(You can read part one of this series here.)
I believe that Crossroads was put in my path (no pun intended) because I needed it.
I just got finished saying that I don’t fully know why I did it. That’s because it takes me a heck of a long time to process anything. (You can ask anyone I walked with how true this is. I was the most indecisive person on the walk, by a long shot. In fact, we thought about having a week when Mr. Philosopher (Peter) couldn’t philosophize and Ms. Disney (Kirstin) couldn’t talk about Disney and Ms. Indecisive (yours truly) had to make all the decisions. It didn’t happen...) We all took the Myers-Briggs test during week 2, and I came out as 100% introverted each and every time (I took it 6 times because I didn’t trust my own answers). Wait. So I did a walk, with strangers, where I had to talk to people at Walmart about my mission every time I went to buy peanut butter, and I’m an introvert? whyyyy????
Because I needed a challenge. And I didn’t know that I needed it until it was over.
Oh, now naive I was at the beginning! I expected the physical challenge, but not once did I think about how emotionally and spiritually draining this summer would be. I shared some of these challenges already, but I want to do so in a little more detail now.
The physical strain began right at the beginning, week one. In the course of 5 days, we walked through the city of Seattle, along the highway, over the mountains, and began entering the desert. We reached the highway on the first day. It had been drizzling all day long, but as rush hour hit, the rain got harder. We had no rain gear with us, and after about a mile, we gave up avoiding the 3-inch-deep puddles, stopped flinching when we were hit with water as the semis drove by, and embraced the squoosh of our sneakers. Paired with the fact that we (Josh and I) drank over a gallon of water that shift, necessitating frequent stops at restrooms, we were quite uncomfortable. Later in the week, we conquered the mountains. Although it was late May, the snow had not yet melted, and we could see our breath as we walked through some snow. Pressured by the fact that this stretch of road would be dangerous in the dark, we pushed to finish over 30 miles each day.
It was a few weeks later that I asked myself, “Why the heck am I doing this?” for the first time. I guess it had something to do with the fact that we had re-walked a section of windy road, through a ravine, that day shift had already finished for us. It was partially our fault, partially their fault, and neither group was thinking that day. It had been a difficult night, and when we discovered our mistake, we were all ready to just give up. When we tried to sleep in the van after we walked, an animal outside kept us awake the whole time. We all got about 45 minutes of sleep that night. Yet we had to remember what, who, we were walking for. It’s the sacrifice that we’re there for, and we had to embrace that suffering.
Each one of us had our moments of physical weakness. One member of the group had to go home not once but twice because of health challenges. Another member had a serious cold for a couple weeks. Someone else’s foot got infected, shin splints weren’t uncommon, and blisters were abundant. I had a sort of allergic reaction to some sausage and spent a night pacing in a Walmart parking lot, and later got heat exhaustion twice.
During this time, I learned perseverance. I learned the value of suffering, especially in silence. There is a difference between saying, “Gosh, my legs are killing me!” and giving a mile-by-mile update at how badly you ache, how thirsty you are, how you can’t wait to just go to bed. Hearing a constant update would be tremendously discouraging, and while you’re suffering anyway, the last thing needed is discouragement.