My legs are still sore from the hike I took to Poo Poo Point (teehee) on Saturday. But every slightly painful step I take today reminds me that these legs carried me all the way through the longest hike I’ve done to date. And that’s pretty incredible.
To be honest, I was terrified to do this hike. The people I was with had all lived in Washington longer than I, and I understood more time in the Northwest to equate to more strength, more endurance…and fewer breaks!
In the days leading up to Saturday, I texted a friend and asked for tips. How do I make up excuses to stop and catch my breath without making it seem like I can’t handle the challenge? She gave me some great ideas (re-tie your boot, stop to take pictures, take your sweatshirt off and put it in your bag, etc.), but I think what I was really asking was: how do I take care of myself while hiding my vulnerability and inexperience? How do I make sure the only thing I let them see is strength?
I was missing the point.
Strength does not come from a lack of vulnerability. Let me say that again. Strength does not come from a lack of vulnerability. The strongest people I know are the ones who have the ability to admit that things are hard.
Life is lived in the struggle, in the process, in the valleys.
Our God is the God of mountains and valleys, but we need to remember that real life doesn’t look like a steady climb up and up until we reach the peak. It’s more like a labored journey through trials and valleys, with moments at the peak seemingly few and far between.
We should love the valleys in which we live, because when we reach the peak we truly see how beautiful they are. We see the intricacy of the trail that brought us to our high points. We gain an understanding that we can take with us on the journey back down into the valley from which we came.
I wasn’t surprised that I made it to the top of Poo Poo Point. What surprised me was that even though the top meant a gorgeous view and a rest from the climb, I was eager to get back to the trail (I mis-typed that and wrote trial…coincidence?). It was difficult, but it had a community of people who were going through the same thing as me. People who were glad when I asked to stop for a break, because it meant they got a break as well – a break to talk, laugh, and share stories. It turns out that the best memories from a hike are often the conversations shared on the way up together.
Share your struggles, and love your valleys. Life is a long trail with many ups and downs, but God gave us beautiful people to walk right alongside us (at our pace, no less!) because we aren’t meant to do it alone.