Hiking or healing…or both?
What one thing do you and your husband do every day?
A morning cup of coffee?
Dinner each night?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a “one thing” right now because your marriage is difficult. I get that.
A year ago my husband and I made a pact that we’d walk every single day together, hand-in-hand, for one year.
To celebrate that, we planned a ten-mile anniversary hike. Yep. Ten miles without stopping.
And, we did it! A ten-mile anniversary hike.
Dave encouraged me to agree to this goal several months prior. We decided to slowly build up the length of our walks (a good idea!) to prepare for the “big day.” We discussed several route options and chose one near our home that allowed us to explore the countryside. The week before, we drove the route so I could get a feel for it. Dave asked me, “Did seeing the route cause more stress or help you?” Strangely, it calmed me down. (He knows me so well.) I could do this. Maybe.
We planned our snacks, water, clothing, start time, AND our celebration brunch afterward. With it being spring, we looked forward to a sunny day so we’d start no later than 6:00 a.m.
You can’t predict springtime in Colorado.
The day before our scheduled walk, the weather changed drastically. Forecasted heavy rain, sleet, and some snow made us re-evaluate our chosen route. It would be too muddy. We scoured the map for better options and prayed the weather would give us a window since we couldn’t break our streak now.
That morning we woke to dense fog.
We added another layer of clothing and rain jackets and climbed in the truck to head to our new route. Perhaps the fog would clear since we headed toward a lower elevation. Going down almost a thousand feet in elevation should make the walk easier and maybe there would be less fog. At least we hoped.
To make this ten-mile milestone hike, we decided to start out on the right foot.
Literally. Bundled in multiple layers with extra jacket options, snacks, and water in the backpack on Dave’s back, we took our first step on the ten-mile journey—in thick fog.
Fog like this reminded me of Carl Sandburg’s description:
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
At least we had pavement. Perhaps the cat would silently move on as well.
Later I would reflect on how similar this fog felt to walking through our healing recovery journey together.
When Dave confessed his addiction to pornography over thirteen years ago, at first, I couldn’t see anything—not a solution, not a reason why. It was disorienting just like this fog. I knew it looked bad and I didn’t want to have to walk this path.
About a mile and a half into the hike, the fog did move on a bit when the rain started. Slowly, more like a mist, at first, but then it picked up. We paused to toss on our windbreakers over our coats and kept moving toward our goal.
I wish in life we could prepare for the unexpected as well as we did for this hike.
Often when the rain starts in my life I soldier on when I could pause and add a layer of God’s protection for those next wet steps. Now I have a good mental reminder.
Less than a mile later, it started sleeting with a cold wind. I pulled my hood over my knit cap tightly and shoved my hands into my pockets to keep the gloves as dry as possible. Remember this is springtime! Bikers commuting to work hollered, “On your right,” as they navigated the wider stretch of the walkway. We noticed the budding trees while discovering a new Frisbee golf area near a local park.
Could that be some blue sky?
Yes. We pulled the hoods down and unzipped the rain jackets. Maybe the weather would cooperate now.
Not so much. Now about six miles into the hike, the rain picked up, dotted with ice crystals. Sleet. Great! Stopping under a bridge, we switched to heavier rain jackets and grabbed some fluids. The electrolyte solution provided the needed boost.
Then the snow started.
Wet flakes covered my glasses so heavily I decided to walk without them. Weirdly, I could see better. About three miles from our goal, the wind blasted me nearly off my feet. Thankfully, Dave’s strong arm kept me from falling flat.
“Seriously?” I groused to God. “You couldn’t hold off the wind just a few more miles? I’m tired, cold, wet, and now I have to deal with high wind?”
Dave kindly switched sides with me to block most of the wind. Love this man!
One mile to go. The snow stopped.
Even though I was tired, I knew I could finish this. I could make ten miles today. It wasn’t so bad.
Then I saw the steep hill.
Up until this point, we’d walked on hills and flat areas. This is Colorado so hills are common at least in our area. But looking at this hill I felt defeated.
Dave grabbed my hand firmly, nodded at me, and started up the incline. In just 20 yards my calves screamed from the added stretch. Now I felt tired, sore, wet, AND grouchy. No glasses to clearly see where I was going. Cold. More wind. Ugh. Why did I agree to this?
The path leveled out and then went up again. I could see the finish line. There was our truck. Not much farther.
10.6 miles. We did it. Goal accomplished.
We high-fived as we crossed our finish line.
Healing feels like this hike sometimes.
How many times have you felt like you couldn’t see anything? You stand in one spot and wonder where to go, what to do. The pain from betrayal or discovering your husband’s porn addiction swirls around you, making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. You might as well walk in deep fog because that’s what life feels like. Gray. Heavy. A little disoriented. You should know the milestones, but you can’t see much beyond the end of your foot. It’s easy to trip on the path.
Just when the fog lifts and you think you might get your bearings, the rain starts. Little discoveries about hidden accounts, websites, other lies open your eyes to your current reality. Tears of betrayal and anger flood your face. Wet and cold you wonder where you can find shelter. You can’t see the end goal. Is it possible to recover and experience healing? You keep moving, thankful the fog has lifted somewhat, but wondering if you have what it takes to get to your goal. Others go on with life around you, oblivious to your pain.
He confesses the addiction and says he wants help. You breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, you believe you will make it. The warmth of the sun begins to thaw the frozen, wounded places in your heart, mind, and soul. Hope blooms. Healing seems possible. You remember why you started this journey together.
You knew his recovery would take some effort and time. However, when the cold reality hits that you need help as well, you understand this won’t be over in a week or two. Will you make it to the finish line? You may feel discouraged.
As your mind comprehends the depth of your wounds, your heart freezes over. Questions constantly assault every waking moment. How could he do this? What did I do wrong? What’s wrong with me? How could he trade me for something so fake and awful as porn? Just when you thought you were coming out, you discover there’s more.
Though you’ve committed to work through this healing together, the realities of the addiction almost knock you off your feet. Could he lose his job? How do we tell the kids? What about our extended family and friends? Is anyone safe? Thankfully, this windy blast doesn’t last long, but it drains your remaining reserves. Time to find ways to block this wind.
The road to recovery isn’t flat or simple. It’s strewn with pebbles, rocks, boulders, hills, valleys, and even a few mountains. Do you have the strength to conquer each challenge? Even just one more? Do you have the supplies you need for a successful journey? Will you choose to hold hands and help each other through the remaining challenges to reach your goal? While your heart and mind reach for recovery, your energy wanes. Is the battle worth it?
It is worth it.
Our all-weather ten-mile hike reminded me of each step in our healing process. Some days, we feel that cold windy blast again as we deal with a new level of wholeness. God says he provides the way through every circumstance but that doesn’t mean we won’t have to deal with the struggle. However, because God loves you and me more than we can comprehend, He allows us to face these issues when we are ready, not before. I love that about God.
Where are you on your healing journey?
If you need some encouragement, let’s talk. Healing is possible.