Jesus was a pair of hiking boots for me today.
Let me start from the beginning. This weekend I’m going on my first ever backpacking trip. I’ve run half marathons and marathons. I’ve hiked to the top of El Capitan. But I’ve never hiked the distance of a half marathon or marathon while carrying 20-30 pounds of stuff on my back. And then camping overnight. And then doing it all again the next day.
This doesn’t particularly sound fun to me. But neither did running. And I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from that. The pain hurts so good. So I’m intrigued to see if backpacking is the sort of misery I will enjoy.
My boyfriend and I started packing for this endeavor on Wednesday night. I didn’t understand why it was necessary to pack so early. Then we started doing it. I started getting stressed thinking about all of the things I needed in my backpack. But my boyfriend pointed out that it was better to be stressed thinking about all of the things you need and all of the possibilities of what could go wrong before we were out on the trail rather than on it. I was a grumpy person that night, but I’m glad we packed so early.
Especially because, last night, we realized that I didn’t know where my hiking boots were.
The last time I needed to wear them was in August. And I moved in June. I searched the house three times. I checked my car twice. My boyfriend checked his car two or three times. We called his parents, who had helped me move, and asked if they happened to find my boots in one of the boxes they let me borrow.
My hiking boots were gone.
We still haven’t found them. I normally put my hiking boots in a trash bag after I wear them on the trail, since they get pretty muddy and I don’t want them getting my car or my boyfriend’s car dirty. So, unfortunately, my boots may have accidentally been thrown away.
Last night was pretty bad. Like I mentioned in my last post, I have some mental health issues. I get really upset about small things, which turns into a downward spiral of blaming and hating myself. Losing my hiking boots isn’t necessarily a small thing, since I needed hiking boots for my backpacking trip in..uh..two days. But it is much less of a deal than I made it out to be. I started thinking things like, “It’s my fault. I’m so stupid. How could I throw away my boots? I don’t deserve to go backpacking because I can’t even take care of something that cost so much money. I’m a horrible person.”
I was aware how stupid this was as it was happening. Sometimes when I’m in an episode like that I’m not as aware. But since I was, that’s what helped me snap out of it. My next thoughts were, “Hey, wait. It is pretty ridiculous that you might have thrown away your hiking boots. But stranger things have happened. There’s still time to fix this since you started packing so early. It’s going to suck to buy new hiking boots. But you can do it tomorrow.”
So I did. I went to the local outdoor store after work today and got new hiking boots. And as I was driving there, I thought about how this story could be a metaphor for the spiritual life. (Yes, that’s how much I think about the spiritual life. Almost anything can be a metaphor for it.)
You can do all of the preparation and get all of the important things you need for salvation. I need all of the things I packed that first night – food, water, flashlight. But if you’re missing the one thing that puts your feet to the ground to move you forward, it’s all for nothing. That could be hiking boots. Or it could be Jesus.
There’s a spiritual metaphor for the way I reacted, as well. I started demeaning myself, blaming myself, telling myself I wasn’t worthy because I had made a poor decision. I almost let it stop me. I was going to stay home all weekend and mope while my boyfriend and friends went on without me. How often do we tell ourselves that we’re unloved because of a decision we’ve made? How often do we settle for something less because we don’t feel like we’re deserving enough of the thing we really want?
But that is not the Truth. And I recognized that the first voice in my head was being irrational. There was a simple solution. Granted, it was a hard solution for my bank account. But if I wanted to go backpacking, I needed to do what needed to be done and get the essential thing that I needed. In the same way, we have to do what we need to do in order to follow Christ. Often what He calls us to do is difficult. It can even hurt. But He is the most essential thing. And if I want to reach that eternal mountain, I need to go after Him.
I hope you always find exactly what you need. And if you don’t, I hope you remember that you’re worthy enough to chase after it.