On July 19, 2014 I embarked on an adventure I had never been on before. I woke up at 3:00 a.m., departed Parker, Colorado for Guanella Pass (a solid two hour drive), and began to hike a 14,000 foot mountain. I was exhausted and quite honestly slightly skeptical about the entire thing, but by 5:30 a.m. I began fighting the thin air to climb Mt. Bierstadt. Myself and four other friends made this journey together. We had backpacks filled with water, clif bars, bananas, and a blanket. Arm-in-arm (at times literally), we stepped forward to conquer the steep and winding road ahead of us.
I had “climbed” mountains before. By that I mean my grandparents live in Colorado and growing up they would take us around some of the mountain roads to walk around. This, however, was entirely different. The prominent trail in the valley only lasted for so long. Within a matter of a few hundred feet, the trail got thinner and steeper. If someone veered off the path too far, they were stuck in the brush. On the other side was an open field, but the field did not necessarily mean an easier climb as the incline in the field was much steeper. The higher I climbed the bigger the rocks got. While they made for good chairs when we stopped to rest, this only meant we had to be very careful of where we placed our footing. Meticulously I had to focus on the path before me.
The entire climb was filled with heart-to-hearts between my friends and I. We got to know each other better, we played therapist when the other needed it, and spent a good majority of the climb just loving each other.
About halfway through the climb, a sense of perseverance suddenly came over me. I saw not only how far I had to go, but how far I had come. I was climbing the exact journey I had began embarking on in my life only a few months earlier. The symbolism almost brought me to tears. No longer did it matter I was a Texan and therefore in need of canned oxygen in the thin Colorado air, no longer did it matter that I was cold, my feet hurt, or that I was hungry. As I climbed that mountain, I realized if I could accomplish climbing a mountain, I could accomplish so much more.
Mentally and physically I had been lacking strength in the previous months. As I climbed Mt. Bierstadt that changed. I found a physical strength in myself I wasn’t aware I had (which was apparently a lot since the Colorado-natives told me I climbed the mountain like a natural).
As we reached the snowcaps and I saw the steep rocks leading to the summit, I knew the toughest part of my journey was still ahead of me. I had a choice – I could wait on one of those big rocks and give up or I could battle the rocks sitting in front of me. Naturally, I sucked it up and began climbing.
When I reached the top the view was indescribable. Again, I was almost brought to tears. In that moment I was able to see how far I had come. I later captioned the journey on my Instagram as “In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.” I truly was blessed in that moment.
Over a year later, I like to remind myself of that journey. I am a college graduate and have my entire life ahead of me. This is all fine and dandy, but I have spent these past few months figuring out exactly what that life ahead of me is. To say I have been discouraged at times would be an understatement. In fact, I don’t think I have felt this stressed in a while. Yet, in the same way I chose to stay on the narrow path to the top of the mountain, I know if I stay on the narrow path of my spiritual life, God will lead me where I need to go.
Finding the silver lining in life can be hard, but you never know where it will come from. Last week I was accepted to Liberty University’s masters program. I am getting to pursue my MA through a university in Virginia (my dream) with an online program. I am truly blessed. Even today I had a rough morning, but when I stopped at Starbucks my barista practically turned my day around, and not just because they handed me a Venti Vanilla Latte. The rest of my day would continue forward in a very positive manner.
I began climbing Mt. Bierstadt in darkness and stood in the sunshine when I reached the summit. My life journey would symbolically move from darkness to sunshine as well. Even this morning, that began as a foggy and gloomy morning, eventually saw the light of the sun.
I think it’s amazing what can happen when we choose to persevere. God has a plan for us, and like that mountain path, even though it is winding and narrow and at times hard, He will always help us reach the summit. Like my friends who took my hand, played therapist, and helped me venture the winding road as I made the climb, our Father is always there to take our hands as well. So my friends, keep climbing your mountain. Trust me, if I can reach the summit of a 14,000 foot mountain, you can too.