I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Tucson this past week. Just me and Jason. Have you ever been? Tucson looks like and feels like a different planet. My time there was everything I needed it to be; quiet, relaxing, delicious, beautiful, and even challenging.
There was a trail across from our resort and I was determined to hike it.
And, dang it, I got lost.
About 40 minutes into a pretty good trek, I realized I was NOT on the right path. Also, my water bottle was empty. Also, I was alone with no cellphone reception. Also? I was alone. No bueno.
So, I gave myself a super pep talk; “Well, now you’ve done it Andrea. We just made it through CRAP and you’re gonna just die here on a dry trail. You’re amazing.” This drama was all out loud of course, because there was NO ONE around.
Didn’t matter what direction I looked, it was all the same dry dirt, funky cactus and hot sun. I tried going backwards, but an imposing herd of deer stood their ground, not letting me through. They’re called “mule deer.” Weirdos totally freaked me out.
I tried going up but I just kept slipping. I even stood in the same spot for a while… You HAVE to know a metaphor is coming, right? All I saw were the long spikes on the cactus, the dusty, dry dirt, the unstable rocks, the the steep angle dooowwwnn and I could NOT help but think of… me. The sting of self-doubt, the choking of anxiety, the downward spiral of depression, the instability of emotion – I am this path. This is the most horticulturally-accurate version of my life last year!
The zig zag, the climb, the not seeing around the bend, ALL OF IT was just so close to home. And my out-loud conversation continued, “Okay, I see it. But what’s going to help me now?” When I looked down, the answer was right there in the dirt.
Footprints. Seeing all the footprints told me someone had been there before.
And sometimes, that’s enough, right? To know someone has walked that path of pain, loss, victory, growth, is all we need. The parallel was so sweet so I cried. And I kept following the footprints. And I kept crying and thanking God for all of you.
That’s the power of sharing our stories. It’s like leaving footprints. And those footprints, or stories, are so very important. Your story matters. My story matters. They keep us connected. After all, we belong to each other. We’re all in this life together. Keeping with the horticultural theme: maybe you’ve been bumping into a spiky cactus or staring up a steep cliff. Or maybe, God bless your lucky behind, you are the one sitting back on soft, green grass. Share your story. Leave your footprint.
God treasures stories so much he left His footprints through His own son. I would be lost without the story of Jesus. Before Jesus was born, David said in the book of Psalms (16:11) “You make known to me the Path of Life. You fill me with Joy in your presence.” Generations later, Paul (who walked with Jesus) says , “You have made known to me the Paths of Life. You will fill me with joy in your presence.” – Acts 2:28.
And today, we can say together, “Thank you for our paths. Help us look for the footprints. Keep us close God and fill us with joy.”
Keep walking. Keep sharing.