Letting go... a personal story

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a mother/son summer camp at an indescribable place.  The goal of the camp was to connect with your child at a deeper level using well-constructed adventure activities.  There I was at CAMP - I’m not kidding.  I arrived, and I was looking at a week of cabins, days packed with activity, no cell service, living with 11 strangers, no contact of any kind with the outside world, and very, very little sleep.  They promised big transformation. But as I stared in dismay the itinerary, anxiety coursed through my veins.  Then, the greatest thing happened…what was undoubtedly one of the most exhausting weeks of my life - emotionally, physically and spiritually - went on to become a suitcase full of stories that will forever change my perspective. 

Just a little background… on to the letting go story. 

Each of the mornings, there was an optional 6:15 “cross hike”.  I have to be honest, when I looked at the schedule, I didn’t know what that meant -- and given that it was scheduled at 6:15, I had no intention of finding out.  But low and behold, my East Coast body was in the Pacific time zone, and I woke in plenty of time, so I went. And that was the beginning of this journey.

I have a number of side stories from these hikes as well, including how I ended up on it each of the 4 days in a row it was offered, but I’ll stick to the topic for today.

And oh, important note, when I arrived morning one, I was the only participant.  My guide pointed to the top of the mountain ahead, where a large white cross was located at the peak.  So that’s what “cross hike” meant!

When we neared the summit, the guide explained to me that often we are carrying things that separate us from hearing God’s voice clearly.  Typically, we associate that with sin. And that’s true.  He expanded my thinking, though.  He asked me to think about anything I may be carrying in my heart from the past.  Resentment, bitterness, anger, jealousy, anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions that the bible says we are not meant to carry.  Then he asked me to find an object that represented my burdens.  He explained that we would carry our objects, and as we finished the hike, we would pray that God would reveal all of the deep burdens we were carrying and give us the ability to hand them over to Him.  He explained that we would walk in silence, and we could throw our object over the mountain at any point, or perhaps lay them at the foot of the cross. 

It’s funny how we rarely stop to take a hard, honest look at what we are carrying.  And when I did, it broke me open.  I set out to choose my object, and I couldn’t find one big enough to suit me.  I picked up the biggest log I could find.  I wished I could have carried a giant cross on my back, because that was the weight I was feeling at that moment.  I completed the hike in deep reflection, and laid my log at the foot of the cross and wept. 

On day 2, I did the hike alone (that’s a whole separate story!).  When I got to the spot, I remembered the request, and I picked up a nearby stick.  I finished the hike reflecting on what I continued to carry, and I laid it at the foot of the cross.

Day 3 was when it hit me.  In a group of about 40, we stopped at the same spot, and the same request was made.   The “aha moment”.  I picked up a small rock.  And that’s when I felt it.  Two days prior, I couldn’t find an object big enough to represent the weight of the darkness of decades of pushed down emotion, past hurts, pressures, guilt and shame.  But on day 3, my little rock seemed sufficient.  I didn’t weep as I crested the peak, I smiled.

On day 4, I had a prompting in my heart to set out on a mission.  I went out in the group of about 50, and I listened intently to the guide.  His family was going through a big challenge, and it was clearly weighing on him, although his spirit was joyful.  When we got to that spot, I approached him and said “it would be my honor if you would allow me to help bear your burden”.  I chose a fairly large piece of wood, and I prayed for his family along the rest of the hike. When I reached the top, I made eye contact with him, lifted it above my head, and laid it at the foot of the cross.  We both smiled.

We live in a broken world, but we aren’t meant to do this alone.

We are meant to be free.

What is weighing you down?

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