Green: The call of the wild

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

I have always been the favorite child of my mother.

At least, that’s been my goal. In reality, in my family, the favorite-child status has been shared equally by my brother and me. The trophy always goes to the one who is far away, who is sick, or who faces a difficult climb. Which is why I want to go on the record and say my older brother is a dirty rotten scoundrel and a cheater.

A few weeks ago, he and his wife packed up and moved to Alaska. To be missionaries. To heal the hurting, give solace to the sorrowful, and pray and process moose meat.

Favorite child deal sealed, for at least three years.

They sold all their earthly goods (with the exception of the hunting rifles; gotta eat, you know), loaded up a single trailer, and drove for 10 days. Through Montana. Through Canada. Through the most beautiful country anyone has ever seen (sorry, Texas). And now, they’re living the life of the called.

They planned their journey to avoid mountainous regions—those are tough with a trailer. They stayed mostly in flatlands until they arrived in Yukon. There, on the treacherous up-and-down highways they found snow-capped mountains and melted-ice lakes and green alfalfa fields for miles. They saw caribou, baby bear, and a herd of bison. And they saw the bluest watercolor skies you could ever imagine. All in the mountains they tried to avoid.

Although I’m currently not speaking to my brother for stealing my trophy in such a low-down, cowardly way, I’m willing to learn from his experiences and apply them to my own life. He spent nearly a week taking the easy path and saw nothing but dirt and wind turbines. When he pressed in to the hard, narrow, winding roads, that’s where the blessings began.

I’m all for taking the easy way. My DNA is coded with shortcuts and loopholes. But when I take a backward look at my life thus far, it’s the steep, rocky places that have been the most glorious.

Financial hardship has brought the joys of simplicity.

Broken relationships taught me to savor solid friendships.

My dad’s cancer taught me to cherish simple, everyday moments.

I’ve spent way too much of my life aiming for the easy, flat places. I’ve avoided conflict. Kept the peace. Played it safe. But always, eventually, the mountains find me. And when I stand at their base, I think I’ll never make it through. I‘m too weak. Too shallow. Too broken to climb.

And that is precisely how God wants me to feel. In the flat places, I depend on my own power, my own abilities to get through. When I’m David, looking at Goliath, I have no choice. It’s depend on God or die. Maybe not a physical death... often it’s an emotional one. Without God, fear kills my spirit and leaves me in a fetal position on the side of the road.

Time and again, God has placed me at the foot of a fortress and said, Climb. Then He’s taken me by the hand, carried me through the roughest spots, and pointed out beauty in bluffs and buttes. In the crags and canyons, I’ve found grandeur and grace.

I’ve reached my highest highs after the hardest, most harrowing hikes. And they were worth it. Every single step.

“I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you,’” Isaiah 41:13.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.