I have a best friend that is unbelievably talented. We all think our best friends are pretty amazing, but let’s be honest, mine really takes the cake.
Jennifer and I met at summer camp in 3rd grade and have been best buds ever since. She has always been an inspiration to me, but now lives her life being an inspiration to others.
After college, Jennifer hiked the Appalachian Trail for the first time and really caught the hiking bug. Now a few years later, she holds the record for the fastest hike on the Appalachian Trail; was named a National Geographic Adventure of the Year; has been featured in The New York Times, on the CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends, and more; and has written two excellent books about her hiking experiences.
So yeah, she’s pretty legit…and I like to brag on her just a little.
She wrote a blog post this week that really hit home with me. Using hiking as an analogy, she explains that much like you must have a “pack shakedown” before starting on a long hiking adventure, we also need a “life shakedown” at times, to let go of so much we hold so tight.
I can think of so many things I hold so tight right now: my time (and protecting it), money, my appearance of being a good mom and having it all together, and especially...certain responsibilities that I just won’t pass off to others or ask others for help.
One of my favorite things Jennifer encourages us to do is to “share the load with other people” - I’m bad at this. In wanting to appear to have it all together, I often hold tight to things.
In Matthew Perman’s book What’s Best Next, he talks about delegating work, but I think it applies to more than work. He says, “our main aim in delegating is not simply to make our own lives better and free up our time. It is also to build up the other person…true productivity is about doing good for others."
In my life shakedown, what if I was able to let things go and bring others alongside me? Instead of fearing whether people will view me as incompetent, what if I saw partnering with others as a way to truly love them, giving them the opportunity to excel in a new task while also feeling a great sense of joy as they serve me well?
Asking for help is hard, but I think Jennifer really hits it on the head - we all need a life shakedown, and part of the shakedown is our opportunity to have others come alongside us to help carry the load…whether you are raising a child, completing a project at work, going through a tough life circumstance, needing a friend, or even just walking down a hiking trail.
In what areas do you need a life shakedown? In what areas could you let go a little and ask for help?
Books are a big deal around here. I read all the time. My son “reads” all the time. (This is where I should say that my husband reads all the time…well, that would be a stretch. He says there is no reason to read as I tell him everything from the books I read, so he “reads” the same books I read each year. Yeah…doesn’t cut it.)
We love Oliver Jeffers books around here, picking many up from the library, and now owning many as well. Our new favorite is the book Stuck, one my son received for Christmas.
A kid gets his kite stuck in a tree, and then proceeds to throw all kinds of things at the tree to get his kite down…a shoe, a can of paint, a cat, a whale, some firemen…you get the picture. At one point, the kid finds a ladder and a saw, but instead of using them properly, he chunks them up in the tree as well…where they get stuck.
And boy, is my life quite a lot like this. Especially in the new year.
I decide I am going to get quite a bit “unstuck” right now and I make a pretty large list of ways I am going to do it.
Not feeling connection with the Lord? I’ll throw an extra Bible Study, a new Scripture memorization scheme, some cute Scripture flash cards into the fray…soon things should fall in place.
Can’t quite tackle this sin problem that keeps nagging me? How about a good shot of book reading, looking up specific verses, even “punishing” myself when I fall short…yes, that should have this sin down in no time.
But, my life isn’t quite like an Oliver Jeffers book, and no amount of throwing Christian activities at it is going to get my heart right.
Hannah Anderson in her book Made for More tells a story about a friend of hers who confessed that she had been married 4 times. Hannah was a tad shocked, until her friend confessed that it had been to the same man. She went on to explain that their marriage was an act of choosing each other over and over again.
And isn’t that what God really wants from me? To choose Him over and over again. To not just choose Christian books or cool Bible Studies or neat Scripture memorization plans…but to choose Him. And much like Hannah’s friend, that might mean starting over each day. “Each day, we choose Him again,” she says.
Today, I can sit at the feet of Jesus. Looking to Him. Looking at Him. I can stop throwing a lot of “stuff” at the things that feel stuck in my life, and instead just turn back and gaze at the One who has released me from all the things binding me today.
The “stuff” I throw is just stuff until I can see and know Jesus more. The Lord wants me, not my long list of Christian activities. Will I choose Him today?
What makes you feel stuck? What types of things do you throw at your life that might get in the way of seeing Jesus?