I have a dream too.
Well, I have a lot of dreams.
One of them is to write a book. Or a few books. I'm working on that.
But I have this other thing...I'm not sure if it's a dream or simply a desire...I'm not sure I even understand the difference between the two (something to explore at a later date).
I want to hike the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail.
|on the AT earlier this year|
|Hubster enjoying a work day on the trail|
Okay, you think, that's completely doable. A realistic desire that can easily be achieved.
Well, yes, if you don't mind breaking it into day trips that will take months to do. And if you don't mind hiking several miles each trip just to get to the AT (that's hiker lingo for the Appalachian Trail) and several miles to get off. And taking two cars so that you can drive back to your starting point.
We could do all 73 miles in a week and...
But I hate camping.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
That's a lie.
Well, it's not really a lie. I do hate camping.
But I realized that I've been using that truth to fuel a lie.
Huh? What are you talking about, Mary?
I have been telling myself and everyone else that the reason I don't want to do this all at once is because I hate camping, which is true, but the real reason is that I'm afraid.
It's easier to admit an aversion than to admit fear.
I'm afraid of the creatures of the night.
The Hubster is not. He likes camping. What man wouldn't prefer a week's vacation in the woods, where he doesn't have to bathe, change his clothes, shave or spend money on trinkets? The only trinket I'll be wearing is my bear whistle, and I sure hope it doesn't strangle me at night while I sleep on the ground which is home to millions of insects. Oh, did I mention free (the other thing that every man likes to hear)?
That's right. The AT is all-inclusive, which means all meals and accommodations are already paid for when you purchase your tent, sleeping bag, portable stove, backpack, freeze-dried food, water filter, granola bars, water and whatever the heck else I'll need.
I really have no idea how to do this. But I'm not afraid. At least not of the daytime activities.
I'm not afraid of bad weather, blisters or bugs.
I'm not afraid of eating lousy food, filtering my water or becoming weary from all that walking.
I'm not afraid of boredom or not having access to the internet for a week.
I am afraid of bears at night. Okay, during the day too. Yes, I know all about bears and what to do if (and most likely, when) I encounter a bear---make myself big by waving my arms, make a lot of noise, give the bear plenty of room, don't make eye contact, etc.
I'm used to hearing Hubster and the dog huffing and snoring next to me in the middle of the night. But not a bear. No, I'm not used to hearing a bear outside my sleeping quarters. Or inside.
I am afraid of rattlesnakes, copperheads and other poisonous snakes...okay, pretty much any big snake. Again, give them room, and they usually go away.
Little ones don't bother me.
I've even seen a few big ones, but as long as they're not sharing my trail, I'm okay.
But what if they decide to share my tent? That's really not okay.
And what about murderers who seek refuge in the woods, hoping nobody will find them? What if they murder us in the middle of the night?
And what about when (that's definitely not an if) I have to pee in the middle of the night? I have to actually go outside where it is very, very, very dark. What if I shine my flashlight into a pair of eyes that don't belong to the Hubster? What if it's a skunk, and he turns and...sprays?
And we won't even talk about going...#2.
And what about the darkness?
Ah, the darkness...finally, we get to the root of the fear.
But I'm not afraid of the dark!
I'm really not.
But apparently, I am afraid of what lurks in the dark. The unknown. Those things that exist to cause me harm. Boogeymen and monsters under the bed, if you will.
I just got finished teaching a series on Overcoming Negative Thinking, where I taught that the antidote to negative thinking is to meditate on Phil 4:8-9. One of the things we are to think about is those things that are true.
So, when fear comes rushing in, I must ask myself, Is this true? How likely is this to happen?
Okay, the likelihood of any of those things happening is...well, I don't know. They could actually happen. Or they might not. The only thing to do once I've determined that they could likely happen is to be prepared. And to face the fear when and if it comes.
To face fear that has not yet arrived is counterproductive, tiresome and just plain silly!
It's like worrying.
Well, it pretty much is worrying. And Jesus asks, Can any of you add an hour to the length of your life by worrying? (Luke 12:25)
Which is actually an interesting question because none of us know when our life will be over, so how would we really know just how much of that life has been extended by the worrying that we've done? Sorry, rabbit trail.
Maybe, just maybe, God is asking this independent woman, Do you trust me to protect you?
And maybe, just maybe, God is asking this independent woman, Do you trust your husband to protect you?
If Hubster is unafraid, and he is my covering, shouldn't I be unafraid?
Sometimes the dreams and desires we think are our own are actually God's way of teaching us in a way that we'll understand.
So if I appear obsessed with hiking and camping in the next couple of months, please forgive me. It's only my sad, human attempt at trying to learn the lesson ahead of time so I won't have to actually go through it.
Yes, I know it doesn't work that way.
Blessings Along the Path,