A few weeks ago my now ex-girlfriend Kimberly (not her real name) and I decided to hike to Table Rock, an elevated plateau behind downtown Boise. You can drive to the top (that’s how I “hiked” it my first time), but for the true hiking experience the trail head starts at the Old State Penitentiary. (I posted previously about my first visit to the Old State Pen.)
Neither of us was exactly fit. Kimberly talked about exercise but never translated talk into action. So a hike with a 900-foot elevation gain (modest by many hikers’ standards, BTW) was going to leave her breathless.
I do exercise, but have you met my companion Exercise-Induced Asthma? Walking a level grade I’m perfectly fine. But I’m huffing after climbing just one flight of stairs. I’ve made modest improvement with diligence to exercise, but my condition still limits what I can do. I get out of breath so easily. So a 900-foot-elevation-gain hike puts me in the same camp with Kimberly.
We took the first part of the trail rather easily. The real climb seemed to come about halfway along the trail. Our resting stops became more frequent and lasted longer. I accepted that, having learned long ago acceptance makes room for gains.
As the trail grade became more arduous, I saw Kimberly struggling to continue. Pointing to a small tree a little ways ahead, I suggested we go that far and then rest again. She agreed the distance was doable. Off we set. I kept encouraging her to keep going and not stop until she reached the marker.
While we rested after we reached that marker, we surveyed the trail a little bit ahead and selected a new marker. We repeated that all the way to the top.
Lots of people shared our idea of how to spend the day. Most on the trail simply passed us by. Towards the end of our ascent, two hikers noticed Kimberly having difficulty and asked if she was OK. She appreciated their offers, but her real appreciation was for the one who walked with her to the end.
The steepest part of the trail is right before the end. I reached out my hand, inviting Kimberly to take it and walk the last part of the journey together. Relieved to have finally made it, we sat, rested, and refueled before returning the way we came.
We’re all on a journey back to our heavenly home, but the trail is challenging. We do appreciate those few travelers who notice us, but most ignore us. Feeling a lack of support in our journey can tempt us to stop moving forward. The end just seems too difficult to reach alone. It requires more from us than we think we have.
But if we shift our focus from the top of the trail to the next marker just a little ways in front of us, we find we can reach that marker and then rest to gain strength to go a little bit farther.
Maybe that means improving ourselves in some seemingly small way. Working on replacing less effective habits with more effective ones is like going to the next marker on the trail. Any trail is tackled one piece at a time.
Yes, there will be times when the trail gets really steep and difficult to travel alone, times when we really need someone to reach out to us and say, “Take my hand, and let’s walk this part together.”
That’s why we need to view singles groups as networks of support and not dating forums or activity clubs. That’s why we need marrieds to walk with us. That’s why we need to work together to build Zion. After all, Zion won’t exist unless we all, marrieds and singles, embrace a true unity of the faith.
Want this to be real? You must start with you. Most singles want support networks, but they aren’t being that. Most marrieds, if they think about anyone at all, think about people like them. If you want that to change, then first you must change you. You must be the change you seek.
Like the trail to Table Rock, the way will get steep and difficult to climb. But you don’t make the ascent in a single step. You make it one piece at a time. Moving forward requires no more than small motions. You can always rest and begin again when you’re ready.
I invite all Latter-day Saints, single and married, to take my hand. Let’s embrace a true unity of the faith. Let’s walk together, singles and marrieds supporting one another amid the trials and adversities of mortality. Let’s change ourselves and come together. Only together can we truly be everything the Lord wants us to be.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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