The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Down The Mountain

on May 7, 2012

   My husband has been at his new job for a little over six months.  While it has been an  adjustment to have him away from home four days at a time, compared to what we used to do we are headed in the right direction.  For the two and a half years prior to accepting this new position he worked two full-time jobs.  Yep – 80-plus hours a week – usually closer to 90.  (So when I refer to him as “Superman” I really am not kidding.  He’s incredible.) While many thought we were crazy people, there was a purpose to our madness.  We had been battling up a mountain, a mountain of debt among other things, for several years.  We were ready to conquer that mountain so that we could move on.  It took two years, but we reached the peak. We could see the other side and we were excited.  We were ready to move on.  He found his current position, which provides just a little short of his two-job income but only requires him to work regular human hours per week.  We were poised to leave this mountain behind us!

The first few weeks at his new job were to be a training period with regular daytime hours so we decided that for that time period, unless the weather interfered, he would “commute” every day for a while.  We were so excited to have the opportunity to be a “normal family” for just a little while.  I sent him off to his first day at his new job at 5:15 that first morning last October and joyfully began planning what we would have for dinner for our first night of “normal.”     I was busily getting our meal together that evening (his favorite: chicken!) when my cell phone rang with his ringer.  When I answered , I heard my husband’s panicked and frustrated voice; “The van lost its transmission.”  WHAT?!  Apparently while passing through a small town on the way home he slowed for a stop light which changed to green before he got to the intersection.  When he went back to the gas, according to his words: “It was like the rapture happened – it was just gone.”  No warning. No sign that anything was wrong with it. BAM – dead van.  Great! 

After a tense evening of  towing the thing back to town, formulating a “vehicle shuffle” plan and my husband wondering aloud if he had made a mistake taking this job, we went to bed discouraged.  I sent him off to the second day of his new job discouraged.  I trudged to our family room and got on my treadmill discouraged.  As I walked along I whined at talked to God.  “Lord.” I said. “I thought we were doing the right thing.  I thought we were leaving this mountain behind.”  Suddenly I thought of our vacation last summer.

Last July we took our kids to the mountains in Colorado.  For the trip my generous in-laws had offered us the use of their Lincoln Navigator.  It was much more comfortable for traveling with our now full grown children than our mini van and  – It’s a sweet ride!  We had a fabulous trip: seeing sights, shopping, spending time together, relaxing, exploring.  The last full day of our vacation my adventure-seeking, “Let’s make this memorable” husband decided we should drive up Pike’s Peak.  He had been there as a child and wanted the rest of us to have the experience. 

This might be a good place to inform you that I am NOT a mountain person.  I don’t like heights.  In fact, heights scare me to death and make me “woozy” when they get above step stool level.  I have discovered while riding in the mountains that I am ok as long as my side of the car is “mountain side” but when all I can see out of my window is sky and cliff, my breathing gets funny and it has nothing to do with the altitude.  I trust my husband’s driving, but he hasn’t had a lot of experience driving in the mountains.  We’re from Nebraska.  It’s called a “plain state” for reasons other than the fact that there isn’t much exciting to look at.  

Despite my phobias, we took off up the mountain and made it to the peak with little incident other than popping ears and one case of leg cramps.  It was lovely and I was so glad that I had let him talk me into doing it.  We headed back down.

When heading down the mountain, negotiating the curves and steep grades, they have signs telling you to go to a lower gear and save your brakes.  My husband did that, but when you are in a large SUV in a low gear going down a steep grade, the engine makes TERRIBLE noises, which make you nervous, especially when you don’t own said, really nice SUV.  Heavy SUV’s also roll pretty fast down inclines, even in low gear.  The whole experience was making my husband a nervous wreak.  He’d pop in and out of different gears and tap the breaks when he thought we were rolling to fast.  Pretty soon we could smell hot brakes.  Uh oh!  My husband pulled off at the nearest available spot (wisely keeping his wife mountain side) and he and our oldest son investigated.  Yep, brakes were getting too hot.  So we sat.  My husband stewed and berated himself for dragging us up the mountain.  I was the cheerleader. Everyone else wisely stayed quiet. When the boys decided the brakes were cool enough to go on, we started out again. At the “halfway point” of Pike’s Peak they pull you over to check the temp of your brakes.  They said ours were fine, but we stopped anyway.   I could sense that my husband was reaching the point of cracking from stress.  I couldn’t let that happen because heaven knows I couldn’t drive down the mountain and I was sure not letting the 20 year old do it!  We shopped a little, had a snack, re-gathered ourselves.

Back in the Navigator and back down the mountain, my husband sniffing the air for any tell-tale smells of hot brakes and our son, who works on cars enough to be dangerous, saying, “Are they getting soft Dad? As long as they aren’t getting soft we’re ok.”  We stopped two more times just to check.  Everyone was pretty tense for the rest of the ride. At one point I wondered if we were ever going to get off of that mountain. When we finally reached the bottom, my husband let out a long loud sigh and said, “Next time we’re taking the train. I never want to do that again!”  (I refrained from saying, “Next time?? Are you nuts?”)  That evening we were all exhausted.

So why on my treadmill that morning in October did that particular vacation memory spring to mind?  I’m pretty sure that  the Lord was trying to tell me this: 

Sometimes it’s harder to get down the mountain than it was to climb it.

My husband & I at the top of Pike’s Peak. I made my kids take a picture, because I’m pretty sure they’ll never get me up there again.

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