shedding

Unnecessary Stops

When traveling with my camera, I find it difficult to not stop every time I see something beautiful. Just about any time I step outside, I have an urge to record the beauty with whatever photographic device I have at hand.

So you can imagine my dilemma when we started our drive through Banff National Park. The fuel gauge hovering on empty dictated our first stop, and we discovered the major difference between Canadian National parks and U.S. National Parks.

Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, you name it—every park I’ve been to in the U.S. has a community near the entrance where one can purchase gas and groceries. Gas stations sit on large lots so fueling up with a truck and trailer poses no problems. Ample parking spaces with oversize slots litter the landscape. Even the parks with small villages within the park offer services—and parking. Convenience trumps coziness in each of the U.S. parks.

In the three Canadian parks we visited, one could see that the community planners spent a lot of time on the architecture of the entire town. Picturesque shops and hotels snuggled together on narrow streets reminiscent of Bavarian villages. Gas stations sat on postage-stamp-sized lots. We had to wait in the street blocking traffic for five minutes in order to take our place in line to fuel up. (Note to self: If pulling a trailer, fuel up before hand!) Coziness trumps convenience in Canadian parks.

After our fueling fiasco, I worried that the rest of the park would prove just as inhospitable to stopping.

So Many Pullouts, So Little Time

I needn’t have worried. Canadian park designers have done a marvelous job of providing pullouts along the way to view wildlife (not all of them spacious, of course). My need-to-stop-every-time-I-saw-something-beautiful warred with our need to make it to Alaska before the end of the week.

Fortunately, we had agreed ahead of time that we would stop for bears, moose, mountain goats, and one hike. Our hike up Parker Ridge provided ample views of breathtaking proportions (and a few stunning photographs).

In all my hiking on mountaintops over the years, I always came across white tufts of hair flying from low bushes. I knew the hair came from mountain goats, but I had never seen one up close before. I had hoped my luck would change on our hike, but alas, it didn’t.

unnecessaryForty-five minutes after we resumed our trip, Pedro spotted mountain goats right next to the road. I whipped out my camera and started snapping photos of the nine goats. The adorable babies looked so soft and fluffy that I wanted to reach through my camera lens and pet them.

The teenagers looked cute, too. But the adults? Not so much. Huge hanks of fur hung from their shoulders, as if someone had started shearing them but they escaped in mid-process.

I could practically see their skin in the patches where the four-inch long fur had fallen off. The undergrowth looked clean and short and sort of fuzzy. Clearly, the babies stole the show, but my mind kept wandering back to the adults.

Their warm winter coats protect them from subzero temperatures and the harshest of harsh conditions in a hostile environment. When summer rolls around, their thick coats become unnecessary. If they didn’t shed them, they would overheat. The process might not look beautiful, but without the shedding, they wouldn’t thrive.

Resisting the Process

All too often I resist the process of shedding the unnecessary in my life. God sees things in me that only mattered for a season, and he gentle tugs away at them. I cling tightly to attitudes, opinions, and traditions, unwilling to shed what feels comfortable and necessary.

Seasons of change within me rarely look beautiful. I don’t like the frumpy feeling of shedding—of trying to figure out what God’s next best version of me might look like. I expect God to just shear away the old junk and make me look like a newborn kid. More often than not, the process takes time and adjustments and I get stuck in between the seasons.

Seeing the mountain goats reminded me that I shouldn’t fear shedding the unnecessary. I need to let God pull away the layers. Shedding doesn’t hurt; clinging to the unnecessary could endanger my life.

While no one would classify a shedding mountain goat as ‘cute,’ other adjectives come to mind: majestic, beautiful, wise, and dignified. As I grow closer to God, I need to remember that only babies are cute. I want to grow in grace and inner beauty and shed the unnecessary.

Beauty Tip #8: Don’t fret about the shedding process. Growth produces beauty.

Q4U: Have you ever felt the frumpy feeling of change and growth in your life?

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