I began my drive northward three days ago, towards Washington state for my second field season of this Forestry Odyssey. First was a stop to visit the amazing friend and adventurer I lived with last year while working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Side bar – this girl is a STUD. An incredible athlete, thru-hiker, trail runner, and outdoor enthusiast. She is also incredibly hospitable, patient, an amazing cook + foodie, and has the sweetest heart you’ll ever find. She is brave and kind, and that is a hard combination to find. She is a gem…and that is an understatement).
We planned for a one-night camping trip in the wilderness, which we altered slightly due to a thicker snow-pack than expected, and then returned to our vehicle to find it broken into – wallets stolen.
I was then faced with the reality that I now had no phone, no license, no cards to access financial means of any kind…and several other important items were also stolen, which are dangerous in the hands of a stranger. And all of this while moving from one home to another. My friend had to additionally deal with her car insurance company and a busted window – interior of the car filled with glass.
We launched into action mode to attend to all of the theft issues, but when the dust settled later, and the adrenaline gone, the day became even heavier.
The greatest difficulty for me was calling my parents to alert them to the issues. They were, understandably, highly concerned – and they were already pre-loaded with anxiety about their daughter driving herself to a new home far from “home.” This just became confirmation to them that I shouldn’t be doing this on my own.
Emotionally I was bummed and a little stressed about the stolen goods (but a flip phone? I mean…really, good luck with the resale value there), but talking with my parents and realizing just how much worry I cause them completely destroyed the emotional stability I had left. The day became one of the most trying in my living memory…I don’t think I have cried that much or that hard in a long time…or maybe ever?
I wasn’t crying about the stolen items (although all of them are certainly upsetting) – God was actually pretty awesome in providing me means to quickly solve most of those issues in a single day, in about 5 hours time really. The events were more a catalyst to a lot of emotions that were brewing under the surface for my family and myself.
I realized just how hard it is for me to know what is right. When is choosing a path that I feel drawn to is right and when is selfish given how much pain it causes those who care for me most, most especially my parents? Am I just calloused to just “go my own way,” knowing how hard it is for them? Couldn’t I find another means of fulfillment that would cause them less concern for my well-being? I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe we never do.
The tearful phone conversations I had with my parents that day actually brought a lot of insight and growth. First, while this event could have been interpreted as a sign of “you should not be doing this…you should go back to what you know” – it became more of “when you fall off the horse, you got to get back on.” My parents were rather insistent that one of them come to accompany me on the rest of the drive. I was surprised at how angry I got at this idea, at their insistence for it. It is not that I didn’t understand their desire to do so, but it almost made me sick with fury, and I wasn’t sure why. But, while crying on the phone, it suddenly came out – “I am so tired of not believing in myself!”
I didn’t know I felt this…or not quite in this way. But, I discovered that having so many important identifying items stolen from me was a sort of Spiritual attack on my frail self-confidence and, to have one of my parents drive with me now would cause that self-belief to fissure in a significant way. This was a road I needed to go alone, to prove to myself that I can fall down but get up and keep going, that I actually do have grit.
Anyways, God can make good out of the painful, and this situation was indeed painful, but brought good things. It brought a very raw and honest conversation with my parents, brought me to new revelations about myself, and actually drew me deeper in fellowship with the friend who suffered the trial with me.
I am deciding to look back at the last few days and remember the beauty of the trip I had with my friend:
I am deciding to now focus on the beauty of the road ahead (here are some pictures of the road trip so far):
I am deciding to “pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear” :