I like Fridays….it gives me a chance to say TGIF..or Thank God I’m Forgiven…and to remember how much God has forgiven me for.
Today was the perfect Friday to spend a quiet day with the Lord and pray and listen to His promptings. It was also the perfect day to hike up to the top of Badger Mountain here in the Tri-Cities. The sun was shining, it would be hot later on and there was a cool breeze.
I headed to the trail head about 9:30 with my water bottle and began a slow uphill stroll. Usually I am going all out to get to the top more quickly than my last effort, always timing myself against myself. This day was for going slowly and enjoying each step.
As I was walking up the well manicured path this day I noticed more trash along the trail than usual…tissues, dog poop, bags of dog poop, etc. Usually I pick up trash along my walks; however, I hadn’t planned for that today….and usually the trail is spotless of trash…and didn’t have a garbage sack with me. As I came upon a baggie of dog poop, I felt the “prompting” to “pick it up”…I kept walking, but after a few steps did turn around to pick it up. It was tied in a knot, so I picked it up with my first finger and thumb and only grabbed on to about 1/4 inch of the top of the bag….the very least I could get away with and still hold it. I had a two-fingered vice grip on it, held it away from my body, could smell something from it every so often, and kept thinking, uh, this is not good. There are no trash bins on the mountain which meant I was going to have to hang on to it all the way up and all the way down. Plus, it must have been a rather large dog, as it was a rather large weight.
At first it was quite annoying. I was very aware of what I was holding onto and it was, UH! and very hard to ignore. It had its own “presence” and it was right next to me. I kept thinking about it and realized I was doing the right thing, but it was “uh”! So, I kept walking with the dog poop in my left hand and my water bottle in my right. Sometimes it would smell and sometimes it wouldn’t. But it was always, uh! I came to a rest area with the bench made out of large rocks. I sat down, put the dog poop on my left and my water bottle on my right. I sat and meditated for a few moments, checked my emails and texts, had a sip of water and started up the mountain again.
After a little bit of walking, I realized I hadn’t thought one bit about what was in my left hand. It was just me walking up the mountain with the dog poop in my left hand, my water bottle in my right hand, and all was well with the world. Dare I say, it had become a part of me!? I didn’t notice it, I didn’t smell it, I didn’t feel the weight of it, my fingers were fine holding it, and it was now again a nice walk up the mountain.
I started to think…isn’t this the way life is? At first something happens in our lives and it’s heavy and it stinks and it looks bad and it feels bad and without question, it’s bad! And we know it. Then after a while, it becomes a part of us…it’s still there, but we don’t know it, it doesn’t smell, we can’t see it, it doesn’t feel so bad and it’s not quite so heavy. Dare I say it becomes a part of us…uh!
As I came to the top of the mountain, I took a different path down the back side than usual. It was a beautiful day, I had no time constraints, I was open to a new path so off I went….still hanging onto my doggie bag and my water bottle. I started to notice there were fewer people on the trail today; in fact, most of the walk I had been alone with my thoughts. Soon, I realized it was because it was such a HOT day….most folks had finished their walk and were down the mountain. I kept walking and walking and walking and came to realize that this way down the mountain was not going to get me back to my car. I looked around and I was walking AWAY from the trail head and there was no one in sight. At last, another hiker came along going in the opposite direction, so I did ask her where this trail came out….back by the trail head where we park our cars? She said, “No, this comes out on the other side of the mountain”. She asked me where I had joined the trail and I told her. She gave me a couple options for getting back, including one that was shorter, but more challenging. I was now realizing that I was going to have to walk all the way back up to the top of the mountain, it was getting quite HOT and I had to make a choice. I chose the more challenging but shorter route to the top of the mountain.
While walking back up, interestingly, I again became aware of my bag of doggie poop. I was now walking with more intention, I was hungry, I was a little bit lost, it was VERY hot, the sun was beating down, there was no one around, I was now wanting to get back and my stroll became a fast walk. And the dog poop reappeared into my consciousness. And isn’t that the way life is…..when we are stressed, hungry, angry, lonely or tired, struggling, upset, etc., that little invisible bag of poop that we have been carrying around begins to smell, seems heavy, looks bad, and feels bad….all of that is still there! It didn’t go away, it just disappeared for awhile.
So, with my doggie bag and my bottle, “we” made it to the top of the mountain….and now I’m having trouble hanging onto the plastic doggie bag with my two sweaty fingers and it’s difficult to unscrew the top of my water bottle to take a drink of water without the doggie bag getting in my way. I’m now holding my water bottle lid in the same hand as the dog poop and screwing it back on too. Uh! I’m realizing I probably have a bit of a sunburn and I’m wanting to get down the mountain as quickly as possible. I start to use my water bottle to protect the back of my neck from the sun, holding it with my right hand. The dog poop is getting heavier and sweat is rolling down my face. I am intent of going back down the mountain the way I’m familiar with. I start down one way, passing a sign and then start questioning if this really is the correct way down? So I go back to the sign and check it out. I’m starting to question if I know how to get down, at all?! My mind is playing tricks on me. This happens again and I double check again, wanting to make no more assumptions. My feet are starting to slip on the gravel a bit because I’ve been on the mountain for three hours instead of one and I’m a bit tired. Flies are now starting to land on my hand holding the doggie bag, my wrist by the doggie back and my left arm. Of course they are, I’m sweating and I’m carrying a bag of now very warm, if not hot, dog poop. Uh!!!!
At last, at one very welcome point down the mountain, I recognize where I am, that the trail head is in sight, my car is in sight, and the very best is in sight….a garbage bin!!!!
As I dropped the baggie into the bin…I had a revelation… I realized that through all the personal growth work and healing that God has done in my life, I am no longer carrying around that little bag of doggie poop…..figuratively or literally!!! To no longer be emotionally fragile is true freedom. To no longer be easily offended is true freedom. To no longer be carrying around that little doggie bag (of debt, unforgivingness, bitterness, hard heartedness, etc) is true freedom.
I like Fridays….it gives me a chance to say TGIF…or Thank God I’m Free…and to remember how much I have to be thankful for.