There are many who do not understand why we are hiking the Appalachian Trail. Many who do not understand why we must spend so many months out in the woods on our own.
This journey started so many years ago. It requires some open raw honesty to shed some light on the realities of life within our home.
When Ryan and I got married, we brought some baggage into our relationship. Like many other married couples, there were expectations of eachother that could not be met because that baggage existed.
Ryan and I only dated a few short months before we were married. We were strangers to one another. We had shared very little of our pasts with eachother. We did not take the time to cultivate expectations or boundaries in our marriage. And before we knew it, Ryan was off to basic training, which began a cycle of being together and being apart. This cycle did not allow for time to process life, know eachother well, or love each other well.
When hard times would arise, I would yell. I would hurl insults. I would belittle Ryan. When Ryan was gone, and my world would start spinning, my children became the recipients of my vile words. My actions hurt my children. At first, Ryan was able to remain steady, even though the words pierced his heart, and hurt his soul. But after he came home from the war, our home became a battlefield. No one was safe. Our children began to hurl the same vile words and glances at one another. We had times of calm, but looking back they were no more than a mere cease fire. No battles had been won. No one arose victoriously from the chaos. Instead, we all started to to die a little more.
Over the past couple of years, our family has engaged in the hard work of change. We realized the ways by which we were hurting one another, but there is still much word to be done.
While walking along the trail yesterday, I had a thought. My greatest desire is to have the opportunity to really apologize for the ways by which I have hurt those I love the most. I want to confess things that I have done that have pierced the hearts of the offended, even if they do not remember the offense. Real conversations are happening, and will continue to happen. I pray that these conversations will yield the result of restored foundations. It is possible, no plausible, that scars will remain, but if the foundation of my children’s hearts are tended to, might it just be possible that the cycle by which they have been trained, might indeed be broken.
Many might think that time heals all wounds, but really time does nothing to a broken foundation but to bring about the collapse of the structure built upon it. The repairing of a foundation requires intention and scrupulous care. The words “I’m sorry” are often insufficient to the restoration of the hearts foundation. Repentance and a consistent effort to rebuild trust are needed for healing to take place.
The woods are the safeguard around our home right now. We choose who enters our inner circle, just as a foreman tasked with the assignment of repairing the foundation of a historical building might do. Scaffolding and fences would be set up, visitors kept at bay. Not for forever, but for a time, so that the building might then again be enjoyed by generations and generations to come.
How this broken hearted woman, wife and momma, regrets the vile words that have been so harshly and carelessly spoken to those I love! But how grateful that I am to have the opportunity to live life with my husband and children out here in the quiet places, where healing, true healing can take place. There are no distractions, no obligations that would end a deep conversation, and no where to hide from one another either. I might just be the luckiest woman alive to have been given this opportunity. May I take full advantage of it, May the effects of this time out here in the woods be felt for generations to come.