It’s always hard for me to fathom, but there are people that love the summer heat. They adore the sun, love to sweat, and don’t mind the humidity. I love them, but I simply cannot relate. If ever there was a season to forget, summer would get my vote. The heat makes me cranky.
One of my friends, who adores summer, asked me to hike recently. We decided on an early morning hike to beat some of the heat, and headed to a conservation area with hiking trails.
There’s also three creeks that run through the area and the trails cross over the creeks in different spots. Some years, especially during times of drought, it’s just a dry rockbed and easy to cross. Due to the rain a few days earlier, all the creeks were flowing on this particular morning and it took a little more planning to get across.
On the first creek we crossed, we tried to balance precariously on some rocks on top of the water. They were not well spaced, some were even mossy. We even threw a flat, heavy rock into the water to make a more even step about halfway across. I went first.
The first rock was great, but the second step was wobbly and the third slippery. I barely kept my balance. I stood motionless for a while trying to assess if it was better to go back or to keep going forward. The last rock was a big, solid one, but it was a long jump to the shore. I made it! My feet stayed dry, but my heart was racing.
When we got to the next creek crossing, there weren’t enough rocks above the surface to make a dry crossing. My friend quickly assessed and then just started walking through the creek with her shoes completely under the water. She seemed strong and steady.
I was hesitant. Wet shoes and socks don’t make for a fun hike, but I couldn’t see an alternative. I decided to take the same path and, even though my shoes were wet, it felt more steady and secure than our last rock-hopping plan. By the third creek, we trudged right through like seasoned champs and never even skipped a beat.
Crossing the creeks started to make me think about how I handle things in my life. I’m often not prepared like I should be. I come up to things and, especially if they make me uncomfortable, I start thinking about how I can skip precariously around it or avoid it all together. I stumble, I slip, I struggle. Through it all, I doubt myself, especially if I’m on the right path, and then I start making plans to get back to the comfortable stage as fast as I can.
In this summer of uncertainty, I feel God asking me to go deeper. God’s not asking me to stay on top of the rocks and pretend I’m safe, but to get into the water and submerge myself. To put my whole foot in. To keep walking forward. To keep moving toward new things. I think God’s also asking me to sit in the uncomfortableness because that is where we learn and grow. God knows my penchant for pretending I’m safe when the world really needs more people to be present and engage, to lend their voices and actions in love.
I’m thankful my friend showed me that day in the creek that we can wade right in — even when we’re unsure. I’m thankful summer makes me understand that we can appreciate the heat — even when we’re uncomfortable.
I’m thankful God teaches me we can still love — even when we’re scared. We’re all learning how to do better and be better in this season.
Heather Feeler is a big ole’ work in progress. She tries to love big and have gratitude for each day, but sometimes she falls short.