We were about half-way through our 2.7 mile walk when the griping and groaning started.
“But my legs are too tired.”
“My knees hurt.”
“I have rocks in my shoes.”
“This is too long.”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“I don’t like to hike.”
“Can we just stop and rest?”
The tired complaints seemed a mile longer than our actual path and were probably just as tiring.
With his 20.8 lb sister already on my back, I was beginning to fear that I would either be subjected to 1.35 miles of painful, ear-numbing complaints, or that I would be forced to carry sister in the back and brother in the front. Neither sounded appealing, so I tried my hand at a few of my “desperate-mother-on-a-hike-with-her-two-small-children” tricks.
I tried walking in front of him, encouraging him with silly songs, funny questions, and competitive races.
It wasn’t working.
I walked behind him, feigning the part of a mother who needs a “fearless guide” because she is struggling with “path confusion.”
It wasn’t working.
I tried Popsicle bribes, affirming compliments, a game of “I Spy,” and even a few “pull-yourself-together-because-you-have-done-this-hike-before” shouts…but nothing was motivating my tired tortoise.
He continued to lag behind, and I continued to feel annoyed. SO, I did the thing that only super-awesome, patient-loving, grace-filled Mamas do.
I walked faster.
I’m not exactly sure if I thought that the fear of being stranded alone in a ginormous forest with aching knees would suddenly rid my son of his walking woes and motivate his buns to move, or if I just wanted to put the whining WAY behind me, or a combination of both, or something else entirely…but I did it, and it kinda worked for like three seconds.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
Running up the path as fast as his little legs could carry him, he lunged for my hand. And with a voice that was nearing the ledge of a break-down (NOT AT ALL what I was going for), he said, “Mommy, can you just walk beside me and hold my hand?”
With a twinge of guilt, I grabbed for his little hand.
UGH!!! Why hadn’t I thought of that!?!?!?!?! Why didn’t I try that before the forest-ditching technique!?!?!?!
Sure, I had tried walking in front of him and sure, I had tried walking behind him…but never once had I attempted to walk with him.
Hand in hand, we meandered our way through the trees. And as we walked and talked and giggled, I quickly realized that most of the complaining had subsided.
BUT WHY? Nothing had really changed.
The mile markers were still the same; the terrain was still rugged; and the sweat was still on our brows.
I decided I would ask.
“Does holding my hand make the hike easier?”
“Well, it doesn’t really make it easier, Mommy; It just makes it gooder.”
I’m not sure that a grammatically incorrect response has ever brought me to tears (at least not in a good and happy way), but my tear ducts quickly filled.
He. was. SO. right.
Holding my hand didn’t make the miles change, or the terrain easier, or the sweat less; it just made it ‘GOODER.’
And as I thought about that for the rest of our hike, those words resonated so true and so deep…especially as it relates to my walk with the Lord.
Because let’s just keep it real…followers of Christ were never promised an “easier hike.”
In this world you will have tribulation. John 16:33
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12
You will face hardships…
not if, but when…
so don’t be surprised.
As followers of Christ, we weren’t given a “Fast Pass” through the hard or an “Easy Ticket” through the painful. No, not at all.
We still deal with the difficult relationships, the debilitating diseases, and the disappointing losses.
We still face the broken promises, the bad choices, and the barren wombs.
We still struggle with the tempting addictions, the terrifying fears, and the tormenting pasts.
We still battle the unhealthy behaviors, the unnerving bills, and the uncontrollable children.
We still grapple with the existential questions, the ethical dilemmas, and the everyday junk.
We still have “hard.”
When we walk with Christ, holding His hand, resting in His shadow, and leaning on His strength, we have HOPE for today’s trials and tomorrow’s temptations.
Because we know…
Walking with Jesus doesn’t ensure an easier hike, it just makes it ‘gooder.’
Because we have HOPE that this hard is not the end.