The other day we all went for a bike ride downtown to the artfest at the Price Tower. It wasn't a bad ride at all going. I had a little energy (which was nice since I'd been sick for the previous 10 days) and it was gorgeous weather outside.
We had a decent time at the artfest and the kids were able to see and do neat things! Jackson's artwork was displayed from school and that was fun to see and get pictures. Side note: he was in a TERRIBLE mood that morning or I think artfest would have been amazing. :/
Anyway, on the way home, *on the way there was primarily downhill* it was primarily uphill the whole way. Several factors played into why it was even harder than normal. We chose a bad path, Jackson was on the tag along behind me, I was weaker than normal because of my sickness, and I am out of shape.
Anyway, I had analogies popping into my head right and left and I thought I might attempt to make them make sense outside of my head. Wish me luck...this endeavor is not always successful.
Jeff was up ahead of me because I was fatiguing quite quickly. The nice thing about that is you get to watch and learn from their mistakes. #1 It is such a great asset to have people in your life who have already walked the journey you are on, so that you can watch the way they live life, and learn from them, both in good and bad situations.
In watching Jeff struggle up the hills, (there were SOOOO many) *he had BOTH girls in a buggy and was probably much harder than me just pulling Jackson (who could also help peddle)* I realized #2 that if I worked hard before I got to the hill then I wouldn't struggle UP the hill. It didn't make the hill any less of a hill, but I was prepared and ready for it when I came to it. I think marriages have been on my mind lately as we are in the middle of counseling several couples in difficult situations and fighting for their marriages. So I just began thinking along those lines. The hills and very big mountains WILL come in your marriage. The key to making it up and over these hills and mountains is to be prepared AHEAD of time. You can see them coming if you are paying attention. The hill is not the problem, it's how you plan to get up it. At times Jeff would seem to come to a complete stop in the middle of the hill, because he physically couldn't pedal anymore. He was stuck literally trying to keep balanced and keep moving...and that's not an easy task! My philosophy of working hard before you get there paid off. I pedaled as fast as I could beforehand and gained speed, so when I got to the hill, although it was still tough, I made it up just fine (only very slightly out of breath)!
There were other times when the hill got so steep, we had to get off our bikes and walk up because it was seemingly impossible to make it up the way we had planned. #3 No matter how much you plan ahead, there will be mountains that just take time, extra effort, and thinking outside the box. But more than all that, it took prayer and determination. I wanted to give up. I wanted nothing more than to sit on the side of the road and wait for someone to come pick me up. I could.not.go.any.further. But yet, somewhere within me, I found strength to push more. I walked a lot. It was humbling as people were driving by (very fast I might add) and watching me walking a bike with a boy on the back of it. I felt like a "loser," but in reality, I didn't give up and so I didn't lose. Sometimes humbling yourself (I am SO prideful by nature) is the very best thing. It isn't always best to act like you have it all together, especially when you don't! Don't be afraid to let others see your weakness. It can be very powerful.
#4 This is kind of a random thought, but here goes anyway. Jeff and I both were carrying a lot of "baggage" with us behind our bikes. Our "baggage" happened to be our greatest blessings, but for the purpose of this analogy, I have to call them baggage. Had Jeff and I been riding alone on our bikes, just the two of us on two bikes with no kids, I KNOW it wouldn't have been nearly as difficult to go up those hills. Having the baggage is like gravity pulling you backwards, begging you to stop, physically not allowing you to move forward. Baggage in life and baggage in marriage is so difficult. A lot of times this baggage can be lightened if not completely eliminated by making positive choices ahead of time. Like staying pure in mind, heart and body, both before and after marriage. Spiritually, by reading the word, praying, applying it to your life. Physically, by eating healthy and working out to keep your body in shape. All these things add up and create really heavy baggage to carry around when poor choices are made. However, some things in life, happen to us, whether we make good choices or not. But not allowing that baggage to just fester and create heavier baggage, is a way in which we can lighten the load. Seek counseling. Getting through your issues and talking them out with a professional is such a positive step for you to lighten your load. (I love my babies and they are not baggage...but blessings, just to reiterate again) :)
We eventually made it home, not without many complaints, both silent and verbal, from me. I could barely make it in to the house fast enough before getting sick, and afterwards I was beat and fell asleep as if I were dead. But I had worked very hard and it felt good to rest. It had done me in for sure.
I think not only can these analogies apply to marriages, but really to all aspects of life. God tells us there will be trials in life. In order for our faith to mature and be complete, trials will come. I didn't pass the having "joy" IN my trial this time, but I can tell you that I did learn so much in hindsight...just as is promised. I love when God speaks in the day-to-day activities of life. He is so good to me. I am very blessed. I am still learning.