Every year during my high school summer break, I'd pack a trunk of athletic clothes and a one piece swimsuit and head to Kanakuk-Kanakomo Kamps for 26 days filled with sports, waterskiing, zip-lining and sunburns. This fair skinned girl was no stranger to the annual ‘freckle and peel.'
One week out of the 26 days was designated for an adventure simply called “trip.” Now, trip is just a shortened way of saying don't bathe, don't shave, and smell bad for a week while camping in the woods, hiking, rock climbing, and using the loo in a box over a hole dug in the ground. (Still gross). As the girl who always liked to shake the wires and freak everybody out while hanging thirty feet off the ground on a ropes course, you could always count on me to be the first to volunteer to head backwards and repel down a giant cliff. Heights have never scared me much….IF I'm secured with a rope and a harness.
This particular year after fearlessly repelling and swinging down the face of a mountain, our Trip Man (AKA…..college, tan hottie who wanted a job that required his shirt to stay off all summer), informed us that we'd be heading back UP the very mountain we had just repelled down, rock climbing back up to the trail. I stared back up at the steep cliff, eyeing the natural crags and footholds that looked easy to scale from down below.
Now, there's a few factors we should take into consideration here:
1) I'm long. VERY long. At almost 6 feet tall, my long, skinny arms and legs are very praying-mantis-like. You would think this would be a good thing for rock-climbing to reaching long distances. Yeah, this would be a good argument if the skinny arms were actually strong.
2) Gravity is real, people.
About a fourth of the way back up the mountain with sweat pouring into my eyes, a headache forming from my clenched teeth, and arms shaking violently as the praying-mantis attempted to hold her long torso against the rock, I did the unthinkable. The girl who always had to be the best, the fastest, and the most successful–the girl who never quit or gave up– looked down at her hottie trip man and screamed with tears running down her cheeks, “I CAN'T DO THIS! IT'S TOO HARD! I CAN'T MAKE IT BACK UP THE MOUNTAIN!”
Accepting defeat, I slowly lowered my ropes back down to let another girl from my cabin take a stab at the cliff. After watching four or five little, short gymnasts make it look as easy as I thought it would be, I hung my head and began the walk of shame back up the trail with all the non-athletic people to catch up to the rock-star climbers looming above us.
How many times has this very thing happened over the years, minus the sweaty armpits, ropes, and great outdoors? How many times have I tried to take the shortest route to the top of a mountain/trial/tribulation/challenge, but not been strong enough to climb up the steep slope, so instead, I end up having to take the long route.
The funny thing is, whether you're strong enough to climb the face of a cliff quickly, or whether you have to take the long road and slowly hike up….you still end up at the same destination.
We all have mountains that we're hoping to get to the top of. And when we don't get there fast, or when we're not strong enough to pull ourselves up the shortcut, we get frustrated, even feeling defeated.
What mountain are you currently climbing in life that you want to get there faster? Are you hoping to overcome fear? Maybe addiction? Are you climbing towards a the hopes of a romantic relationship? Maybe towards graduation or a new job?
Take a moment and assess your journey. If you're still traipsing up the trail slower than expected, take a deep breath and look around you. Did you know it's possible to enjoy the journey? Did you know there's invaluable lessons to learn along the way?
Wherever you are today on your climb towards the top of the mountain, take a deep breath and recognize that you're not alone. There is someone who is climbing with you who will never leave you or forsake you. Push frustration aside that you haven't ‘arrived' yet. Throw fear and anxiety, worry and anger onto the One who walks with you.
Take a moment today, and enjoy the long hike. You're going to get there. Why? Because of the One hiking with you.