I just got back from backpacking with some of the awesome high schoolers in the youth group I work with. And I noticed something odd, something that has been niggling at the back of my mind for over a month now.
See, a little over a month ago I went camping with some of my middle schoolers from the same youth group. We hiked a 14er (I think I’ve mentioned this before, but that means a mountain whose summit is over 14,000 feet above sea level). Now, this is nothing new; we do this every year. And I am the “in the back” leader, pushing those who don’t necessarily want to go, up the mountain (mostly because I’m one of the slowest hikers I know, so I naturally fit there). Until this year, I’d never summitted a mountain. We’d gotten pretty close at least twice, but never to the summit. But somehow, this year, the group in the back made it all the way up. Craziness. I knew it wasn’t because I was in better shape. Definitely NOT the case this year. I chalked it up to having kids who were in better condition and more willing to hike than in years before.
But then, this last week when we went backpacking, a similar thing happened. Hiking into the camping site, backpacks the size of some of our middle schoolers on our backs, we didn’t stop nearly as much as before. And, the coolest part was, I, personally, didn’t have to stop nearly as much as in the past. Really, I promise I’m not in better condition.
But obviously something’s changed. Whether it’s because the kids needed me to push them less this time ‘round, or there’s less emotional baggage for me to carry, or what, I don’t know. But I’m enjoying the difference.
It’s kinda crazy because other than not using strength to push other’s attitudes aside and encourage them, there really was not much different. Which, I guess goes to show just how every important it is to have good attitudes about everything – and to have people around you who encourage you (as well as you can encourage). When the people around you are only griping and complaining…life gets hard. It’s hard to be the sole encourager; it takes a great deal of emotional strength to do that, which saps your physical strength.
So, I guess my challenge is to surround yourself with people who will encourage you as much as you encourage them. Make it up the mountain with them.