Santiam Pass

By the time I arrived in Sister’s I’d been traveling all day. The weather was perfect. The thoughts in my head not so much. They bantered back and forth between standing strong in the direction I was headed and wanting to crawl back three or four years into my past. The wheels of my Ford Edge kept spinning me forward.

Just outside of Sister’s the air turned cooler, but not enough for me to roll up my windows. With Pandora on ‘shuffle’ my music went from Country to Rock to Jesus and God and back again. The tall Ponderosa Pine cast shadows across the pavement as I continued on my journey, one that started in Elgin seven hours earlier. I had drove away from my hometown with tears in my eyes; sad about a life that had gone through a million changes in just two short years, changes so drastic my marriage was on the edge of divorce. My broken heart felt as if it could never be repaired. I hugged my husband goodbye, and drove away. I drove away from the man I’ve loved since the moment I met him in 1993. I left my home, my hometown, my friends, my brother, my sisters and my dog. My heart was torn into a thousand tiny pieces and I had absolutely no idea how to put it all back together on my own. How will I ever be able to shut the door on this relationship when there is nothing I want more in the world than for it to be strong again. How will I ever pick up the pieces of my heart that lay scattered throughout all of Oregon, a realization I came to as I traveled alone today; memory after memory came slamming into my reality with each passing mile. So many pit stops, picture ops, rest areas, restaurants, hotels, and even simple sides of the road churned up memories of all the times I’d traveled alongside my husband. How in the world will I go on? How in the world will I ever be able to move on when all I want to do is run back to the way things used to be, before his eyes quit seeing me, before his arms quit holding me, before his heart quit loving me.

I climbed higher into the mountains as I thought of all the memories we’d made along the way. There was the family reunion where cousin Troy taught us the game “This is my Stick”. The camping trip with our friends Debi and Dennis made me almost laugh out loud as thoughts of Dustin and Micheal ‘snipe’ hunting and ginormous mosquitoes filled my mind. The corner where we almost died led to thoughts of the other corner where we almost died. The Santiam Pass is not a fun pass to climb during the winter, I was glad it was now spring, we were lucky to escape with our lives on these occasions. Of course I will never forget pulling over at Idanha and tying wire to each windshield wiper so we could take turns pulling the wiper in our direction after the motor had decided to quit working in a downpour.

Something I did not expect happened on my trip up the mountain and over the other side as I traveled alone. I found some peace with my current situation. My thoughts get jumbled when I am near my husband. A force wreaks havoc on my life with him. But as I distanced myself from him and the force he is involved with I, once again, found peace in my solitude. The mountain air cleared my mind in an entirely new way. The heaviness and sadness that has been so much a part of my life for more than two years was no longer with me. I piece of me began to heal as I realized there was nothing inside of me that said to give in, give up, or quit fighting for my marriage. I was just doing like God had asked. I was walking away. He did not tell me I would stay gone forever, he just gave me peace for my temporary situation and I had a complete knowing that it was the Holy Spirit that told me on three separate occasions to ‘walk away’.  Somewhere along the way among the tall trees, or standing beside Suttle Lake, or taking pictures of a snow-covered Mt. Washington I realized I would continue to wait for my husband to find what he was searching for, for God to tear the veil that hid reality from him. Somehow, someway, someday, God would restore my marriage. My job was to grow in Him while I waited. Afterall, if my husband was going to become a husband like I ‘d never seen before, then I better figure out how to become a wife like he’d never seen before. So here I am. A few more miles on my tires, more peace than I have felt for many, many months and the knowing that what I see as my life right now is not the end of the story. God has a plan and I will follow that plan as best I can as he lays out each day in front of me. I will continue to walk by faith and not by sight.

Nature is so healing. Being surrounded by God Himself is such an amazing realization. It’s calming and its nurturing. I felt blessed beyond measure to experience His love for me in an entirely new way today. I know I will come to think of this day as another turning point on this journey. One I probably would not have willingly gone on right now, but I know that when I see what God has in store for me, the journey will be well worth the pain and anguish I have felt for the last 25 months. I look forward to the day when I am whole-heartedly filled with His Joy once again.