuous.
The hike starts off uphill, but fairly easy. After about a mile you hit your first set of switchbacks where you go uphill pretty quickly. The next half mile is breezy. Then you get to “Walter’s Wiggles,” a series of 21 switchbacks straight uphill. I had to stop a couple times, but I could really just see the next turn in front of me, so I focused on getting past that turn.
Then things get a little tricky. The last half mile has chains you must use to hold onto as you walk across the edge of the cliff with 1,000-foot drops on either side. At the top of this section, you see a sign saying 16 people have died on this hike. This is after you’ve hiked uphill for two miles and gained 1,000 feet of elevation.
Again, I could just see the little portion in front of me so I went for it. It was challenging, but I got through the first 200 feet of chains which led us to the top of a giant rock. “This is it,” I thought. “I did it!” About a minute later, I realized we weren’t even close to the top. In front of me was another portion of the mountain that went straight up 500 feet. Imagine rock climbing with chains for 500 feet without a harness.
It’s funny because I was fine using the chains to propel myself up when I couldn’t see where I was going, but as soon as I could see that I had to climb 500 feet, I began to doubt myself. My legs were tired and the possibility of falling 1,000 feet off the cliff was haunting my mind. I could see the entire mountain and it was daunting. Yet, I didn’t have those thoughts when I couldn’t see the climb.
And that’s when it hit me that I’m always striving for knowing what’s next in my life, but if I always knew what was next, I might not be able to handle it. I think that’s why God gives us time and limits our ability to see into the future. If we saw all of the obstacles that are in front of us, it would paralyze us with fear. We might think we couldn’t go on. It would be too much. But we can make it up one switchback at a time. We can make it around the next corner to go up the next hill.
I’m learning to live each day and be thankful for the journey. Knowing that I just need to get through one obstacle at a time makes life more enjoyable and less stressful. Besides, isn’t it great to be able to look back and see all you’ve accomplished instead of looking forward to something you know nothing about? So what are you thankful for today? What insurmountable obstacle are you going through that you think you can’t get through?