This is for you.
For the dreamers, doers, believers, the hope keepers and adventure seekers, this is for you.
It’s been a whole year now since Mwita and I set off for our adventure, a whole year now since we packed up our U-Haul, waved goodbye to the lives we knew in Lynchburg and sought out a new path. It’s been a whole year now, and my life is changed.
The places I went, people I met, and experiences I had will stay with me forever. Countless stories, images, and ideas are etched into my mind.
One such person I met just this week.
I had the pleasure of meeting a spunky lady this past weekend and I think she will stay in my mind for a longtime. A lady halfway through her trek on the Appalachian Trail- Georgia to Maine, and doing it all on her own! I am amazed.
I have to admit after talking to her, my adventure hungry heart felt so envious, as we waved goodbye to her and she set off on the trail. It was about 6 in the evening, she said she would do about 10 more miles that night until she got to shelter. The breeze blowing in the trees, the birds singing, the sun shining, and man, that trail called out to me. We dropped her off, she set off on the trail, and I longed for the freedom she must have felt.
More than just making my heart long for a new adventure, I loved hearing her stories and she taught me a few lessons, too- lessons from the trail that became lessons for my life.
She was telling us about how much character she had built in the last few months, about how many people had quit, and about how she was so determined to stay the course and then she said a piece of trail wisdom that went straight to my heart. She acknowledged that it was hard, her feet and legs would ache and she would feel tired and hungry, but she kept on. “You know,” she said, “We always say, never quit on a bad day.” So true, so true, so true.
That advice was just what I needed to hear on that day. You cannot quit on a day that it’s raining, or that you have blisters, or for me, on a day where you are overwhelmed by a recent loss, a new city and job, and a very long commute. You can’t quit on the days where it seems like too much, and emotions are high. Because tomorrow the sun might shine just right and all the world will seem lovely again and on that day you will realize what you left behind.
She continued, “You never quit on a bad day, but we know that when the going gets tough, the tough get to town.”
I loved that because it seems quite contrary to what we may think. When the going gets tough- you just push through. Or when the going gets tough you just become tougher. But sometimes, when the going gets tough, you do what you need to do to heal yourself and then you can make it through. In her case, a hot shower, a good meal, and maybe even a bed.
I can’t tell you how man times in the past few months I have been given the advice, “stay strong.” I am sure the intentions are of kindness and love, but really those words don’t mean much. When life is so sad and so scary and so hard just trying to “stay strong” doesn’t really do it. But when the going gets tough- the tough get to town- to rejuvenate, restock, and restore. Sometimes that is exactly what we need to do. Sometimes there are things you can’t just push through, and in those times a moment to stop to heal is perfectly ok. What a powerful lesson this was for me. To give grace in a moment of need, to give time to heal and restore, to realize that it is not weakness to know when you just need a moment to take a break. I’ve been pushing hard in this season. Starting a totally new job just days after the death of my father-in-law and trying to get used to everything in a place that is so new. And today just knowing that it is ok to not always feel like pushing through. Today knowing that it is ok to acknowledge that there is a “blister” on my heart and I just need to “get to town.” Get to a place of rest. Pushing through doesn’t always mean you are stronger. Sometimes the strongest thing to do is to admit that you need some time.
For any of those that know me well, you know I’m a dreamer. I have lofty plans for the future, big thoughts for tomorrow, but today I’m taking a moment to heal.