Someone had the great idea to celebrate being together for a year and a half by doing a strenuous hike. The perpetrator rhymes with rah royfriend.
No, no, it was actually a great time. 11.72 miles, 26,000+ steps, 6,000+ calories burned, and way too little water, we are still happily together and super sore (stats brought to you by my Fitbit Blaze. Not an ad. I just love this lil gadget).
The view, though.
At the peak, the boyfriend told me how our relationship was like climbing a mountain (yes, he is very sweet). For the remaining four (FOUR) hours of the hike, we pointed out proverbs from our journey. A lot of them related to relationships, but some are just for life in general. Here are some of the lessons we learned.
We All Go Different Paces. Be Patient With Each Other.
For every 15 breaks I initiated, the boyfriend initiated...zero. (laughs) I'm serious. But he never complained, cheerfully let me catch my breath, and then we continued our vertical direction. On our way down, his legs were suffering while mine felt fine. We're different. That's okay. Patience is needed amidst difference.
Take Note of How Far You've Come
There were 5+ pseudo-summits before we reached the peak. The boyfriend would point them out to me, but I ignored the first few because I was focusing on the sensation of pain. When I eventually stopped and saw the view, I was refreshed by the endless blue and green and cooled by stepping into the breeze. Why hadn't I just looked earlier? It's true there is more to climb, but enjoy your progress.
Follow the Blue Markers
It's easy to start thinking you know the way, but...you don't. We bushwhacked a few unintentional times because we stopped following the blue markers. I'm giving this one straight: follow the Bible, my friends. Follow Jesus. Even if you think you know, find the blue marker first. Saves scraped knees and broken hearts.
Also, sometimes the blue markers were SUPER obvious. Other times they took more effort and time to find. We even went a few feet on 2+ different paths to see which one panned out. Similarly, sometimes God's will is BAM-in-your-face-obvious. Other times, it's subtle, takes time to figure out, and we need to press on different doors to see which ones He opens.
The Blue Marker Path May Not Be Easy, But It Is Safe
A few times, we saw an unmarked path that went (gloriously) down, while the blue marked path went (frustratingly) up. Weren't we supposed to be going down by now? Wasn't the sun getting low? Certainly we could just take this one "detour"...
It is tempting to take an easier path: one headed in the direction we desire, paved with quicker satisfaction. But what is actually down that path? We knew the blue markers would eventually lead us down (indeed, they did). Similarly, we know that God has our best in mind: not just our eternal best, but even our temporal best. He may lead us up when we want to go down, but rest assured it is a safe path and the best path.
No fancy words for ya here. We stopped and prayed when I felt a blister forming (on hour ONE out of EIGHT). We prayed when we couldn't find the next blue marker. We prayed we'd finish before dark. We prayed for people behind us to finish in time, too. And I had a constant mental prayer asking Jesus to help me up this rock, and now this one, and help the boyfriend to pull me up, and thanks Jesus for such a strong boyfriend, and man this view is crazy amazing and...
Jesus cares about it all. The blisters, the views, the fears, and the joys. He is a constant, ever present friend.
Choose Your Journey Pal Wisely
This is true for all close relationships, but especially that special someone. The boyfriend is crazy encouraging, endlessly patient, super strong, quite creative, and quick to smile. I need(ed) all these characteristics. At the onset, he banned all apologies from me: I wasn't allowed to say sorry for taking breaks or being scared of big rocks. I helped him by constant humor, frequent prayers, and singing sessions to cheer us. We make a good team, this fella and I.
Whoever it is for you, do they encourage you upward and onward? Do they challenge you? Do they remind you that you don't want to be on YouTube but should be writing that blog post about our Old Rag hike instead? (ahem)
Countless more lessons from this 8 hour hike, but, succinctly, it was worth it. And so are relationships, and so is this life--this glorious life.
What is your takeaway from this post? What lessons would you add from your own experience hiking--or even another kind of exercise? I think I'll write lessons from running next--there are so many!