Have you ever been to the Grand Tetons—those majestic mountains rising thousands of feet from the floor of Jackson Hole, their ragged terrain and year-round glacial patches looking something like the Swiss Alps?
During the past 26 years Joyce and I have been there 20 times. It is our favorite place to be refreshed and enjoy a dramatic reminder of God’s handiwork.
We have fished, hiked many trails and areas where no trails existed, floated the Snake River and waded the various streams in search of beautiful cutthroat trout.
One morning Joyce and I put on our daypacks and started walking up the trail to Bradley Lake. We walked the two miles up the sloping paths and when we arrived we were fresh and rested.
We had limited the number of items we carried with us so the weight of our packs wouldn’t become a wearisome burden. We wanted to walk at a brisk pace, enjoy the surroundings and have energy when we arrived.
Arriving about nine in the morning, we left the trail and walked through the wet grass into the last small stand of trees. We emerged from the woods to find ourselves on level ground adjoining the lake. From there we proceeded to the sandbar.
Taking off our daypacks and coats, we put the finishing touches on our fishing equipment and went to work.
I let the line drift into the current of the small stream at the inlet of the lake; the natural force and pull of the stream took our line. A few seconds later a violent pull vibrated up the length of the pole. The battle was on.
Joyce was as excited as I was. A minute later we saw a 17-inch reddish brown cutthroat trout coming through the clear water.
Landing that first fish was just the start of a delightful morning for the two of us. We hiked through forest and meadows, climbed over downed trees, scrambled over rough shorelines and waded through shallow water.
Along the way we saw many rocks and pieces of driftwood that we would have liked to take back with us. We began picking up some unusual rocks and pieces of wood. But as we continued we realized we were becoming absorbed with collecting.
I had limited how far we would be able to explore and travel. Our daypacks would not be able to contain all we were thinking of collecting.
We also thought about how exhausted we would be carrying all these items back to our car. We than made a wise decision. We put all the items back where we found them. They belonged there and not with us.
Our hike back around the lake was pleasant and not a burden. Had we taken what we thought we needed, our attention would have been upon the weight of what we had collected as it rested more and more heavily upon our shoulders.
It would have distracted us from the beauty of the clear skies, Indian paintbrush and columbine, and the gentle wind whispering through the pine and aspen trees. It was a day to remember.
Many individuals and couples carry a weight around with them unnecessarily.
This keeps them from experiencing life to its fullest. Some are collectors. They collect excess emotional baggage that acts as an anchor hindering both progress and direction.
Some people collect garbage. Some collect stamps. Some collect records and fine art. And some collect hurts!
Many of the hurts we experience we never deserved. During conflict between married partners—which you will have—words are exchanged that penetrate and sometimes change the partner.
Some words are like arrows: they enter the victim and when the shaft of the arrow is pulled free, the jagged point remains to fester and keep the hurt alive.
If you have already been hurt by your partner for one reason or another, I am sure you have wished you could reach back to that painful encounter and cut it out of your life.
The good news for the past and the future is that you can cut the pain from your life. How? It is called God’s grace. He will help you let loose of those painful hurts and move on in your relationship to have the marriage you both desire.
H. Norman Wright is a licensed Family Counselor and child therapist and has taught in the Grad. Department of Biola University. He is the author of more than seventy books