Thursday, September 24, 2015

But it's Just a Little Sand... What a little hike taught me about life.

There is a beauty in nature that no human - regardless of his/her skill set or talents - can mimic or recreate. It is this beauty, coupled with the promise of adventure, that make us an outdoor kind of family. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, you will find us choosing fresh air and sunshine over pretty much any other activity. 

Needless to say, with so much experience and exposure, we are familiar with nature and very comfortable in many different terrains. Even so, every time we venture out, we needfully prepare for obstacles and challenges that might come our way. 

On a recent outing, we packed plenty of water, snacks, a whistle, rope, and a small first aid kit into our packs and headed to one of our favorite corners of the world. Though familiar with the area, we were going to hike a new trail, so before we left, we took time to familiarize ourselves with the map and made sure we had a functioning GPS. 

With our supplies in our pack and my camera charged and ready, we started on our journey, full of hope and wonder at what we might find on our way. 

Not far up the trail, the path turned very sandy. The sand was soft and fun to walk in. Our feet slid around a little and we all shared some laughs about it. Sure, a little sand got in our shoes, but not enough to be bothersome or to slow down our pace. 

As the ascent continued, so did the sand. I chose not to be overly bothered by it and simply adjusted my stride to accommodate. And, as one might expect, with each sinking step, my shoes filled more and more. 

Several minutes passed and the sand in my shoes settled into the tip of my sock. It felt a bit like "sand pillows" under my toes. Soft. Squishy even. But still not bothersome enough to stop our progress so I could do a clean out. I simply adjusted my stride and kept moving. 

Eventually, however, the nuance of the sand pillows started to become a nuisance. It wiggled away from my toes and began to rub at the side of my foot. Irritating. Chaffing. But, I reasoned, it'd be pointless to stop and clean it out, because surely around the next corner, there is going to be another sand hill and my shoes will just get full again
So, I ignored the problem and just kept hiking.

By the time I made it back to the bottom of the trailhead, my shoes and socks were completely loaded down with sand. And, my feet were sore.

With great relief, I slid my tired feet out of my shoes, grateful to at long last be free from the irritation, but perhaps too late to avoid some long term effects. 

- Like the sand in my shoes, we often have little things in our life that at first don't seem to be a big deal. Sometimes, in fact, they may seem to be amusing or entertaining. But, after long periods of dragging those little grits along with us, they can build. And, as they build, they start to move "deeper" into our soul. Because of the Savior's Atonement, we are free to stop at any time to dump that sand out and start fresh. So, why don't we? Why do feel like we need to carry that sand all the way to the end of the trail?

As with me on the mountain, I simply didn't want stop because it seemed unnecessary and even pointless. As soon as I'd clean them, my shoes would surely fill up again, so why bother? 

Part of human nature tells us that it's pointless to try to be better because, surely around the next corner, we will mess up again. But, we know that our Savior has provided a way for us to be clean - not just one time, but as many times as we need it. Just as there is no reason to walk around with sand in our shoes, there is no reason to carry around our burdens, our sins, our frustrations, our shortcomings, or our heartaches. We don't need to reach the end of the trail, chaffed and sore. He has provided a way for us to be clean, if only we will take the time.

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