When you’ve been lost once, it sort of has that, “lightning only strikes once”, feel to it. You start to sense an invincible force within you. You’ve learnt all the lessons, you’ve told the testimonies and you’re ready for God to do new things haha! Right?!…Not quite.
I mean, I truly thought that. I thought it would be cute or whatever to relate with Tauren Wells’ song, Hills and Valleys.”I’ve danced on the highest hilltops, and God has seen me through the valleys!” It’s such a good thing, to be able to testify. Until you get lost, again, in the same place. Just…HOW?
If you’ve read part two of my North Swaka Forest Reserve saga, you’ll know that I got mega lost about 5 months prior to this second incident. Due to my experience, someone thought it would be a great idea for me to go back to the same checkpoint because, “You know this area now”. This time around though, it was for an epic mountain biking adventure race. The plan was for the racers to pass my checkpoint, then I would wait for my two colleagues to join me, before riding on to camp.
Having learnt from before, I was super prepared. I had enough water, snacks for Africa, a book, a rain jacket…a lighter. Just in case, you know? My phone was fully charged and constantly on airplane mode, unless I had an emergency. The only problem was the fact that I was super nervous. Any fears I had about getting lost in Congo had quadrupled, and that wasn’t helped by the fact that as I was riding along, I ran into a man carrying an axe, his son, and his
wild, rabid, dog. It kinda gave me Abraham and Isaac vibes, only I was the potential sacrifice. I know, dramatic. But of course, the trio went on their merry way, and I was really sorry for suspecting them.
My biggest priority was getting to my CP quickly. However, just before I left, someone pointed to a hill in the distance and said, “I’m sure that’s the one”. I should’ve remembered that the hill was impossible to see until you were halfway there. But because I was already in a panic, the hill they pointed to was the one I had my eyes on. So when the path started veering to the right, away from the hill, I was really confused. Is this the right path anyway? I should have been there by now. I might be in Congo, I’m too far from the hill. So many thoughts.
So I made the terrible decision to leave the path, and bundu bash my way to that hill. However, once I got there, it evidently wasn’t the one. But I still wasn’t sure if I had gone too far, or not far enough. And after trying to use my “offline map” to no avail, I decided to leave my bike, (and my backpack!) to explore the hill range and figure out my location. Time wasn’t on my side though, and I eventually resolved to text someone with a, “Hi. I don’t think I know where I am…I’m lost!” I had wasted so much time that I was sure the kids would be there any minute from then, and if they didn’t find me at the CP, it would be a big problem. Extremely, annoyingly, frustrating.
Thankfully, there was still some signal, and they were very sympathetic. So I sent them my location, and was directed to the correct hill. Nearly 1.5km away! But because I had left my bag and bike a way away, I decided to keep running, and come back for them later. Another dumb decision. It isn’t easy to run near a hill. There are brambles, branches, holes and trees EVERYWHERE. It took me twice as long to get there as it would on a path. I finally arrived in the nick of time, as the first group was only 5 minutes ahead of me. And once they had left, the next four groups came through quickly as well.
The experience was too epic for words. You could probably fill a full-length, Bear-Grylls-level-drama, feature film with it all. Fast forward through the confusion of the last groups climbing wrong hills, having to wait for several water-less, hot hours, and pause at the scene of my trying to stay a
live hydrated by feasting on water berries. You would eventually arrive at the bit where we were all back on track and heading in the right direction.
Having had to process so many emotions that day, my breaking point finally came as we were riding up to camp. It was later than we anticipated. And at one point my chain got loose and I had to stop and fix it. This left me not ridiculously far, but separated enough from my team, which resulted in the memories of that day flooding back to haunt me.
I had a minor panic attack. I could clearly see the path in front of me, but I expected it to disappear again….I cried. I complained, and I had to bite my tongue back to keep from cursing. But I eventually caught up with my team. And the first thing I did was call them out. You…Left…ME! How could you do that when you KNEW what happened the last time?!
They were sympathetic, yet caught off guard, because they knew I wasn’t that far off from them, they were assured of the path, and it took me a while to get over myself and see things from their perspective. This experience really taught me how personal healing actually is. You need to take the time to process things and let them go. You can’t keep allowing the past to hinder you from moving forward. And you can’t hold other people accountable for it. God is always in the business of doing new things;
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43 v 18-19
I’m glad I eventually picked myself up from my pity party and my day ended amazingly to a beautiful sunset.
Any situation that is directed by God, saturated by His presence, and seasoned with His grace, will always result in beauty.
Let Him lead. XO