There is one thing that you can almost always count on when you spend time in the wilderness: when you are carrying around that much baggage, tangibly and metaphorically, you are bound to lose something.
It may be your favorite bandana (lost to the sea on the beaches of Hawai’i in 2015)
It may be something good, like your fear of taking three kids hiking in a different state, by yourself, on a trail you’ve never been. (Sedona, 2016)
Loss has always frustrated me more than anything else in my life – for the plain and simple fact that it reminds me that I am not in control. And, boy, do I dislike that. But I’ve been praying to have a heart like Job, able to praise God despite loss, and a situation this last week proved to me that I am learning and that gives me SO MUCH HOPE!
The kids and I headed out into our beloved BLM to explore last week, since the temperature was finally above 32 degrees. We ended up walking 5 1/2 miles – I had started out the trip with a scarf because of the wind, but had gotten too warm and taken it off. The next day, I realized the two necklaces I had been wearing were missing.
We were on our way to a movie and dinner to celebrate my two oldest’s birthdays and I told myself: “I am not going to let this ruin the evening for them or me. God, I don’t know why I’m experiencing this right now, but you do. Help me be OK with that.”
After thinking back over the previous couple of days, I figured they had gotten caught in my scarf and were ripped off when I removed it on our walk. So, Saturday, while my husband was at work, the kids and I prayed and retraced our steps. No luck. Again, I fought off my disappointment.
The truth is, I’ve had a lot of disappointment in the last year. And every hurdle seems to have a sequel. I’ve had several things go missing in the last few weeks and it hasn’t felt like a coincidence. Each one has just been one more reason to doubt whether God is really, truly, good. Or have they? What if they are really just opportunities to practice what I have struggled with for so long: laying my burdens down. You don’t summit a mountain without preparation. You don’t climb Monkey Face without some practice. You don’t run a marathon without putting in some miles. Maybe you don’t learn to let go unless you practice with the little things? I know that losing necklaces is pretty low on the tragedy scale, but I’m fragile. I’m weak. I’m vulnerable.
I had to fight the urge to ask ‘Why, me?’, ‘Again?’, ‘Doesn’t this seem a little petty considering what I’ve already been through?’
And I said, ‘I trust you,’ instead. And it was so difficult. Not to say, but to MEAN.
The next day was Sunday. I was walking past my jewelry organizer (which is mostly empty because I pretty much wear the same thing for weeks, switching between a few different things) and I glanced at it. And I saw them. Of course, I had already looked there, but there they were, just the same. I don’t remember taking them off or putting them away. Maybe I didn’t.
I pushed aside the desire to explain it and I smiled – just smiled, and said, ‘Thanks’.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21