The area in and around my town of Colorado Springs overflows with scenic wonders, and one in particular is either breathtaking or evil, depending on your view. It’s known as the Incline, a straight up and down, no switchbacks trail that’s nearly a mile long with grades as steep as 68%. The altitude at its beginning is 6,500 feet above sea level and by the end reaches over 8,500 feet above sea level.
Hiking the Incline is something many tourists and locals alike want to check off their bucket list. So when friends of ours invited us to join them in climbing it, we were game to play. How bad could it really be? I thought to myself. Besides, I love being outdoors and soaking up some of Colorado’s abundant natural beauty.
So on that cool, crisp morning as the kids and I approached the turn off for the Incline from Highway 24, my son James says from the backseat, “Hey mom! Is that the Incline trail up ahead?”
I look over to where he is pointing and see this towering mountain with a sliver of brown trickling down one side. My answer to this child was downright incredulous:
“James, James, James. Don’t be ridiculous! Of course that’s not it! That mountain is waaay too big to climb without switchbacks. I’m sure we’ll find it when we get a little closer.”
After we wind our way through streets between quaint businesses and shops, we find a place to park and ask a college-age hiker for directions to the Incline. He smiles and tosses his thumb over his shoulder. I follow his line of direction to see indeed, my James had been spot on with his earlier question.
I swallow hard and then grab James’ shoulder,
“Son, it looks like I owe you a little apology.”
“I just kneeew that was it, mama.”
I didn’t know what I was thinking to attempt this.
Soon we met up with our friends and start the slow trek upward by climbing steps made of railroad ties that cling to the side of the mountain. Much of the trail is beyond difficult, requiring the use of your hands as much as your feet to crawl. It doesn’t take long for me to fall well behind the rest of my pack, which was fine since it saved me the embarrassment of breathing like I had a serious lung condition in their presence.
Now, here’s where I know you’re expecting a nice little cliché parallel comparing climbing mountains to overcoming insurmountable odds. Nope, that’s not what I’m offering today.
Did I make it to the top? Yes, about an hour and a half after I started.
About an hour and 15 minutes after I looked at how far I still had to go, called up to my good friend Rebecca and said,”I don’t think I can do this.”
About an hour after I leaned against a boulder next to the trail and texted my husband at work the words, “I need to tell you I love you because I’m gonna die.”
About 45 minutes after my kids reached the top.
But I made it just the same, because of one reason:
I gave up. Yep, I gave up over and over so I wouldn’t give out.
I stopped no less than 374 times to rest against a rock, heave some barely there oxygen, and guzzle my water. And while those things helped me refuel, they aren’t what pushed me most toward the top. Every time I stopped, I’d turn around and focus on how far I’d come, not how far I had left to go. And after sitting for a few minutes, I would turn back around and begin the climb once again while chanting I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And as I finally climbed the last of the 2,740ish steps, I was greeted by my children and friends’ exuberant scene-making cheers. It was humbling and embarrassing and totally thrilling.
Yes, sometimes we overcome something keeping pace one step at a time. But sometimes we overcome it by giving up – even if just for a bit – first. We give up the idea that we can do it on our own and we hold onto the truth that we can do all things because of Christ in us. We give up by taking a moment to rest and remember how far God’s taken us.
I don’t know what difficult circumstance or trial towers before you today. But if you need to give up, do. Take a break, a rest, a stop. Sometimes it’s the right choice. Do it just long enough to turn around and take in the view of how far you’ve come rather than scold yourself for how far you have still to go.
Don’t give up for good, just give up long enough to do yourself some good.
And then when you get to the top, we’ll be there making a scene with the Father, cheering you on in exuberant style.
What are some ways you give up so you don’t give out? (Email and RSS readers, share your wisdom here?)
Kristen Strong, cheering for you at Chasing Blue SkiesLeave a Comment