Consider mine in full existence.
Mike climbed Mt. Baker last weekend, and I didn’t handle it well — at first. This was his first climb of this intensity, and it’s a bit of a mystery to both of us. What do we know of mountains? More specifically, what do I know of what they do to men?
I know that they call to men, beckoning them for reasons that escape me. I look at mountains and think, “How beautiful!” Men look at mountains and think “I must conquer you.”
Mike’s sister Wendy is married to a man who has answered that mountainous whisper numerous times. Naturally, I went to her with my nerves bared.
“Worry is futile and unproductive,” she advised. “It’s definitely something I’ve come to understand over time though…so don’t feel like you have to instantly be at peace and calm about your hubby climbing a mountain. It’s a process.”
It’s a process. So it’s fine that I cried after breakfast on Friday morning, when I knew I wouldn’t see him until his return on Sunday night. And it’s fine that I cried after lunch on Friday afternoon, when we said goodbye again, since I needed more than one goodbye. (Believe me; I know how pathetic I sound right now).
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was afraid. Not of Mike’s inability, but of the mountain’s strength. Climbing produces an onslaught of foreign words that sound like causes of death: crevasse, glacier, peak, ice field, snow slide.
Add to this that we have only spent one night apart so far in our marriage (I know, you’re gagging). Add to this that we had just returned from a six day trip in which we had been together 24/7. The result is that the thought of his absence made me feel like a limb was missing.
I guess that’s what I felt all weekend: phantom limb.
So I called my mom on Friday and told her my fears. She listened. Then she asked if I was going up the mountain with him.
“No, I’m not going,” I said.
“Correct. You cannot protect him. But Jesus is walking alongside him all the way up to the peak and right back down. So tell Him to protect our boy and then let it go,” she said, using my three least favorite words in the English language.
Let it go.
Essentially, stop being myself, because I am a control freak.
So, begrudgingly, I did. I told Jesus this was truly His worry, not mine, and I stopped thinking about it.
OK I didn’t stop thinking about it. I just stopped worrying about it. I still thought of him every day, but it was thoughts of missing him, not imagining him falling into an abyss. This was progress.
I also made plans. The last thing I needed was to be home alone with my thoughts, so I called Rachel, Mike’s other sister, whose husband Phil was climbing with Mike. Then we called her mom, because her son and son-in-law are our husbands. So we all felt the same and decided to be together to feel the same.
We went to Anacortes where Mike’s parents have a house, to distract ourselves, even enjoy ourselves, and relax. This was the best possible decision we could have made.
Rachel has been through this worry-release almost as many times as Wendy, so she was a rock for me in my first experience. Just looking at her peaceful expression made me think of the boys less and less often. Instead, I was fully present with Rachel and Colleen, and could enjoy a gorgeous sunset dinner overlooking the San Juan Islands.
I suppose peaceful dinners are one of the fringe benefits of “letting it go.” Who knew?
As I write this, on Sunday afternoon, the boys are not home yet. According to the “SPOT” device they use to let us know their status, they are still OK. Every couple of hours they push a button on this device and it emails us their location. I can’t overstate my devotion to this product.
The boys have a motto when it comes to their climbs: “The summit is optional. Coming home is not.” These are good men.
As for me being a good woman? I’m ashamed of how much effort it takes for me to trust. I want to be the woman who says, “Go! Adventure! Live!” When what I whine now is, “Stay home! Be my security! Never leave my side!”
But that’s not living. That’s not what we were made for. And Mike isn’t my security anyway; God is.
So when Mike gets home, as I trust he will, and I am relieved and happy and filled with hope that my trust was on solid ground — then I must hold onto this trust, learn it, keep it. Because I know exactly what he’s going to say:
“I can’t wait to climb Mt. Rainier!”
Mike, Greg and Phil make their way up the mountain.