When I left university, I was haunted by the question: what am I going to make of my life now? I had no idea what I wanted or where I was headed, and it terrified me.
This is about the time I started to hike—and hike a lot. There was hardly a Saturday I was not rushing out the door with a backpack of granola bars and my worn-down boots.
I loved it. I took in some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. My hiking buddies and I would talk about art, writing, business, history, and culture… Losing ourselves in moments under the trees.
The forest has a way of making you do that. Every Saturday when I stepped into the wilderness, I let go of worries. And as I escaped upwards, the worry of career and making something of my life got pushed a little bit farther away. It was a beautiful bliss.
After every Saturday hike, I would show up to church on Sunday. For that short window at church, I would stare down reality. I would plea with God, asking Him, what do I do with my life now? Who am I supposed to be? What if I don’t have what it takes to be good at what comes next?
The problem was that I wasn’t really bringing God into my fears. I never spent time listening, and instead, just kept hiking.
The more I was gone, the more my friends started signing off on my availability. They stopped calling me; I stopped calling them. My adventure started to ripple effect over the people in my life, until one Saturday, late in January, one hike sent my world into a panic.
After an early hike around Joffre Lakes in Whistler, our group spontaneously decided to do another hike—another few hours north in the far corners of Pemberton.
It was late when we got there. We put our on headlamps and shoe spikes and headed into the dark hours of the night. We sat for a few hours in the springs, chatting with other hikers and staring up at the stars. No cell reception and clear skies left our heads free of worry or responsibility. The day was ending in perfection.
It should have come to no surprise when we finally drove into cell reception very late that night and the little lights behind my phone screen flashed up at me with aggression. Messages and missed calls rushed in. I opened the first one I could get my finger on.
Where are you? Can you call us, we’re worried.
Hey, I just got a message… No one knows where you are. Call me.
Hey, some people are worried about you. Call your roommate!
Are you okay? People are worried about you.
“They think I’m missing!” I exclaimed to the car.
I dialed my roommate instantly.
“Oh my gosh—I’m so sorry—we didn’t have service—I’m okay—I’m so sorry!!”
A big breath let out on the other side of the phone. A sympathetic chuckle. A reassurance that I was okay and then, “We hadn’t heard from you since this morning… we were really worried, so we called the RCMP and filed a missing person report.”
Sitting on the phone, trying to affirm the police we were okay, was like rushing out of the fog. I looked around and wondered, how I had gotten here? How was I three hours from home and completely out of touch with my friends and reality? I started to think I was not finding myself in the mountains, but quite literally, losing myself instead.
I had been running from the things I was too scared to figure out on my own. Adventure in the mountains, while good on its own, had turned into an escape from the big questions in life that were never actually going to go away.
It’s easy to do that with lots of things in life. We don’t have answers to the scary unknowns, job losses, changing relationships, unanswered questions, seasons of suffering—but there is something profoundly different when God walks through it with you.
God is unchanging, even when we change or circumstances change. He promises good for us. He promises to never leave, even when it’s scary. It takes effort (and not running away) to let it sink in and actually believe it.
When I did finally sit down with Jesus to let Him into my fears and listen for what He had to say, it was an answer that went beyond just this one season in life. More than just, “take this job” or “you’ll be fine”, He reminded me that my value isn’t in what I do or how successful I am. And with that comes peace and release from the pressure to do it all on my own. The more I trust His unchanging truth, the more peace and contentment start to be bigger than all the biggest mountains I may face.