I love being a wife and a mom. Only one of my three children still nestles under my roof – the older two living with new tribes in far and farther away places. It’s quiet with three.
I miss setting the table for five. I miss Saturday soccer games, and juggling homework and practices and piano lessons. I miss last minute science projects and tucking the tinies in at bedtime and hearing, “Mommy, I need to bring three dozen gluten free, dairy free, nut free cupcakes to school tomorrow.” Okay, I don’t really miss that. Nor do I miss the drama of family game night. Pitting already rivaling siblings against each other in the name of fun and bonding? No. I’d rather make cupcakes and assemble the solar system out of Styrofoam balls at midnight.
One of the mom prerogatives I miss the most is the Forced Family Hike, or FFH. The FFH was enacted on Mother’s Day, my birthday, or any day I could leverage their crappy behavior (i.e.; clean the house or hike!) or guilt them into going. Enthusiasm for the FFH was inversely proportional to how long it had been since the last debacle hike. The longer ago the hike, the more excited they were to go on one. Maybe excited is too strong of a word. The more willing they were to go. And by willing I don’t mean there wasn’t whining because there was always, always so much whining. So, so much whining. Did I mention there was whining?
Ten feet into the hike: How much further? Twenty-seconds later, and continuing for the duration of the hike: How long is this going to take? How many miles is it? Can we take a break? How far have we gone? When are we going to be done? Is it all uphill? When can we have a snack?
My responses in dysfunctional syncopation: Just a little farther! Not too long! Just around the corner! Almost halfway! We’re almost done! It’s downhill after this! We will take a break soon! You guys are doing great! Skittle break in five minutes!
Recently we went on a hike, just the three of us, and my darling daughter asked one of those questions and I responded with one of those answers and she replied, “Mom, this is why I have trust issues.”
She realized my pep talk was bull, designed to keep her going just a little bit further. And then a little bit further still. Why didn’t I just tell her the truth?
I knew she could handle the next two or three miles or whatever it was, but I also knew she would think it was too hard and too far. Same with the other kids back in the day. As their mom, I knew what they were capable of, but if I laid it all out for them in the beginning, showed them the elevation gain, and the rocks they’d have to scramble over, the weather ahead, the miles trekked, they would never have gotten out of the car.
It’s the same with God. I want him to lay it all out for me. I want to know what is ahead. I want a detailed relief map, a layout of every inch of the terrain, but he knows how much vision I can handle at once. So he beckons me step by step – Just a little farther, It’s downhill after this, You’re doing great, Have some Skittles…
This life, it’s a Father’s Faith Hike, an FFH, and we walk by faith, not by sight.