Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Give Up

All we wanted to do was take a hike on a nice day.

This was about 15 years ago. I was in Maine with my mom and brothers. I don't believe Dan and I were married yet. We were spending time as we often do at our old family camp on the lake a ways north of Augusta and decided to hike to a waterfall in a nearby town. The morning was beautiful. The idea of a hike seemed perfect.

This should not have been a big deal, even with Andy along. Andy loves hikes and the outdoors. Andy can walk for miles and not tire. Andy rarely acts up on these kind of excursions.

Only that day, he did.

Everything was fine until we got out of the car and actually stepped onto the trail. We had done what all of the other happy little families had done and parked our car on the side of the road in the dirt and headed enthusiastically into the woods, backpacks on, water bottles filled. Only something was upsetting Andy. He started to make his angry growling noises. He didn't want to cooperate. Then he was smacking his hands and whining. We had no idea what was wrong, but plodded on.

Andy was not settling down. We looked nervously at the others hiking nearby, blissfully heading out on their excursions not wondering if one of their companions might suddenly turn on them -- which was what Andy was doing. He had moved from the noisy stage to the grabbing and nearly biting stage.

"He's going to hurt someone," my mom said frantically. "We've got to turn around and get out of here."

And so, after a mere 10 minutes of walking, we turned around and dejectedly yet hurriedly headed back to the car. Oh God I hope no one gets hurt, I was thinking, in-between wondering what the waterfall might have looked like, had we actually made it there.

In the car, (wouldn't you know it?) Andy calmed down. We sat there for a moment. No one really said anything. My mom turned the key.

"I just wanted to take a nice walk and do something fun with my family," she said as we began to pull back onto the road.

That was all she said. The words had weight. I felt the burden on my back, the load, the wondering why this was the way things often went, with Andy. I felt the tears. I tasted them. This was not right. This was not fair. I slumped my cheek against the window and willed myself to stop crying. Then the anger turned to something else. The tears dried.

God, I pleaded. God, if you're listening, I thought, staring out at the Maine summer rushing by, please do something to change this. I need you to show me you are here...please do something now.

Not more then two seconds passed. My mom spoke. She was talking to herself more than anyone. "No," she said in a low voice. "No," she said louder. "I'm not going to give up. We're not going to give up. We can do this. We can't give up. We are going to hike to the waterfall."

My heart was pounding. "God please help us, help him," I think we were all praying, although my prayer had already been answered.

We pulled back into the dirt. We got out of the car. We walked onto the trail and Andy was absolutely.perfectly.fine. Not a peep. Not a pinch or a bite or a growl. Only smiles, as we did the thing he so loves to do.

We saw the waterfall, and it was beautiful. It was 20 times more beautiful than it might have been if we had not left and then turned around.

That night all I could think about was how in my moment of desperation, when every fiber of me had cried out for something, God had heard.

Today I realized that God always heard, but it took my mom being obedient at that same moment to make a miracle happen. Again I was reminded that often our choices are not meant for us only but for those who lives we  touch.

Things weren't always perfect when I was a kid, and Andy made them more difficult at times. But every time my mom scrubbed the unmentionable mess off the walls...every time she marched down to the laundromat in our apartment complex where people would sometimes steal clothes and come back with fresh new baskets for us... every time she would clean a new mess and take time to play and laugh...every time she would play the flute and make songs of worship come alive in the midst of the chaos, she was teaching me something very important.

My mom was quite simply teaching me, as Winston Churchill once famously said, to Never, ever, ever, ever, give up.

Thanks mom.


Crystal said...

Oh, how I love this, because I get it. I can't tell you how many times I've been in that kind of situation, that dejected feeling of just wanting to do something so simple, and it seems so unfair... your Mom is inspiring me to her obedience. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. This touched me deeply.