I Could Have Died…for WHAT?

So I can’t wait to tell you about this big revelation I had as I was clinging to the side of a mountain. But first let’s talk verbosity. It’s the word of the day. It’s my area of expertise. It means using more words than needed. I suppose I could let the photo speak for itself—but no. I’m a woman so I tell stories in length and layers. I’ve got to make sure you understand how strenuous and terrifying the experience was. I’m hoping for kindergarten kudos. Particularly for navigating the narrow half-mile ascent where I had to use my sweaty, shaking fingers to grip the intermittent chains hammered into the rock, a welcome safeguard to keep us adventurers from plunging 1,000 feet down on either side. Imagine doing this while navigating around 412 authentic mountaineers who were also using that same chain to scale up and scale down the mountain. You have to understand that there’s only one chain rope. In order for somebody to pass you, somebody has to momentarily let go. So yea, I do deserve kudos and a freakin’ gold star on my forehead!

Wind back to the previous night. Upon arrival at the hotel I carried my backpack and my duffel bag up 14 stairs. While I was stooped over trying to catch my breath, someone remarked, “You can’t walk up a flight of stairs and you’re going to hike Angel’s Landing tomorrow?”

I nodded.

And I did it.

It’s a 5.4 mile trek with a steep elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Angel’s Landing is a fin-like rock formation that jets out from the main canyon in Zions National Park, which is in the southwest part of Utah. Fit people hike it all the time

Me? As far as I could see, I was the only senior citizen with 100 (yes, that’s excruciatingly accurate) excess pounds lugging my way to the top. But let’s not pat me on the back just yet. Or ever. I was out to prove a point. I was out to check it off my Bucket List. I was foolishly wrong.

After I passed the tree point where most sane people stop to claim victory, I kept going. And going. “Why are you doing this?” my snarky internal voices demanded to know.

They sounded weird. They sounded scared.

“I’m doing this because I’m crazy. Because I’m courageous. Because…”

A kind Israeli woman in front of me glanced back at me. “Are you speaking to me?”

“No. I’m talking to the voices inside my head.”

“I understand,” she said and hurried on ahead.

Right then I had an epiphany. I had no good reason for doing what I was doing. To prove that I was crazy? I’ve been certifiable since childhood. To prove that I was courageous? I’m Mama to six children. So there I was making the final push to the summit when I understood I didn’t need to be there to prove anything to anyone…not even myself.

Well, shoot.

It was too late and too dangerous to turn around, so I kept pushing and pulling and when I finally arrived, the nice Israeli woman’s husband asked, “Would you like me to take your photo to prove to everyone that you made it?”

“Yes, please,” I panted.

So I risked my life to check something off my Bucket List. With help and support, I turned my dream into a reality. An experience and a memory. That’s cool. So it’s not like I’m not giving myself credit, it’s just that I’m not giving myself kudos because I don’t need to take risks to prove I have worth. Neither do you.

My life. My I-got-no-upper-body-strength-so-I-got-no-business-chain-climbing life. When are we gonna get that we’re enough just the way we are? We don’t have to prove anything. Yes, we have to improve, but not to prove a single thing. God already knows we’re worth it. We can’t earn or buy His love because we are His love.

Next time I do something like this, and God willing I will, I hope that I prepare better. And I hope that I check my motivation. Am I doing the right thing for the right reason? Do I even  know WHY I’m doing it? This time I proved only that I had nothing to prove. Not to anyone—especially myself. That, my friends, is a huge step forward in my personal healing journey. And speaking of steps…check out the view. It alone was worth every step—all 12,533.4. of them.

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