Physically, emotionally, and spiritually hard.
Spiritually, because after listening to pioneer stories of sheer heartache and heart break, sometimes I was left wondering, "Why did God require so much?"
So, as we pulled handcarts for 22 miles over a period of 3 days and listened to stories of of our pioneer heritage, here is my overarching take away: God is not a God of ease and comfort, He is a God that requires hard things.
It's not really a new concept to me.
I have experienced hard things and I have watched others go through unbelievable heartache and struggle.
The big question is, "Why?"
If you believe that we are here on earth for no particular reason except to just live out our lives the best we can and then die, then maybe it's not so easy to comprehend why a God of love would allow so much struggle.
But if you believe that we are here to become something more, to actually take on the attributes of Christ and become like Him, then it makes perfect sense that God would actually refine and shape us into what He alone knows we can be. Almost always, true growth in character comes from hard experiences.
As he reflected on his mission experiences in Africa, I remember my Dad saying that when they were facing a difficult problem, the Lord would always let them go to the very edge, struggling for answers and pouring out their hearts in prayer. When every option was exhausted and the situation seemed impossible, only then would the Lord bless them with what they were in need of. It's at that very edge that we see who we really are, acknowledge God's mercy, and become more.
Elder Holland said in the last General Conference: "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds."11
Life is hard.
It is happy and joyful, and painful and soul stretching.
It was for those pioneers who crossed the plains with unfathomable sacrifice, and it is for us as we navigate our way through our own lives and struggles.
But it's hard because God loves us.
Trek taught me that.