A few weeks ago my wife and I went on a nine-day trip to Japan. A friend of ours, Rachel, has been living there for the past five years. We’ve been wanting to visit her there and this past Christmas we finally booked our tickets.
My favorite part was hiking up Mt. Misen. I’m not the most “in shape” person I know. Working out for me is not a good time. I occasionally work out because my wife tells me it’s a good idea.
As Caitlin was planning this trip she told me about this hike up a mountain. I was excited because I love hiking. Even though I don’t like to exercise I love hiking. My family would go hiking every spring throughout middle school and high school. Throughout spring, summer, and fall Caitlin and I go on as many hikes as possible.
As we started our ascent up the mountain, the views were amazing. Caitlin took out her phone and began to snap pictures. She took so many pictures that she had to delete apps from her phone to make room for more.
As I continued to walk up the mountain I began to realize how big this mountain actually was. Luckily for us, about this time, we saw signs for a cable car ride. I thought this sounded like a great idea. Well, Rachel and I thought this was a great idea, Caitlin wasn’t so sure. I was able to convince Caitlin that cable cars are a gift from God. I’m a huge fan of cable cars.
When we got off the cable car we started on the trail again. Caitlin pointed and said, “I think we are going to that peak there.”
I nodded my whole body and I thought, That’s not that bad. Just a little further.
So, I kept hiking, hiking, and hiking some more. After a while, I realized Caitlin was either kidding, which wasn’t funny, or she had miss judged how far we needed to go.
As I continued up each step I waited for the moment when I could finally see this great view. After going up and up and up we finally arrived at a spot when the land flattened out. I thought we are here. Finally, we’ve made it!
I breathed out the largest sigh of relief and accomplishment. I could rest for a minute. I turned to Caitlin and that’s when she said, “Just a little bit more.” Oh hell no! I was ready to be done. The last time she said, just a little bit more, was an hour ago.
I couldn’t stop now. I was so close. We continued on the never ending trail to the top of Mt. Misen. This time Caitlin was right. It was just a little farther. We finally arrived at the top.
There was an observation tower at the top. Walking toward it I realized I couldn’t feel my legs, I thought, this would be really unfortunate if the view isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen. All this feeling I no longer have in my legs would be for nothing.
The view was one of the greatest things I have ever seen. It was so beautiful. I didn’t need to feel my legs to appreciate this. We stayed up at the top for awhile, I needed the rest, but we soon we began to make our descent down the mountain.
The first 20 minutes, all three of us couldn’t stop talking about what we had just seen. I soon notice that I got feeling back in my legs, but with each step down the mountain I felt a sharp pain in my calf.
When you take someone (me), and you have that person hike up a giant mountain, this person will think it’s great, but because the last time this person exercised was around the time Jesus was born, they will begin to feel, as the doctors say, some pressure. My calves were feeling some pressure.
As we headed down the mountain people passed by who just started their hike. As they passed by I noticed their excitement glowing off of their face. I passed them limping my way down to the bottom. My legs were telling me to get their attention. They don’t know what they are getting into. Turn around now, it’s too painful.
This is how I handle pain. I’ve experienced something painful. I have scars. I try everything I can to not experience this pain again because it hurts. I want to do everything I can to help others be safe and not experience the same pain. Pain isn’t pleasant. I want to point to an easier way. Go over there, take the easier path. It’s safe.
The safe route is also no fun. Going this way, I’ll never see the amazing view. The route with no pain is standing at the bottom looking up. Playing it safe is wondering what it might look like from the top.
I used to think I could avoid pain and in avoiding pain I could be safe. Safety isn’t the goal. It feels like a bad thing, like something we should avoid. It’s because of the difficult moments, the painful moments, that I’ve changed, moved and been molded into something new. Without pain, there is no change.
I’m thankful for pain. Not in an I-hate-myself-and-pain-is-awesome kind of way. I’m thankful for pain because out of these difficult moments there is something greater, something better, on the other side. I have to go through the pain to experience the change, to experience a new way, a better way.