It’s 1AM and I am sitting at my computer writing. I haven’t slept much in 2 days now. Maybe that’s not a lot of days to not get good sleep in a row, but this is me. I am the Queen of Sleep. I usually get 8-10 hours a night, and according to my Microsoft Band, it’s anywhere from 92-99% efficient. Yeah… I take it seriously.
There’s only 2 things that have changed in the last few days: I flipped the mattress over, for one thing. But also, I bought a one-way ticket to Georgia.
I’m gunna say the latter is what’s making my brain reel relentlessly. I bought a one-way ticket to Atlanta, Georgia for March 18th. Upon arriving in Atlanta, I’ll be taking a shuttle to a hostel just minutes away from Springer Mountain. On March 19th, I’m going to put on a 28-pound backpack, turn off my cell phone, and walk due-North.
Tonight it started to rain as we turned the lights off. As I heard the rain pounding on our tin roof I thought, “Oh no! What if it rains? Of course it’s going to rain. Imagine yourself 3 months from now… it’s cold, it’s raining, you’re exhausted from walking all day, it’s raining hard, you’re alone in the woods, and it’s raining really hard. Are you going to be ok?”
Appalachian Trail, I’m coming for you.
Why? “…because it’s never or now.” (It was a good line, Lorelei Gilmore!)
But really, let’s take inventory here…
I have no kids, I’m between jobs, my marriage can stand this time apart, and my spirit is demanding to be fed. So, why not?
I have a reputation when it comes to making big plans: I rarely follow through. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m being honest. I want to go into the woods with a clear conscious. I’ve planned a move to Hawaii that was cancelled in less than a year. I’ve registered for a 100-mile ultramarathon that I stopped training for after mile 30. I’ve started businesses that fell to the way-side after no immediate success. Following through is definitely not my strong-suit. I won’t even mention the coloring book full of pages that I started and never finished.
But maybe that’s the point. It’s time for change. I don’t want to be the person that doesn’t follow through. I don’t want to be the person that has dreams that don’t become reality. I don’t want to be the person that gives up on herself when things get hard.
So I’m going to the woods.
And I don’t have a plan. In fact, I literally have ZERO experience, ZERO gear, and ZERO idea what I’m in for. But I have a ticket. I’m registered. And as of this moment it’s only 74 days away. And every fiber of my being says, “go.”
I have read quite a few blogs on other young, female, solo-hikers who have started and completed the trail. Seems the #1 piece of advice is to write down the reasons I’m going. Because there will be moments when I want to quit, and I’ll forget why I’m out there. It’s in those moments I need to be able to pull out a piece of paper with a WHY on it, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.
“See God for who He really is.
Let myself emerge.
No longer be paralyzed by fear.
To be able to say, I finished it.”
I am aware that most of those are cliche, but I don’t care. Another common term on the blogs is “HYOH,” or “hike your own hike.” And that’s exactly what I intend on doing. Because this isn’t about anybody else. This isn’t for anybody else. This isn’t so I can get a t-shirt or a pat on the back.
This is between me and God. And while I am absolutely going to write about my journey, post photos, and expect a seriously divine red velvet congrats cake upon my return, I am not intending to put another trophy in my case. I am not going out there to prove anything to anyone.
At the risk of driving this point into the ground, this is about more. I need this. (Are the italics helping you catch the sincerity in my voice?!) I have so many questions, so many holes, and so little space here in the life I’ve created for myself to explore the truth. What better place than in raw creation? (Granted, a man-made trail, but the trees, the dirt, the mountains, and the sky, are all His.)
Maybe it’s a lot to ask of a hike. But I have to go find out. Because over the course of the last few years I’ve done nothing but empty myself of everything I thought I knew. We’ve heard the phrase, “be careful what you wish for,” well how about, “be careful what you pray for.” And I have prayed over and over, “God, I want less of me and more of You.” And I’ll-be-darned if He didn’t answer that prayer. Or at least, He’s half-way there. There’s less of me. WAY less of me. My pride is gone, my unforgiveness is gone, my need to prove myself to others is gone, my impulsiveness is gone, my anger is gone, the identity I spent 20+ years hiding behind has been torn away, and all that is left is an empty shell. I’m raw, I’m searching, and I am longing with all of my heart to be filled.
Surprise, Surprise, I like to write. The other day, I opened up an old journal I found laying on the coffee table in our loft. I flipped through the pages and stopped on the entry from New Years Eve back in 2014. Andrew and I had decided to go to our church and bring in 2015 with worship and prayer. I remember laying on the floor, asking God, “…less of me, more of You. I want to know You.” And wouldn’t you know, I wrote His response in this journal, “Go to nature and find Me.”
Two years later and I’ve caught glimpses of Him on a trail run or sitting by the beach. I tasted and I saw. But it was fleeting. I can’t just dip my toes in anymore. The longing is so great that I’m willing to plunge head-first, all the way in. Leaving behind fear, insecurities, and “having it all together.” It’s over-rated and hasn’t really gotten me anywhere.
Maybe it’s crazy. But I don’t think God ever wanted to fit into our boxes of how things should be done. Maybe nothing will change… but, I have to find out. Maybe everything will change… and the years of dying to self and the recent nights of sleepless worry about “my plan,” will all be worth it.
It’ll all be worth it. That phrase makes me smile. It’s bringing me the peace I need to maybe even close my eyes the rest of the night.
I’m not asking everyone to agree with this adventure. A lot of the people I’ve told already, don’t. But I am asking you to support it. And pray for me. And most of all, to love me… whether I am gone for 4 days or 4 months.
I’m just a Regular Person going for a walk in the woods.
More of You, less of me. It’ll all be worth it.