While hiking with her mother last year, Tamara learned 3 great truths that can be applied to our rugged life journeys today.
The Family Trip
Just before school started last year, our family took a last minute vacation to two National Parks: Yellowstone and the Tetons. I found out my 73-year-old mother had never been, so I invited her to come with us.
While in Teton National Park we did two hikes on the other side of Jenny Lake: Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Mind you, we were hiking with Nathan, our son with low-functioning autism, so we go at a different pace than most and try not to push our luck with him.
It was beautiful and memorable—and we even made it without any autism tantrums (a miracle in and of itself).
But the lessons I learned from my mother (who has had a hip replacement) as we hiked Inspiration Point will stick with me the rest of my life.
We have taken our children to the Tetons National Park three times, and we’ve always done half of the hike up Inspiration Point because there is this beautiful overlook at the halfway point.
We haven’t wanted to push our luck with Nathan making him climb the rest of the steep rocky trail the other half (although I’m sure he’d make it if he were in a good mood).
After several photos of us with Jenny Lake behind us at the halfway mark, my three other children decided they wanted to go to the top. So they took off.
As the next group of hikers descended, my mom asked how the rest of the hike was. They responded enthusiastically that, “It is worth the climb!”
Hiking with Mom
My mom then said she wanted to go too, but we weren’t sure she should. She decided to go anyway, and I followed her—leaving my hubby with Nathan at the halfway point.
Even though she did catch her foot on one rock and did fall down at one point she picked herself up and kept going. She happily chatted and paused along the way mostly to take photos of wildflowers.
When we got to the steepest part with the rockiest path, I offered her my arm. She told me that she had learned helping others who are getting a little unsteady on their feet that it is better to hold onto something solid like a chair, table, or in our case the rocky mountain wall beside us than it was for her to hold onto me, because I was moving.
So, she slowed down, held onto the rocky ledge beside her and stepped carefully as we made our way up that final rocky incline to the top of Inspiration Point.
The view at the top was spectacular, but not as amazing as the many lessons I pondered as we climbed back down. Today, I share 3 that are particularly meaningful in this time of distress.
3 Truths Learned Hiking with Mom
#1-When Life Gets Steep and Rocky, Hold to the Rock
American author, publisher, CEO and religious speaker Sheri Dew said,
“He rarely moves the mountains in front of us. But He always helps us climb them.”
As a young child I remember singing the song, The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock. Since then, I’ve always loved the image of Christ being my Rock to build on.
When we hit the steep and bumpy parts of our life path, we should follow mom’s advice and hold to the rock. It is sturdy, it is stable and it will not shift or move. God can be our strength in good times and bad.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 43:1-3, 7,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof… The Lord of hosts is with us.”
So, the number one lesson I learned hiking with my mother is to hold to The Rock during difficult times. Jesus Christ has walked that lonely and steep trail before and He knows best how to help you through. He can be strong when you are weak and help you to keep going if you are willing to lean on Him.
#2-When You Fall, Get Up and Keep Going
One of the reasons I was so concerned about taking my mom up the second half of the trail was because I could see how rocky it was to climb, and I didn’t want her to fall and hurt herself. If I would have let my fears stop both of us from trying, we never would have made it to the top.
And although she did fall once, thank goodness she didn’t hurt herself too badly. I quickly ran to her side asked if she was okay and then helped her up. She wasn’t going to stop or turn back. Mom wanted to keep going.
American President, Richard Nixon said,
“Failure isn’t falling down. Failure is not getting up after you have fallen down.”
Do we let our falls keep up down? Do we give up when the going gets tough, when Coronavirus has us pulling our hair out? I know I have felt that way lately.
There are days when all we see is the next patch of rocky mountainous trail in front of us and we feel too exhausted to keep climbing.
But, like mom taught me, when we fall down, we get back up and keep going. Sometimes we do need the help of a friend to pick us up. But that is okay because we are not on this path all alone. The journey is much more fun when we share it with friends. Chat with your friends or loved ones walking with you.
So, don’t forget to get up and keep going if you fall down.
#3-Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey
One of the things that amazed me the most was how my mother seemed to pause and look around as she climbed the rugged trail. She stopped occasionally and remarked how beautiful the flowers were, admiring every little thing.
American evangelist, author, and Bible teacher, Beth Moore remarked,
“To God, our journey is just as important as our destination.”
When I was hiking last fall, I was looking at the hike as a destination—a view at the top of a mountain.
But my mother taught me that the climb is part of the journey and there are beauties to be found along even the rockiest trails—if we are looking for them.
The question becomes, where is our focus? If we are focusing only on the rocky path in front of us we are bound to miss the flowers just off to the side.
There is wisdom in slowing down and enjoying the journey. Pause. Look for the joys right beside you amidst the hardship.
One of the interesting things about the quarantine this year is the blessings people found because of it. Here are some things people commented on in social media about finding joy in this crazy journey:
- Special bonding time with family members
- Time to reach out and talk via phone or Zoom to loved ones
- Cut back on the busyness of life
- Eating meals as families
- Time to pray and talk to God
- Gratitude for personal interaction
- Getting cleaning and organizing projects done
- Time to work on hobbies like sewing, gardening, and music
German aviator, airline executive and religious leader Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,
“When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be… It is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.”
As I learned from this quote and my mother, it is good to slow down. The journey is just as important as the destination, although the destination was definitely worth the climb!
So, those are 3 of the lessons I learned from my mother while hiking last fall.
- When Life Gets Steep and Rocky, Hold to the Rock
- When You Fall, Get Up and Keep Going
- Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey
I have taken mom’s advice these past few week. I felt myself reaching the breaking point. There has been so much stress in my life for the past 6 months and it seems to have come to a head for me. I have slowed down, clung to Jesus, brushed myself off from my falls and begun to enjoy the journey more.
This week my husband and I went and looked at the beautiful fall leaves up in the mountains near our home. I loved seeing the fall colors: vivid reds, almost neon yellows, and vibrant oranges. God is a master painter when it comes to fall colors and sunsets. And I loved having a little break from my children. Let’s be honest, we all need time to refresh and renew our souls so we can keep going on our rugged trail.
So, if you are feeling worn out from climbing your rugged trail of life lately, apply at least one of these truths my mom taught me hiking last fall: slow down, cling to Christ and get up when you fall down.
God bless and hope on!