By Joan Endicott
It was late summer 1980 at 4:30 a.m. – definitely oh-dark-thirty. This was all new to me and I was excited and nervous to take the journey and a bit confused as to why we were asked to meet at such an early hour since we couldn’t even see well. I felt confident it would be a good experience because I had prepared in all the ways I was encouraged to by the experts.
For a few months I’d been working out and running consistently, hydrating, and eating (mostly) healthy foods, ensured I had the proper clothes, footwear, and that my backpack had the necessary supplies for this journey. Still, I couldn’t have anticipated how challenging this climb would be at times.
Our guide was Woody, a buddy from college who had a great deal of outdoor adventure experience, including climbing Mount Hood several times. He knew what he was doing. For myself and the other two guys, it was our first time. (I had been on Mt. Hood a few times before – on a chair lift and skiing down. Not too much navigation involved.) Since I was the only female, I may have also packed a bit of pride that made me very determined to not be seen as the weakest link.
By 5:30 a.m., we left Timberline Lodge and our climb up Mount Hood (elevation 11,250 feet) officially began. I was really excited about how enthused and energetic I felt starting out. The weeks of planning and preparation were now coming to fruition.
It took no time at all to see the contrast of the steep grade of this climb being nothing like running on the flat surfaces I was used to. How can I already feel this tired and breathing this hard? I’ve only just begun this journey. Clearly, I’m not as prepared as I thought. Over 1,000 feet above Timberline Lodge is Silcox Hut. Finished in 1939, it’s a small rustic mid-mountain lodge located at 6,950 feet. Over the years, hikers have used it as a warming hut and a starting point for their climb. Silcox Hut became a place and decision point for me. I needed to evaluate – I mean honestly and deeply evaluate – my commitment level to the rest of the journey. The reality was, 90% of my journey lay ahead of me, should I choose to go on. So, what were my options? At this point, I could easily go back by myself since the path was clear and easy. I also knew I did not want to slow anyone else down or in any way be a hindrance. In my heart, I also knew I didn’t want to give up on something I really wanted to do and this was one of the last options, timing wise, before getting married and moving 400 miles away. I shared with Woody how I felt surprised, discouraged, and disappointed at how tired I already felt when we were barely getting started. Fortunately, Woody was wise as well as experienced.
He reminded me, “It’s okay! This is not a race, Joan! You need to pace yourself, not try and prove yourself, or you’ll have a harder time and not enjoy any of it.” He encouraged me that I was in every way prepared and had everything I needed to have a successful climb.
At that point of decision, I knew Woody was experienced enough to know objectively if I was ready and would have told me if I wasn’t. I also knew I would regret it if I turned back. I chose to believe my trusted guide and recommit to the journey. It was time to simply watch, listen, trust, and do what my experienced guide advised.
That point of re-commitment served me very well throughout our eight-hour climb up to the top of Mount Hood and two-and-a-half-hour descent. Especially during those times when I felt so disoriented that I wasn’t sure if we were going up or down.
Yes, that’s the feeling I had a few times on this journey. I reminded myself to simply follow the leader, do what he does, go where he goes, step where he steps, don’t deviate, no matter how it feels.
My Mount Hood climb serves as an example of various life principles. With all that is happening in each of our lives, personally and in this world – from domestic to global crises – it’s human, it’s natural and normal to feel weary and troubled by it all.
Let’s imagine if I had started out my climb and had been easily distracted from my purpose by all the pretty rocks and cool wood I could find. As a beachcomber since childhood, I love pretty shells, unique wood and rocks, so this isn’t a stretch for me. (Though never officially diagnosed, I have all the symptoms of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome!)
“Ohhh, look at that pretty rock…that looks like petrified wood…and this one is like a piece of broken mirror…that one looks like a heart…I love hearts…” I tell myself, “They’re so little they won’t weigh much in my backpack.” As I keep adding, I reason, “See, not even noticeable.” When I run out of room in my backpack, I start cramming things in my pockets. Eventually, I finally start to feel weary from the heaviness of all I am carrying. Separately they didn’t weigh much, but ounce by ounce, pound by pound, I am now weighed down by a load I never imagined.
When I start telling my guide about how weary and weighed down I feel, he suggests we stop, take off my backpack and empty my pockets. It’s all out on the ground and as I look at each one, suddenly they look different. I see each one represents something much more meaningful. The heart represents my precious family and loved ones and all the worries and care I have about them. The petrified wood represents all my past mistakes and missteps that I have beaten myself up over – again and again – and fear for the future. The broken mirror reminds me of all my striving for others’ acceptance and approval…and how I always come up lacking. “It’s too much! It’s too heavy! I cannot carry this load any longer.” I cry out as I look up and see my guide is Jesus. I see only love and arms open wide.
“Oh, my precious daughter Joan, of course you can’t! You weren’t created to carry all this. You aren’t equipped nor strong enough. You will always be weary and troubled and continue to crumble under this load of care. That’s why I want you to cast your cares upon Me and let Me carry your load!”
“Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
Cast: To throw or fling with a quick motion and sudden release. To throw off, out or away.
Jesus bent down and began gathering up my load and put it in my backpack. I was a bit surprised because I thought He was going to tell me to just leave it. He gave me His backpack and put mine on his back. “Here, I’ll carry yours. You can carry mine,” He said. When I took hold of His, I realized it was weightless. “There’s nothing in this,” I said. “Exactly!” He said as He smiled and embraced me with unconditional love, understanding and compassion. “It’s time to stop trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, Joan. That never was your job. It’s always been mine and I finished it on the cross.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Weary – Having the strength much impaired by toil, suffering, etc.; tired, fatigued
Troubled – To agitate mentally or spiritually; worry; disturb; grieve; distress
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – by Helen H. Lemmel, 1864-1961
Verse 1: “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!
“Chorus: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Grab your FREE copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® book at www.JoanEndicott.com. Joan is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author and Coach who’s coaching has reached over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messages on Facebook and Instagram!