#@$! There’s that tree. Again!
I sigh and sit down on a nearby log and look up at the sky, as if the angle of the sun could somehow magically point the way. No stars. No compass. Just this same stupid place that I keep circling back to somehow. Over and over and over again…
I used to face a chasm of unknown, every year. Every time I moved to a new town I would still be here. Yay. Job hunting. My favorite sport. When I stopped moving, I thought my troubles would be over. Something permanent, stable. The economy had a fun surprise for that one. Then it was first hired, first fired—well, pink slipped, anyway. I would stand yet again at the edge of scariness and look down, wondering how long I would have to wait until I could spot some hint of a bridge that would take me across. God always came through—eventually. It was usually long past what I thought my endurance could bear. I used to joke that I felt like I was in Remedial Life 091. This chasm was my final exam, and trusting God completely was the only correct answer. I had to keep retaking this exam because I never seemed to pass. I wondered when I would get to Real Life 101.
But now I wish I could go back to Remedial Life. The chasm exam was a snap compared to this. Now I am lost in this forest—trapped. I know enough about survival to know that the key is to stay calm. I take a deep breath and try to get through the next few steps, but then I realize that all the trees look the same and the only definable landmark is that same #%& tree telling me that I am still here. Stuck. No escape. Then I feel my chest tighten with panic and I can barely breathe. I have to grab onto a nearby tree to steady myself as the floor of pine needles goes all blurry.
I cannot cry again.
Get it together.
But I can’t think anymore. My thoughts have gone round and round in circles in my brain, (Yes, I have an analogy for that part too.) I can’t see a way out. There is no way out! My throat starts to close and I feel the adrenaline kick in.
No! NO! There must be a way out!
I don’t want to live in this forest! God, please!
I can hear the voices of my friends telling me that nobody should have to be stuck in the forest. God doesn’t want us to be miserable. He wants us to be filled with joy.
I can hear the voices of my family and pastors and authors of Christian books—God wants us to honor our commitments. He never said life would be easy. Marriage is a covenant—an analogy to the world of God’s commitment to us. And a contract should not be broken. My boss relies on me and those under my care rely on me. Sometimes that is all that keeps me going and sometimes it feels like that’s what’s killing me. The needs and demands so far surpass my abilities…A file clerk might not change lives, but neither does he/she spend 98% of the day feeling grossly inadequate. 2% isn’t much for my self-esteem to subsist on.
I don’t know. All I know is I am sick to death of that same stupid tree with dead branches and this stupid squishy muskeg. I’m exhausted, my shoes are wet, and I’ve been bitten by thirteen thousand mosquitoes. I think they’ve taken more blood than they’ve left. Stupid mosquitoes. It’s bad enough you steal my blood, did you have to make me itch on top of it?
My fault. If I had been properly prepared—made the right life decisions—I would have remembered to apply Cutter and lace on hiking boots. Scratch that. (No pun intended) If I’d made decent life decisions I wouldn’t be in this stupid forest in the first place.
Huh. Would you look at that? Low bush cranberries and bear berries. Well, that’s something, anyway. Of course they’re super sour, but…I guess it’s not a total loss.
Thanks God. A GPS would have been better, but…thanks just the same.
I sigh again.
If I had a nickel for every time I sighed, I’d make Bill Gates look lower middle class.
I sit, trying not to scratch the mosquito bites or think about my cold, squishy socks and how lonely and scary it feels to be so far away from basecamp. If there was somebody nice sitting on the log next to me, joking about how attractive the swamp spruce are and what a lovely place this would be for building a summer home…it wouldn’t be so unbearable. But again…life choices.
So I take out my Bible and it falls open to the bookmark, which is in the same place as always. My Bible would probably fall open to that page anyway, or to James 1, because I’ve read them so very many times…over and over and over…
2 Corinthians 4
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”
Perplexed but not despairing. That is the part I relate to the most, although the “not despairing” part fluctuates now and then—by which I mean to say every five minutes or so. Perplexed but not despairing. That reminds me of a quote from Daniel Boone:
“I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was once bewildered for about three days.”
Yes, that’s it, except that my bewilderment seems to last a lot more than three days. I sigh again, (that’s $.15 and counting. Actually it would be more like $1.15 because I didn’t type it every time I sighed. That would get tiresome. Perhaps it’s better that my English accountant isn’t here listening to it. He probably would keep a running total and charge me a whopping fee for making him endure it. Still…I miss him.)
Better keep reading.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Temporal. Yes, this is temporary. How temporary remains to be seen, but…if you think about it, everything is temporary, even life. I can’t say I’m super torn up about that one. Most days I wish I could fast forward past this life on Planet Earth crap and get to the good part, the part that isn’t temporary. Heaven will be nice. Way better than base camp. Focus on that. In the meantime, if I could just find the correct trail…
I guess I’ll try hopping the creek and following that line of birch trees.
Well, Mr. Stupid Tree, here I go. If you see me again, you’ll know it was the wrong way.