The hike began on a smoothly paved road...a simple walk on sloping hills where my footing was firm and stable. The path was easy to follow. It was laid out for me...clear as day. This was much like my childhood. Raised by amazing parents who always made me feel safe and secure, who I knew were guiding me in the right direction.
The paved road led me to a dirt trail. I stepped onto the dirt trail and found my way on level ground for a while. But then the trail started to get rocky and the climb up the mountain began. This trail was new to me. I'd never experienced it before. Sometimes the trail forked and I wasn't sure which direction to take. I found myself choosing the path closest to the creek. Even though it was more rocky and a harder climb...it made me feel safe knowing that I had the creek to follow. Several times I had to do a balancing act...finding my way on slippery rocks across to the other side of the creek. I fought my way up this mountain...pushing myself hard. This wasn't a leisurely stroll to enjoy nature. This was me fighting to prove something to myself. It was 101 degrees out. I was dripping with sweat. I heard the rattle snakes in the brush just off of the trail. A snake even slithered across the trail just as I was about to pass. There were places where there was no shade and I pushed myself even harder when the sun was beating down on me until I could get to that next shady place where I could stop for just long enough to get a drink of water and push on up the trail. At one point the trail got extremely rocky and I couldn't tell where the trail was going. I got lost. I was no longer on the trail. I no longer knew where I was going. I looked at my phone. I was three hours into my hike and had no cell reception. My face and my arms were bright red despite having applied sunscreen three times. My legs were dark brown from the dirt sticking to my sweaty legs. I was dehydrated and exhausted. I looked around to try to find the trail again and I couldn't find it. I looked up the mountain and realized that I didn't want to do it anymore. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't find the trail to take me to the top of the mountain. I couldn't continue searching for it and trying to fight my way to the top of the mountain when I was already so exhausted and the trail had been misleading me all along. I decided I was done. It was so hard for me to make this decision because I had committed to this hike. I wanted to finish it. I felt ashamed of myself for turning back so soon.
Heading down the mountain I had to find my way back to the creek and follow it until I came across the trail again. Once I found the trail, it was so easy to follow this time. Going up the trail, I couldn't see where it was leading me...but on the way down I knew exactly where I was headed. The trail was easy to follow because I could see it. I could see the coming obstacles. I made it down the mountain in about 1/3 of the time it took me to climb up it. By the time I reached that paved road that was so easy to walk on the way up, my legs were exhausted and that paved road seemed to go on and on forever. I finally reached my car I realized what a wise decision I had made not to continue up the mountain. I had called it quits at just the right time...while I still had enough energy to find my way back to the safety of my air conditioned car.
The other day I picked the kids up from John's house and my daughter announced, "Dad has a girlfriend and we got to meet her." My response..."Oh." On the drive home, Ephraim asked, "Are you and Dad still married?" My answer, "Yes." Daphne said, "You haven't signed the paper that makes you divorced."
The path down the mountain may be clear to me now but there are still many obstacles...many rocky places where my footing isn't always firm. While I know I made the right choice to not keep fighting my way up the mountain...I am exhausted and path down isn't as easy as it looks.