Go ahead and ask my husband. You’ll see him smirk, nod, and shrug his shoulders, but he will totally agree that ever since he’s known me, I could be described as a very headstrong woman who knocks down walls and asks questions later. I know there is another term for that kind of personality, but it’s a phrase that isn’t allowed in genteel society so I’ll try to keep it clean. Usually my husband just calls me headstrong. Being that way has come in handy sometimes. It got us through sticky budgets, sick kids, and bridging house purchases. But sometimes being headstrong can lead to disaster and God has had to remind me of my humanness by sending me a “Durango Moment.”
The Durango Moment is what my husband and I call that moment when you literally feel God’s hand on your shoulder and a voice saying, “Wait a moment.”
The original Durango Moment happened when we were visiting Colorado for the very first time. We were experiencing some hard financial times, but we decided to take the kids on a vacation anyway and not just any old vacation. We don’t usually do the usual camping or staying-with-relatives-type vacations; the infrequent times we did go somewhere it was usually a beach. The ocean has a nice, calming effect on your heart and head. But this time, instead of going someplace quiet and calm we decided to head some place we’ve never been: Colorado, and do something we’ve never done: whitewater rafting and exploring Pike’s Peak.
Yes, my friends, I see your heads shaking and your disbelief. Even now I feel the same way. Somehow the stress we were experiencing in life had pushed us over the edge. You are going to take your children, ages, 17, 15, and 12, on a dangerous mountain river in a tiny raft? And that’s not all — did I tell you I am also a little competitive? It generally goes along with being headstrong. My younger brother had taken his family to Pike’s Peak and driven all the way up the narrow, winding road two years before our trip. I, of course, was not going to let that challenge escape me without also taking my family up the same narrow, winding road. I should say it was my husband whom I convinced to drive that road. He might say browbeat, but I think he is being just a little overdramatic with that choice of word.
Anyway, the whitewater rafting part of our adventure came first, but that, dear reader is a story of Durango Moment versus headstrong woman that will wait until another day. This is about the Durango Moment I actually listened to for once, and I still get slightly chagrined to this day when I think about it — because if I had listened to my dear husband, we would not have begun this part of the adventure in the same way.
It began the day after the wild ride down the mountain river and to say we were maybe a little edgy from that trip would be an understatement. Yet we had survived and driving up a mountain road seemed (at least to me, who wasn’t driving, mind you) a piece of cake. My husband, who WAS driving our Dodge Durango up a mountain, thought otherwise and must have repeated, “Are you sure?” several times on our way to the entrance of the drive. We stopped at the booth marking the entrance onto the official Pike’s Peak road. The forest ranger looked at us and asked, “You driving to the top?”
“Yep, that’s our plan,” my husband replied, looking at me as I nodded my head vigorously.
“Well, just to let you know the weather up there is beginning to turn. It might get a little ugly.”
But as my husband turned to me with a question on his lips, I waved, “No problem! Thank you!”
Taking a deep breath, he rolled the car forward and onto the blacktopped road. The scenery was beautiful; flowers in alpine meadows, trees, animals. The kids were chattering away, looking out the windows and taking it all in. I was yakking away, saying how I looked forward to the hot chocolate and donuts that awaited us at the little store at the top of the mountain. The road turned this way and that, and just when we noticed the trees and grass thinning out, the road changed from pavement to dirt and gravel. My husband slipped the car into a lower gear.
I noticed the sun had disappeared and clouds began rolling around us and ahead of us: not cute puffy clouds, but darker ominous clouds. As we came around a corner, a signed loomed ahead, warning us of road work. In another few feet, the sky darkened again and as I looked up at the top of the mountain, I saw a fog bank literally rolling over the top and down the mountaintop towards us.
Suddenly we heard the sound of machinery in front of us and that beeping sound they make when they are backing up. Only we couldn’t see any machinery because it had suddenly gotten foggy on the road itself, making it almost impossible to see two car lengths in front of us.
In that moment the entire car went stone cold silent. Even the engine seemed to quiet down as we could only hear the crunch of the gravel under the tires and that beeping sound. Was there machinery backing down the mountain toward us? We didn’t know because we could not see!
My husband rolled the car to a stop in the middle of that tiny dirt and gravel path. We looked at each other, both our faces so pale we looked like ghosts. My husband will give me anything I want; he was the perfect husband throughout all my pregnancies and births, always holding my hand, helping me be calm, but at that moment all I could see in his eyes was a giant question. And that’s when God stuck his hand on my shoulder. I stopped thinking about the silly competition with my brother. I stopped thinking about adventure and pushing through hard times at all costs. I whispered, “We should stop.”
My husband to this day will say he doesn’t know how, but he felt a hand on his shoulder too and a force that refused to let the car move ahead any further. Yet there was no place to turn around, and the beeping sound was still growing louder.
God love him, I don’t know how he did it, but my husband, calmly and with the utmost agility and patience in the entire universe, began to turn that huge white Dodge Durango in a sixteen-point turn on that tiny little path. Despite having every confidence in his driving abilities, I felt I had pushed us way past the safe zone and was sure we were going off the edge to certain death. I turned to make sure everyone had their seat belts on. The kids’ faces were white and no one spoke a word. My husband rolled, stopped, backed up, rolled forward, stopped, and backed up again until we had completely turned around on that road and were headed back down in fog and rain. I didn’t start breathing again until I couldn’t hear the beeping sound of the road equipment behind us. My husband didn’t start breathing again until we arrived at the brake-check stop point, where we pulled over and all just sat there in silence.
It was dubbed the Durango Moment because my husband believes — and I agree with him — that God had had enough of my foolishness for one trip and refused to let that Dodge Durango go further up that mountain. Sibling rivalry or not, He wasn’t going to let this silly headstrong woman risk her family for a second time this trip.
I wish I could say I have totally learned my lesson. I have for the most part, but sometimes when I get caught up in an adventure, I forget again and my wonderful, loving and very, very patient husband and my Creator both say, “Nope, we are not going forward with this idea.” And my husband gets that same look he had on the mountain that day when I realized that being headstrong has its disadvantages sometimes too. I am grateful that both my Creator and my husband help me see my humanness and I say a prayer of gratitude!
Copyright 2019 Lisa Simmons