Finding Hope ... A Peek

Introduction

Go Get ‘Em  

It was 6:00 a.m. when I heard the click of my alarm. I reached over and turned it off. The alarm was set so I could get up and down the mountain before the heat of the day set in. The night before I had promised myself that I would get up and do my early morning hike to start the day right. From years of exercise, I’m pretty fit for 53 years of age. Most people don’t understand that physical fitness isn’t what really compels me to get up and down the mountain. It’s a mental fitness that I’m after.

My close friends know depression and anxiety runs deep in my family roots. My Grandpa Cederlof had it before it had a label. It was “he’s just not feeling well.” I think about how lonely and helpless he must have felt during the years that depression got control of him.

 I got slammed with depression shortly after my first child was born. I was working full time with a child in full-time day care and supporting our family while my husband set his sights on three years of law school. There had been other times in my life when I felt depleted, worn out and pulled in too many directions and was barely able to keep my head above water. This time I sunk. I sunk into a dark and lonely place where hope does not exist.

A place where it is a desperate attempt to make it through a single day.

A place where you just want it all to end.

A place where I’d go to the bathroom stall several times a day at work and scream and cry in complete silence.

A place where I’d put my child in her crib for a nap on the weekends and crawl under the crib into the dark corner and lay there in the fetal position until she woke up.

A place I never want to return to.

And so I hike. The endorphins and the fresh air and the sunshine feed my soul. I’m one step ahead, one hike ahead, one mountain ahead of the devastating disease of depression. It’s a race that I’m winning. The physical fitness of my body is just a nice side effect of exercising. Positivity in my thoughts – that’s what I’m really after.

This particular morning my legs felt heavy and tired as I turned off the alarm. Maybe I’ll hike in the afternoon – sleep in a bit and deal with the heat later. But I knew better. So I jumped up, threw my workout clothes on and drove to the mountain trail. As I walked toward the trail, I silently prayed to Heavenly Father about what the Spirit had been telling me for years – write a book. I needed courage to begin. Lately the message I was feeling and hearing in my mind and heart had an urgency to it. I needed to gather my thoughts and my courage and begin writing this book that was somehow important and necessary. “Please Heavenly Father – give me courage … ”

I felt the familiar exertion of leg muscles pulling me up the start of the climb and the direct effect it had on my lungs. This is where I needed to be. I saw a group of three men on the trail headed toward me. They had clearly hiked an hour earlier and were now headed down the mountain. I pulled my head up to nod the casual “good morning” greeting that we hikers do. One of the men caught my attention. He looked me directly in the eye and said, “Go get ‘em.”

Go get ‘em. It was a direct answer to my prayer and I knew it.

I thought about those words all the way up the mountain. Go get ‘em. They were words of encouragement. Positive words. Words that implied that it could be done. A message to me about having the courage and dedication to write, to love, to teach and to share my experiences and testimony. Clearly the hiker was referring to the immediate situation of pulling my body up the side of a mountain. Nature’s elements are all around waiting to be conquered. Narrow rocky trails, cactus and rattlesnakes there to keep my attention focused. Go get ‘em. A tender mercy on the mountain just for me.

Go get ‘em. I thought of them on a larger scale – an eternal scale. Perhaps Heavenly Father looked us directly in the eye and said something similar. Words of encouragement. Positive words. Words that implied that it could be done. In His infinite wisdom he knew we would have steep, rocky trails to climb here on Earth. He knew there would be sweat and tears and pain. He also knew that it was all part of a beautiful plan. A Plan of Salvation. A Plan of Redemption. A Plan of Mercy. A Plan of Happiness. A Plan which would bring His children up the difficult trails of life, but ultimately bring them back down the mountain toward home – our eternal home. And He knew we could do it.

And so I write. My experiences and my trials are no doubt different from yours. The common experience we all share in this life is pain. Physical pain. Emotional pain. Pain that literally hurts your heart.

But this is not a book about trials. This is a book about hope. It is about seeing and hearing and feeling and looking for hope despite the pain and worry that consumes you. It is positioning your heart, mind and soul to recognize the messages of hope from God.

There are three reasons we all encounter painful trials: consequence to a choice, mortality (a physical nature) and lessons we are to learn. Regardless of which reason we find ourselves struggling, the way to handle it is the same. It is why we are here – to become closer to God through it. To become like Him. We are to take a stumbling block and figure out how to make it a stepping stone. Because life doesn’t happen TO you – it happens FOR you.

Though our trials may be different, I have discovered a spiritual pattern which takes the focus off of our feet plodding up the trail – a pattern which gives us strength as we pull ourselves and our gaze upward. Thought processes and patterns in our daily lives which allow us to feel hope in what feels like an impossible storm. Hope replacing fear. An eternal perspective. That is something that we can all cling to on this hike we call life.

 Austin Tucker Photography

Austin Tucker Photography