So let me start by telling you how I feel about hiking. First, my husband loves to hike. He’s hiked in places all over the world. He has a Camelback and one of those fancy overnight hiking camping backpack things that strap around your waist. He’s legit.
I am not a natural hiker. I do not have waterproof hiking boots or a fancy tall backpack thingy. When my husband suggests “hiking” as an activity for the day, I wonder why. I ask him where we will hike, as in, what destination do you want to reach? My best hiking moments as a child came when we trespassed (I think) across people’s brush-filled acreage to get to a spot on the river that had amazing little waterfalls. We’d arrive with chigger bites and sunburn and scratches on our legs, but we got to play in the waterfalls. So the whole point of the hike was the water. You suffered on the hike, but there was a good prize at the end. While my husband thinks that the hike is the prize, I wonder when we’re going to make it to the edge of the Grand Canyon or something.
In our goal-oriented culture, it can be easy to believe that marriage should lead to certain ends—a new house, children, the right cars, the best schools we can afford, the right proximity to family, ultimate retirement and growing old together on porch swings watching grandchildren play. And some marriages do actually work out this way, and it’s beautiful to behold. But we don’t actually control the endings. Especially not when we follow God. God’s ways are not meant to fulfill our preconceived perceptions of a perfect life, but to draw us to Himself.
So I’ve learned this: You don’t get married for the end game. You don’t get married for the waterfalls or the Grand Canyon experience. You don’t get married for the cute house and adorable Christmas cards. You get married for the hike. You get married so that you have a partner to walk with you in the valleys and on the mountaintops, to share the load, to be there. It is important to know generally where you are headed and to be on the same page about life goals and dreams and futures, but that’s all tangential to actually walking hand-in-hand down the path God’s set before you. You are committed. Sometimes you will get hurt, and you’ll need someone to help you up, to bind your wounds, to set up camp so you can rest and recover. Sometimes you’ll be annoyed or dashed because your partner didn’t meet your expectations, and so you’ll have to learn how to love and forgive. Sometimes you’ll come to a breezy, shaded clearing with a breathtaking view, and you will both soak it in, hands laced together, because you’ve shared the joy of working hard to reach that joyous gift.
Just as God wants to journey with us through life, our marriages should reflect togetherness in the day-to-day. And as much as I’m not a big hiker, I do think marriage should be more about the journey than the destination. I also still think you can enjoy the hike and the end view. God’s got that view covered, so it’ll be amazing. And if we follow Him along our journey, we’ll be exactly the people He wants us to be when we arrive—transformed, redeemed, sanctified, fearless, fully alive. I’ve been musing on my journey with my amazing man these past few days, and if I truly must hike, he’s the one I pick to go with me. We’ve taught each other a lot these past 16 years.
So until the next post, happy hiking. May the wind be at your back.