A superfit friend of mine climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last summer. After her trip, she came to our house for dinner. Chris and I had one million questions for her. How hard was it? How much additional training did she do? What was the best part? The worst?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of those things that sounds both awesome and terrible to me. I kind of want to do it and kind of really don’t.
She said the hardest part was not the physical difficulty, but, instead, how slowly you have to go. She’s used to fast, distance running and, here she was, going at a pace slow enough for the entire group - all of varied fitness levels - to stay together. It’s also important to go at a pace slow enough to let your body acclimate. The guides know what pace the group needs to be able to summit together.
On the last night - summit night! - you slow down even more. You take a rest step between each single step. There you are, just hours from the top, and the pace decreases! She said she cried privately behind her goggles as the pace slowed - the mental challenge far outweighing the physical.
I thought of my friend’s experience as the new year turned. By now, you’ve read enough about goal setting and having an intentional year and deciding where you want to be 365 days from now. These are all good things to do. We have our goals over here, for sure. I have high hopes for what 2019 could mean for our family.
But I’m reminding myself that sometimes life is meant to be lived more like her Kilimanjaro climb than it is a race. There are things to run hard and fast at, absolutely. But there are certain seasons - the waiting periods - that we can’t muscle through. You can’t make your body create a baby by goal setting. You can’t will yourself to be married through checklists. You can’t magically be in the future you’re yearning for with a new planner or more organized home.
We can just take the next best step right now - one foot in front of the other. And sometimes, when we’re so close to the summit, the pace might slow. The rest steps may come in the form of a heartbreaking miscarriage, a horrible breakup, a lost job or home. I don’t say this to make them sound trite or small, but, instead, to remind you that nothing is wasted. The Lord makes good out of even the deepest pain. Each one will be used in your life. Just like my friend’s rest steps were required to make it to the summit - and beyond - so these things will be needed to propel you to the future meant for you.
A friend of mine had a miscarriage before she had her last baby. I asked her about it and held back tears as she talked about mourning the precious life. Then she told me that, although it still hurts, she knows she’d never have the baby she has now if she’d held the other one in her arms. And I wouldn’t change anything about my life if it means I get to have Millie now, she told me with tears in her eyes.
I laid on the floor with McCoy recently and thought about the heartache Chris and I both experienced before him. The journeys we each walked - the good, the bad, the beautiful - every, single step - led us to him. I wouldn’t change anything - not the tears we cried, the heartbreak we experienced, the sometimes far-too-slow pace it took for us to get to him. Because each one led us here.
So make your goals, friends. Have high hopes for this year. Hard work will not be wasted. But while you go hard at those goals, trust in His timing, His pace. Allow yourself to rest in the goodness of His grace each day, believing that your time is coming.
Sending you love and solidarity this year.