This last weekend I took Easter off (yes, I work at a church and decided I needed a break and took vacation) and headed down to Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains to seclude myself in a cabin with several of my best friends. We spent our days hiking trails, crossing rivers, exploring waterfalls, and eating. While our adventures caused all of us to be a little sore and tired by the end of the weekend, it never stops amazing me how much being out in nature and hearing water rushing touches and refreshes my soul.
One of my favorite things about this weekend is that it was the continuation of the annual vacation with two of my favorite people in the whole world, and included new people in our tradition this year!… I can easily say I cherish this vacation every year. There is just something about being purposeful year after year about carving out time to be around people who know you, know your heart, and love you despite the shortcomings.
There were several times throughout this trip where I felt as though I could literally feel the stress peeling off. Even the stressful points of the weekend (thank you stupid amounts of traffic adding an hour in a half to the trip down) were not nearly as bad because I knew I didn’t have to react or respond any particular way. Nothing was expected of me except to just be me.
Even down to the simplest of things, such as crossing a river. Over and over again we crossed rivers.. Some of the rivers required us to jump, others to balance on logs, and then a few meant getting from rock to rock. Many times I mentally processed through, “I think I can make this alone…” or “I’m not sure I’ll make it across dry, but I have to try..” and then, the guys would somehow always be there extending their hand to help us across. It was such an interesting thing to me that in the midst of figuring out if I could make the trek across dry, deciding if I needed the hand, and then realizing I appreciated knowing that I didn’t have to prove anything and I had the help there to make sure I got across dry.
I did not have to be capable of crossing on my own.
Instead, I could accept the help and know it didn’t make me anything other than exactly who I am.
As simple as it sounds, I realized this weekend that so many times I am naturally focused on accomplishing things, which means, I have to be seen as capable. In order to be seen as able, I often intentionally portray confidence, certainty, and assuredness (is that even a word?). I mean, do not get me wrong, most of the time those are accurate portrayals of how I feel, but in many situations I amp them up for the benefit of those around me because they need to feed off of the confidence of someone else.
What a dramatically different feeling to do something as simple as accept a hand over and over, not because I was seen as incapable of getting across the rivers, but because they knew I would simply feel better with help. The entire thing was entirely simple. But, even more impactful was the fact that I knew they did not view me or going out of their way to help as annoying, frustrating or ridiculous.
I was safe.
In every sense of the word I was safe. The entire weekend I was safe. I could talk, remain silent, laugh, joke, ask questions, walk, sit, sleep, explore, and in all moments I was safe. I did not have to guard emotions or actions, I did not have to decide if it was a good idea to say something; I was simply safe in the midst of some of my best friends. What a profoundly simple reboot… Mixed all of that with the outdoors, being active, and the sound of water, it was pretty much the most perfect thing ever at exactly the right time.