Over the weekend I went hiking with some friends. Now I love hiking but the trail was significantly stepper than I anticipated. As I trudged up the steep inclines I kept telling myself just to make it to the next point - the end of the of the hill, to the shady spot, to the overlook, to the curve, etc. If I had made it to that point, then it would all be over. But each hill lead to another one and each shady spot was soon eclipsed by more sun. Even when I finally reached the top, I still had to hike back down the 3 1/2 miles I just came up.
By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I had used a significant amount of emotional, mental, and physical energy so therefore coming down was even bigger toil. By the end of the hike I was done - swearing to never go hiking again, ready to fall over, and just wanted to get to my bed. That day the hike felt more like a chore than it felt like a joy.
I wonder if we live our lives like chores instead of joys, spending so much of our time just trying to make it to the next the next thing.
If I can just make it to graduation.
If I can just make it to the end of this semester.
If I can just make it to the end of the week.
If I can just make it to the end of the day.
And when we make it through the end of the day we are left disappointed because we still have get back up and do it all again tomorrow. We make it to the weekend only to realize there are only 48 hours between us and the week starting again. We make it the semester's end to find another one starts right after. We make it to graduation to find student loans, and unemployment.
We feel unsatisfied because we expected to be finished only to find another hill in front of us.
When we live with our eyes solely focused on just making it to the end we miss out on a lot and we grow tired. We grow tired because it feels like there is a never ending series of hills and inclines, of miles to travel. We thought we would be finished by now but we aren't. And when our eyes are solely focused on the end we miss all that is happening around us and life becomes a burdensome task just to make it to the final stop.
I think living our lives like this tires us out too much. We are so focused on just getting by, on counting down the hours until we can go home from work or class, we are counting the weeks until finals are over, or we are counting the days until vacation. What is in front of us isn't a challenge or an opportunity - it's an obstacle in my way of getting to the end. This way of living seems exhausting, and having lived like this it is exhausting.
There has to be a better way. God intended for us to have abundant life, not one buried down by burden. God says that his yoke is light, that he brings us to still waters for rest. So why are we only focused on the hills in front of us as obstacles instead of just what there are? Is there a way to change our mindset and fix our eyes not on our burdens but on Jesus? By fixing our eyes on Jesus we do not see the next hill, but we see our savior, our friend, and he is with us in the steepest inclines and the straightaways. I don't know if I have all the answers of how to do this but maybe by stop saying the phrase "If I can just..." might be a way to start.
1) Fall Today it's starting to feel a bit more like fall. I could wear pants, a vest, and even a scarf. It's nice to pull out my winter clothes again.
2) Friendships in Fresno. Fresno has always been a place that was another home to me since I did FUI back in 2007. Since that summer project, I've always had a deep love for the city, it's people, and what God is doing there. Even though I've only lived in the city for a max of 12 weeks in my life, I feel like I grew up there.
3) For the Twin. My best friend Sol and I met on a summer project in Fresno. We were friends for 6 weeks before we decided that we'd be friends for a lifetime. She has taught me so much, has been with me through a lot of crap, and inspires and encourages me every day.
1) Bible study growth. I lead two bible studies this semester and the second one started off with me and my co-leader apprentice the first week. Now midway through the semester we have about 12-15 people who come through our study.
2) Thursday was a wonderful day of rest. I got to sleep in, do laundry, read, and take a much needed break from running around.
3) I'm grateful for one of my students, Darin, and the growth he's seen over the past year. About this time a year ago we were talking about his academic struggles and failures and now we are celebrating his success and growth.
1) My area team meetings are probably the highlight of my month. It's so great to be able to come to every one now, to bond with my staff team (since it's the only time I get to bond with a staff team), and hear from each other. These are becoming my dear friends. Not to mention for the first time we did so in the Valley!
2) My freshman bible study. I love our jokes, our games, and our scripture study. I't been great getting to know these people and invest in them. Ask us about "salt" and "saltiness" and our metaphysical description of Matthew 5.
3) InterVarsity's LaFe ministry. Just a few years ago, it was an idea that turned into a dream that turned into a full blown ministry. I love that we have a thriving community of Latino students seeking after Jesus - one that goes deep with each other and makes Pokemon references about wisdom.
1) Spontaneous moments at church with Katie, eating cupcakes, grocery shopping with my pastor, and attempting not to cause too much trouble. It's great to feel more invested and a part of my church, even if it's to just come by for a moment.
2) Being a part of HOPE Fellowship. As much as I attempt to say I'm not a leader there, no one will let me get away with it any more. I feel accepted, welcomed, and a part of the community.
3) Quick boba study breaks with Jenel. It's been hard to get good one on one time with her since her school schedule is insane but I'm grateful that boba stays open past 10pm so we can have the quick study break hang out.
Over the past couple of months there have been many "challenges" that have arisen on social media. Whether it's dumping ice on your head to raise awareness for ALS or challenging people to be thankful this stuff comes up a lot. And I ignore 90% of it.
But this time I was challenges to write three things I'm thankful for for 5 days in a row. And I thought - why not? Gets me blogging for this whole week and thankfulness is a good thing right?
Week of Gratitude Day One
1) I'm grateful for my mother who drove with me on quite the epic adventure this weekend to retrieve something from Long Beach. I'm thankful she has an adventurous spirit and in the midst of her busy schedule still wanted to travel, eat, and take photos.
2) I'm thankful for Austin, our InterVarsity worship leader, for leading us in a time of liturgical worship. It was new, it was different, but he's done a great job in leading our fellowship in worship during this year. I'm grateful for his servant's heart, for his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit moving, and his desire to see others transformed by Jesus.
3) For all things pumpkin. Although in many places were are overdoing it (I saw pumpkin pie pop tarts the other day) I am grateful for Sweet Snow's pumpkin shaved ice. It is quiet delicious.