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Climbing the hill

Nervously, I got out of the car. This was the day that I would conquer the hill and along with it my fears. Looking at the landscape before me, I felt confused. This is the hill? It seemed so tiny. Feeling annoyed, I realized that the nemesis was hiding behind the little slope. There were several ways to get to the top. One was longer but more gentle in the incline, the others, well, no one quite understood where the other trails led. Then there was THE path that was the shortest but the hardest. I wrestled with the idea of taking the easier path because that alone would be an accomplishment since it was longer, but I knew that I wouldn’t fully feel as if I conquered the hill by taking the easy way. The hardest path was the way I had to take, but it would be more painful. I chose the hardest.

The first few minutes flew by. Feeling hopeful, I continued trudging along, but then the pain set in. My legs began to shake and quiver as the sun beat down on me. I took a few steps and stopped. Then took a few more steps and stopped. Doubts began to creep into my mind. I can’t do this. I should have taken the easy way. Maybe I’ll try again later.

A strong hand grasped my smaller one. “No, daughter, this is the day you’re going to overcome.”

“But how? If I continue, my legs will give out and some poor hiker is going to find me on my back twitching like a bug!” I inwardly cried.

God smiled and began to patiently explain the secret of overcoming difficulties. “First, don’t compare yourself to others. When you have compared your strength to others, you end up feeling shame and embarrassment. That is what has held you back. Accept what is.” I thought about all the times my family would want to do something fun, but shame held me back from trying.

God continued, “Second, focus on your steps. If you can only take three steps before you stop, that’s okay. Your steps are ordered and set by me. I haven’t given you more than you can handle. Just put one foot in front of the other.”

Sounded simple enough, but the pain and the weakness told another story. Reading my thoughts, God interrupted, “Embrace the pain. Don’t live in fear of it, nor let it hold you back. Just remember, this will pass and soon you’ll be at Starbucks enjoying your reward!” He gave my shoulders a squeeze of encouragement.

I gave a weak smile. Did I really have to do this? I took a few more steps, stopped and waited for the trembling to stop. God continued unfazed, “The other thing to make things a bit easier is to plan a reward for your accomplishment. That way you’ll feel more motivated to move forward. Just think of how you’ll feel when sipping an iced mocha?”

“I think I’d enjoy it just fine if I had it now.” I mumbled.

Minutes passed in silence as I hiked, stopped, gasped, and continued. I made it to one of the rocks that my daughter had talked about. She and I sat looking over the valley. I thought I had made it, but much to my chagrin Lydia pointed up to another grouping of rocks. I stared at the short but steep trail. I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to stand and walk down let alone continue up, but I knew I had to do this. We began our slow ascent. The sun was getting hotter. At last we reached the rocks. I looked at the beautiful scene below me, rolling hills, meandering river, wetlands, and housing developments. The birds seemed to chirp louder up here or so it seemed. I couldn’t believe that I had actually made it! My daughter and I quietly sat and savored the moment. As we sat in silence, God broke into our personal reverie, “Kristen, when you go through difficulties, you need to find someone or a community that will support you. Look at how your daughter, Lydia, helped you on the hike. She stopped when you stopped. She didn’t shame you or push you, she walked beside you at your pace. Then, at the very last incline, she encouraged you. ‘Don’t quit now, Mom, you can do this.’”

I took this moment in. For most of our life, our family faced our problems on our own. It was difficult to find a community of support that knew when to walk beside us and when to push us. Because of this, I struggled to trust anyone. God was right, though. It did make a big difference having someone there quietly supporting.

I stepped out into the “what if” and succeeded! There were quite a few lessons learned along the way. It is in those moments of faith that God teaches. Maybe another blessing is that my daughter witnessed her mom overcome a physical and mental barrier. I’m sure God was talking to her the whole way up, too. Now, I am enjoying my well deserved mocha. Boy, it has never tasted so good as it does now!

Are you ready to climb your “hill”? What is God teaching you?

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