Merry Christmas friends,
I know for many of you today will be hard. I thought instead of talking about someone else’s problem, I would share with you something God taught me this weekend that might be helpful to you as you enter this New Year and New Decade of life.
I’ve always wanted to hike. I walk but it’s not the same as hiking. I did a little bit a few years ago when speaking in Colorado and last year in Tennessee when visiting a friend. I loved it and I know there are great hiking trails here in Arizona, but I just never got around to going.
A new friend of mine invited me on a hike a few weeks ago, and I made the time. It was pretty easy and lots of fun. Last week we went on an early morning sunrise hike. The Arizona sky is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen, both AM with sunrise and PM with sunset. The colors are spectacular and it’s worth getting up early just to witness it.
But this weekend I went on the hike of my life. I and two women from my Conquer group decided to hike Camelback Mountain. Now if you don’t know anything about this mountain in Scottsdale, AZ you can learn more here.
Camelback Mountain has two sides and both are not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could physically or mentally do it. I’m scared of heights. I’m not an athlete. I’m out of shape. I’m not that strong. I’m getting older.
My son hiked it several years ago and told me it was the hardest physical thing he ever did and he’s strong. The other two women were much younger than I am and I didn’t want to hold them back if I got scared and backed out halfway up. And I didn’t want to freak out in front of them. Yes, I too have a lot of negative stories in my head that limit what I think I can do.
But I did it. We hiked up the Echo canon trailside and hiked down the Cholla Trailside. At the top, we met Camelback Santa and basked in our newfound strength. A few years back I ran a half marathon, but I had months to train for it. The run was hard but not scary hard like this challenge was. And during the hike, God taught me three profound lessons about life that I’m carrying into this New Year and I’d like to share them with you.
1. If you were able to see the whole picture of what’s ahead in life you surely would tell yourself you couldn't do it. That’s why God doesn’t show us. Camelback Mountain is one of the hardest hikes. “Most difficult,” the sign says, and they aren't kidding. But I didn’t read that until I got to the bottom. Had I seen how difficult it was, how high, how much rock scrambling would be required, I would have lost my nerve and stayed home. It was scary hard both climbing up and getting down. But I learned to push through my fear and keep going. I learned that my fear doesn’t decide, I do. I learned that my body can do so much more than my mind thinks it can do.
2. I learned I had to do my own work – climb up and climb down. No one rescued me. No one carried me. But I would not nor could not have done it without the support of my two CONQUER sisters who were with me. Together we were stronger. It was helpful for me to walk behind someone more experienced. I saw where she put her foot and I put my foot there next. I saw how she grabbed hold of the rock to pull up when the climb got steep. Alone I would have given up. With my sisters, I was motivated and inspired to keep going because they kept going. And I accepted the kind hands of a few strangers, especially on the steep way down. No shame in that and it saved my energy when it was teetering on exhaustion.
Many of you are walking a path you never dreamed you would walk. Separation, divorce and having to figure out what to do. It’s scary and the support from women who have gone before you is critical. You can watch what steps they took and follow them. Click To Tweet
I will be doing a FB LIVE this Friday, December 27th with my friend and colleague Georgia Shaffer. She will be talking about five steps you need to rebuild your life after divorce. She has walked this path and knows where to put her foot for the next step. If you feel wobbly, weak or just plain terrified, please join us on Friday at 1 PM ET to learn how to take those steps.
3. I learned on that mountain how important it was to stay attuned to my body and the next step. On a hike, you always have to watch your step, your feet, and stay present. You can't think too far ahead of time, just the next step, the next step, the next step. In the past, I have freaked out when I've felt too close to the edge of things. This hike was very edgy. I didn't look over the edge. I didn’t look around or down. I knew that would play with my mental game and rob me of my courage.
Camelback is a high hike, with real cliffs and falling off points if you aren't mindful. This picture is a metaphor for life. If you think too far ahead or look too much all around you, you get scared, intimated, and overwhelmed. Stay present. Watch your feet. Ground yourself in the present moment and take the next step, the next step, and the next step. Sometimes on the way down, I had to slide down the rock on my rear end. My stomach cramped. My legs shook. I had to breathe and take the next step. But I got up the mountain, and I got down the mountain and had no bruises. Sore muscles for sure, but I made it, and the two other CONQUER sisters made it too.
Hiking Camelback was an amazing life lesson. Three women – all different ages, at different places in our life journey, taking a hike together and we all helped each other get through it. Whatever journey this New Year and New Decade have for you, practice these three lessons and you will get through it stronger and more resilient than before.
Friends, what lessons is God teaching you about life, getting to and through the next step of your journey?