Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Helping Hand

After reading the "Tell Me Who I Am" books of essays, I find myself remembering the first essay. In her essay "All We, Like Sheep", Denae Handy writes a hilarious essay about her experience administering medicine to sheep in the Peruvian Andes. She writes funny and detailed description of her experience with seemingly no larger point. However, in the last page Handy takes a simple story and relates a personal lesson she learned. The majority of her essay was not building up to any moral and just made for a great story and I liked how she waited until the end add a more spiritual touch. She began with humor and ended with a moral. In my essay, I imitate that style.

During the summer before my sophomore year of high school I learned that a two mile hike does not prepare you for a 22 mile hike, especially if you didn't even attend the preparatory 2 miler. Let's just say I was not in the best of shape that summer and hiking to prepare for hiking was not at the top of my summer fun list.
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The young men of our ward always went on intense High Adventures: 50 mile hikes, 80 mile kayaking trips and submitting Mt. Everest (not really the last one but you would think they had with all their bragging). My Young Women's president, who was an outdoor junkie, decided that the young women would embark on our own "high adventure". The first attempt was a two mile canoe trip. My canoe partner and I had to be towed to shore. After that "high adventure", we secretly began calling our outdoor experiences "low adventures". However, our next hike would make us bite our tongues. Like really hard.

The trail was called the Pacific Crest Trail. Our destination was a small town near Lake Chelan, Washington. We began the hike on a rather flat part of the trail. With 40lbs packs and 85 degree weather, exhaustion was soon to show it ugly face but the start-of-the-trail optimism overshadowed the impending doom for a while. Our leaders told us the total distance was 11 miles, we would walk five the first day and six the second. HA! That was a joke. At mile five we had all run out of water but I mean its not like water is essential or anything.
"Don't worry ladies, our campsite is just around the corner" said one of the priesthood leaders. Apparently in hiking terms, just around the corner means just around the mountain. The next six miles were unshaded and boiling. Though I received a very nice baseball cap tan, heatstroke was also part of the deal. While most of the group carried on, though slowly, another girl and I stayed behind. We had to stop every few minutes while our leaders shared their last sips of water since we were dangling on the edge of existence. Maybe I am overreacting but that's how it felt at the time. At one point, as I took my painfully slow steps, my head began to spin and my sight became splotchy.

"This is it" I thought. "I wish it didn't have to end like this". I blacked out and fell up against a bush. Apparently, one of the priesthood leaders had a similar experience. My leaders sat me down and fanned me like I was an Egyptian Princess except instead of a feathered fan they used sweaty ball caps and instead of wearing an Egyptian gown I wore an over-sized t-shirt and a bandanna. And not because I was royalty but because incapable of movement. One leader ran ahead to find the rest of the group. They had reached a glacial stream and were frolicking its cool water. Upon request, two willingly came running back to take my pack and the pack of the other girl. As I sat sprawled up against the rock, they briskly threw our packs over the shoulders and effortlessly ran, yes ran, back toward the stream.

In that moment, I should have seen them as my heroes, deserving of all my gratitude. They had willingly taken a huge burden off my shoulders, literally. Yet, I resented them and their ability to do so. I resented their perfect, capable bodies that carried them with no problem. I wanted to be grateful but I wasn't.

It is easy to extend the helping hand but a more difficult task to take it. When offering service to others, you are in a position of experience, abundance or having something to offer. When you are offered service, you are in a place of need and vulnerability.

If Christ stood in front of me while I was suffering and outstretched his physical hand, I would not hesitate to grasp. When he figuratively reaches his hand through tender moments of comfort and prayer, I grasp the peace He offers. Yet, when Christ offers His hand through the hands of others, I hesitate to take hold. Though Christ may not present himself in flesh, he present himself in the physical hands of his servants. We are taught that we are His hands.

The helping hand is a two way street; you must offer and you must accept. On that high adventure (yes a high adventure for it ended up being 22 miles) I rejected the helping hand. Now, I come to rely on it. Besides, I was not alone in my suffering that day. Another girl lied down on the dirt path and began picking out her headstone.


  1. Cool! I like how you introduce your story as Handy does, with an introduction about the setting to your journey, before relaying the points of the plot. I also like the message you added at the end; it is almost inane how we as humans can reject help from others, even though all of it comes from Christ. Nice work!

  2. Great job! I liked that it started out as an average hiking story that grew into a great experience with an awesome lesson at the end. I wasn't sure what moral I was expecting to find at the end, but I was pleasantly surprised with the end result.

  3. I, too, was a little surprised at the message you chose to focus on in your essay, but I liked it and related to it. I thought you did a good job throwing some humor in there. It's hard to balance humor and spirituality, but I think you did a good job. I hope you got to enjoy the spring at the end of the hike!