Lessons From Rocks
A few weeks ago, I went bouldering for the first time. I didn't expect much from the experience, except perhaps a few scratches and bruises. But, it seems that there are some things to be learned from the sport:
1) I was tirelessly trying to conquer the same wall over and over again, but I seemed to keep getting stuck at the same place. Disheartened, I sat down at the bench to catch my breath. A fellow climber sat down nearby and started offering my advice on how to get up. We were watching another climber masterfully and effortlessly complete a difficult climb when he noted, "Yup, he is definitely one of the strongest people at this gym. Him, and that guy over there in the red." I looked over at the two long and lanky men climbing up the wall. This comment was very interesting to me because if I saw these two guys at the gym or on the street, frankly, I would not consider them to be strong at all.
From this interaction, I came to realize that one cannot compare their own strength to another because we are all strong in different areas. Someone who is considered physically strong in the societal sense (ie highly and obviously muscular) may excel at deadlifts or benchpresses in a gym, but is unlikely to do well at bouldering or ice skating because these sports require a different kind of strength. In the same way, we should not compare our personal characteristics to others because our weakness in one area may prove to be a strength in others, and vice versa. We are all capable of something different. We are all on a different journey.
2) For a small, 5 foot girl with a fear of heights, bouldering is hard. There are some walls that have so few rocks that there is only one way to go up. I was at that wall that I had mentioned earlier, and was getting so frustrated because I just could not reach the next hold. Finally, I was so fed up with getting stuck in the same place that I just took a leap and prayed that I would grab a firm hold on the next rock. And to my surprise, I didn't fall crashing onto the mat below - I actually caught hold of the rock! Although I didn't make it to the top of the path because I slipped shortly after, I was able to overcome that barrier by getting over my fear and taking the leap.
When I was taking a breather, I was reflecting on this when it struck me. Sometimes in life, God doesn't give us handholds throughout the entire journey, Although our destination is clear, verso l'alto (to the heights), or to Heaven, we don't always know exactly how to get there. There are times where there just aren't that many rocks we can climb on. Or, in relation to our life, there doesn't seem to be a clear path to follow, nor do we know what is it that God wants us to do. In these situations, this is where Christ calls us to trust. We are encouraged to take that leap of faith towards the direction we think we're supposed to head. We are to trust that God will catch us, that we will catch hold of the next rock. And in the event where we do not end up going in the right direction, God always has a safety net waiting to catch us gently when we fall.
The speaker that the retreat I was at recently shared that when it comes to discerning decisions in our lives, we don't have to be 100% sure about the choice. We just need to trust in God's providence, and He will bring goodness from what we choose. Now don't get me wrong, this is something I struggle with regularly. I continuously fall into the trap that I know myself best, even more than God possibly could. But this is the life the prevent God's wonderfully intricate plan for my life from coming to fruition. It may be terrifying to take that leap, but knowing that Christ is on the other side makes the risk completely worth it.
Image credit: Blessed is She