By Kaleigh Ward
I jumped off the scale, plugged the numbers into my calculator, and gave a shout of victory. “35.8 pounds! My big bag only weighs 35.8 pounds!”
I danced a happy jig and proclaimed my joy in a Facebook status.
Then, I looked down.
There, staring back up at me, were my Eno hammock and Eno bug net. Uh oh.
I hung them on a luggage scale and held my breath… “5 extra pounds? 5 pounds?! That puts me over 40 pounds!”
I deflated like a popped balloon and sunk to the floor.
Most airlines have a checked bag weight limit of 50 pounds. Some have a limit of 40 pounds. From day one, I’ve had a goal of 35.
I have a small frame and didn’t want to weigh it down more than necessary.
I wanted to embrace minimalism.
I wanted room to buy a few things without panicking about weight limits.
I had a choice to make: give up my weight goal or give up my hammock. There were no other non-essentials I could remove to lighten the load.
With that realization, I quietly set down the hammock, walked calmly to my room, closed the door, laid face down on my bed, … and cried.
It didn’t seem fair. I had given up so much already. My hammock was the only non-essential item in my big pack. It was my comfort item, my “get away from everyone and retreat here for a while” item. I didn’t want to let it go.
At Mom’s gentle prodding, I went out to our back porch to spend some time with Jesus. The fan produced a perpetual cool breeze. My dog curled up at my feet. My eyes gazed out at our back yard.
I slipped in my headphones and played the song that has been my anthem since I committed back in November.
“You say let it go. You say let it go. You say life is waiting for the ones who lose control. You say You will be everything I need. You say when I lose my life, it’s then I find my soul. You say let it go.” (Tenth Avenue North – Let it Go)
As tears made their way down my cheek, God showed me what was really going on in my heart. See, a hammock isn’t going to make or break my race. While it might be nice from time to time, the greatest memories will be made when I’m not in it. I don’t need it to achieve rest or joy or peace, for those things are found in God alone. I would spend far more time carrying it than resting in it. Thousands of missionaries have come and gone who never owned an Eno hammock and bug net.
No, this wasn’t about a hammock. This was about accepting a new lifestyle of full dependence on God. This was about coming face to face with the reality that I am leaving behind every comfort in pursuit of Christ. This was about recognizing that, from now on, when I want rest or joy or comfort or peace or anything else, I will be turning to Jesus instead of my family or my boyfriend or the solitude of my room or a stroll through Greenville or… an afternoon in my hammock.
As I sat on the porch, I chose to embrace this life I’m called to live. I chose to let go of the hammock. I chose to not spend any more time pouting about what I’m leaving behind. I chose to anticipate all the beautiful moments this year will hold—the mornings I scoop up orphans in my arms, the afternoons that I spend hiking through mountain villages to share the Gospel, the evenings where I am surrounded by worshippers who sing in languages I can’t understand.
I began to recognize that even the hard times will be beautiful because they will bring me to the foot of the throne of God, and there is no sweeter place to be.
As I worshipped and embraced dependence on God, peace flooded my soul.
In that moment, in that seemingly-insignificant decision about a hammock, something in me shifted.
For weeks, I have been focused on the preparation and the painful goodbyes. Now, I am finally thinking about the race itself and everything I will gain this year—the experiences with my teammates, the intimacy with God, the wild adventures, the beautiful people.
God, in His provision and grace, is clothing me in readiness and peace and joy.
I have two days left in Camden and six days left in the United States.
This trip is happening whether I choose joy or sorrow so, by God’s grace, I’m choosing joy!
I’m ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
I’m ready to race.