To Persevere or Let Go?

My family started geocaching a few years ago.  Geocaching is a recreational activity that uses a GPS to go on treasure hunts all over the world.  It has been a great pastime that allows us to take in the sights, get some exercise and explore places we never would’ve gone before.   (See for more information.)

After church on Sunday, my husband and I took advantage of a glorious sunny afternoon in the Pacific Northwest to go on the hunt for a few local geocaches.  We hadn’t eaten lunch and we didn’t have a lot of time, but we ventured to a nearby park to make what we thought were some easy “finds”.  (That’s geocaching lingo for having found the hidden treasure.)  We thought these would be easy finds because geocaches are rated for their level of difficulty to find and the level of the difficulty of the terrain.  This was a “1” on both scales.

Geocropmom, aka Ardis Nelson, with a typical geocaching container.

We reviewed the online log entries from the previous geocachers to get some insight and clues for the hunt.  Their entries mentioned blackberry bushes and suggested long sleeves and pants, but that didn’t deter us for the hunt.  We pulled out our gloves from the geocaching backpack we keep in the car, thinking that would be sufficient to avoid getting scratched and poked, but cloth gloves are no match for full grown blackberry bushes.

After at least 40 minutes of searching in and around the blackberry bushes, we finally gave up the hunt.  So much for easy.  We logged the dreaded “DNF” (did not find) on the webpage for this geocache.  Ouch!  I hate those—and then to admit it online for everyone to see—how embarrassing.

“DNF”, it’s giving up.  It feels like defeat.  It seems like failure.  When is enough, enough?  I am not a quitter.  When the going gets tough, I keep going—often times beyond what is reasonable.  When it comes to something I am passionate about, it is especially hard to let go.

So move on we did.  By this time I am hungry, thirsty and my feet hurt.  Did I mention I was not in walking shoes?  But I was encouraged by my husband to go on the next hunt.  It’s only .2 miles away, he said.  I agreed to go.  After all, I didn’t want to end the day with a “DNF” on my geocaching profile.  We ended our outing with two successful hunts or finds.

I share all of this not to give a lesson in geocaching, but to provide food for thought on the challenges in life.  Unfortunately, we don’t get a rating scale of difficulty or terrain that we will encounter on our travels.  We can take a personal risk assessment based on our past experiences, our own abilities or wise counsel from others who have travelled a similar path.

In geocaching, as in life, you sometimes have to decide it’s time to move on to the next challenge.  In doing so, we need encouragement for the journey, like my husband gave me, and the stamina to persevere.  We also need to learn when to let go.

One last thought you might be wondering about related to the “DNF”—why would one post that online for all to see?  It is to help other geocachers who will follow you on the hunt.  That is like our journey too.  It is ok to admit defeat.  It can help others on the journey to self-discovery.  It does not need to define us.  After all, Jesus tells us in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Leave a comment


  1. People tend to learn more from our DNF and “failures” then our successes. Thanks for admitting and sharing Ardis!


  2. That looks fun, and challenging!
    Good reminder about admitting our ‘failures’ ie: learning opportunities!


    • Yes, geocaching is a lot of fun–as long as you don’t get too worked up over the hunt or not finding the treasure. It is full of opportunities to fail–and learn. Ardis



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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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