I heard a story recently from an acquaintance. She described a time that she and a friend were hiking to find a hidden lake that someone told them about. The lake was beautiful, deep and sparkling, and it was tucked back in a fold in the mountains.

As she and her friend gained altitude, they could see it in the not-too-far distance. It looked exactly like it had been described – pristine, dark blue, surrounded by fir trees. But as they rounded several more bends, they found themselves on a beach, with gritty grey pebbles, littered with junk, and the water was choppy and unappealing. Disappointed, they hiked back. When they told other friends what had happened, one woman laughed and said, “You stopped too soon.” The next weekend she went back up the trail with them, and showed them the trail behind the grey beach where they found themselves back in the woods, walking up a little bit more and coming out on the vista of the lake they had seen from a distance.

How often do we stop too soon?

A few months ago I was with a group of people who live with rheumatoid arthritis, and they told stories about dealing with doctors, finding the best medication regimen, figuring out how to manage exercise, and ways to deal with pain.

Living with chronic illness is a constant calibration of energy and effort.

But I know that sometimes we may stop too soon, thinking this is the best it can be.

I have heard people say “There aren’t any good doctors. I just have to deal with what I have.”

Or, the medications I have been prescribed don’t work very well, but that’s the best that can be done for me.”

I recently worked with a client who wanted to try acupuncture for his pain. He had done his research, and felt it would be a good addition to all the other treatments he was using.

He lives in a rural area, where there are not a lot of practitioners, but he found one not too far away, and made an appointment. It didn’t go well.

He determined that perhaps it was the practitioner, not the treatment, and decided he could drive a little farther, and went to a second acupuncturist. This went slightly better, and he went to several more appointments, but had a nagging feeling that this person didn’t really understand him or his needs. He began to look further afield, and also began asking people he dealt with in his own town if they had heard of a good acupuncturist.

His dentist had–and he trusted his dentist. This was a person practicing in his own town, who was not yet on social media, but had been around a long time. He made his third attempt, and found a fit.

A long process? Oh yes! But he wanted this treatment to work, and he wanted to work with someone he felt was not only skilled at acupuncture, but would respect him and his needs.

He got discouraged, and uncertain, and this took several months, but he didn’t want to stop too soon.

I offer this as a question for your life – where might you be stopping too soon? Settling for what is only half right, or sort-of-works, and not giving yourself the gift of getting where you really want to be?

Living with pain and chronic illness is long slog – and it takes all the persistence you have on many days just to get from dawn to dusk. But there may be an area where you are only a few bends in the trail from the place you are longing to find.

I wish for you all the stamina you need to get there.