Monday, June 19, 2017

Inching Forward

I’ve been distracted from blogging for a while (more on that below) so I wanted to write a brief post on some of my recent thoughts. You'll see why in the post below but some of my endeavours recently have been moving more slowly than I would like. This includes the new website I'm working on - there is progress being made and it will get done eventually but it may take a little bit. I want to do it right and as you'll see I only have so much capacity to put towards it right now. Thanks for your patience (as I'm sure you've all been constantly refreshing your browser in anticipation).

I recently did a backpacking trip in Killarney Provincial Park with my friends Matt and Seth. Matt and Seth told me we were going to try to do the 80 km La Cloche Silhouette trail in 2 days – which I thought was rather ambitious, but I figured the mountains there weren’t that high, it was probably fairly flat and it wouldn’t be that tough. I should have done more research. Little did I know it was known as one of the toughest trails in Eastern Canada. Anyway, we finished the trail in 2 days and the scenery was breathtaking. But there were many frustrating points in the journey where we felt like we weren’t getting anywhere or we were in pain and turned a corner to see a large cliff that we had to scramble up. Needless to say, my body felt like death the following week.

Photo credit: Matt Sjaarda. Tilley Hat credit: My Dad.

I don’t say this just to humblebrag but also because the trip gave me some thoughts about grief. I have been frustrated lately about my lack of capacity to do as much and as quickly as I could before. I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic who always needs to be accomplishing things but I like to be productive. My focus, problem solving, memory and overall mental capacity is diminished compared to what it was most of my life. Negative thoughts of Julia’s hard journey and my reality without her intrude less than they did a couple months ago but it still happens a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m back on the La Cloche trail, my knees aching, looking at the map and seeing how much of the trail we still have left. It can be a feeling of hopelessness and loss of control.

This all reminded me of a blog post that Julia wrote on July 11, 2015, Hiking the Alps. She talked about how when we were in Interlaken, Switzerland in 2012 we hiked the Harder Kulm trail high up into the Alps. Julia had a bad cold and was struggling on the tough, steep inclines. We were not prepared as well as we should be with enough food or water (can’t really remember but can almost guarantee that was my fault). The trails were also not very well marked so we weren’t 100% sure we were on the right path. I remember almost wanting to turn back for Julia’s sake but I knew there wasn’t a chance she would give up. So I just told her to take it one step at a time. We both tried to focus on that and on the beautiful surroundings instead of how far away the destination was. And eventually we made it. This is how Julia put it in her blog post, Hiking the Alps(original blog post from August 2012):

During one of our frequent breaks to catch our breath, Andy encouragingly said "just one step at a time". For some reason this somewhat cliche comment stuck with me and some realizations dawned on me. I was too focused on the final destination. So when we turned a corner and only found more steps or no sign of the peak, I got overwhelmed with how much further there was to go and how tired I was! It became really helpful to actually take one step at a time and only watch Andy's feet ahead of me instead of looking further ahead a th steep inclines. It made me think about how God directs our steps in life, but doesn't reveal our whole future. Sometimes I've felt like I just want to know what's ahead in life like who I was going to marry, if I'd get a job, where I'll be in ten years, etc. But in the same way that it was just too overwhelming to look beyond a step in the hike, it would be shocking and just too much to see more of our future. For me, this is another reminder that God's ways are so beyond us and that I need to trust his guiding footsteps. After rediscovering these truths, the next day we read Isaiah 55... check out verses 8 & 9... "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

This is a good lesson for me as I work through grief. I need to focus on the things God has for me at this point in the process, and not just focus on getting to the “other side” of it. It’s a lot of work to be in a totally new place in life that I never thought I would be in and trying to figure out how to live. I need to put the work in and that involves potentially missing out on some other things that I would like to be doing. The whole situation definitely sucks, but I can’t change that. What I can do is focus on the process instead of the destination and make the best of it. It may be a slow crawl but so be it.


  1. A good life lesson Andy. I find these words encouraging, particularly at this time. Blessings, Mary Lou

  2. Thank-you Andy. I needed to hear this today.

  3. I'm so thankful that you're writing your way through this, Andy. Brad and I have been following this blog for over a year and have been in awe of how you and Julia walked this dark road, and how you're still walking it with faith, perseverance, and thoughfulness. We are proud of you, brother.

  4. Such an amazing attitude you have Andy. You are an encouragement to so many. God is bringing you through this journey and will be your comforter. Stay strong we are paying for you.

  5. I needed to read this today. My husband recently had a heart attack which thankfully he is recovering from nicely, my daughter has been sick for about 3 weeks and I've been feeling so completely overwhelmed from just continually thinking about the next day, the next weeks, 2 weeks away...I broke down the other day and cried to God telling him that I wasn't strong enough and I needed help. Then I read this, it seems like an answer to me. Thank you Andy :)

  6. Your words and experience are powerful. Thank you for sharing them so openly. May the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage you.

  7. You are a brave young man, Andy, and your willingness to share your journey helps point your readers to Jesus. I'd say you are right on track, exactly where you are supposed to be, not one step ahead, not a step behind. Just exactly where God would have you be. Don't let the Enemy fool you into thinking otherwise! May His Shekinah glory fill your soul today.


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