So I went rock climbing (indoors) for the first time today! I have always wanted to do this. No time like the present, right? I was super nervous but excited. It wasn’t the typical nerves one may assume would come with your first climb. I had no fears of falling, breaking bones, or equipment malfunctioning (although the fact that the person I went with is an awesome, positive, encouraging person who just so happens to be an instructor probably helped to keep any of those traditional fears at bay). My fear was much less logical than all of that: the fear of failure.
We started at what was basically the children’s wall (literally…they even host birthday parties in this area). No problem! As small and simple as it was, it was still so exhilarating! I couldn’t wait to try a “real” wall.
We made our way to the “actual” walls and I nailed the first two! I’m positive I wasn’t nearly as athletic or graceful as I felt once I reached the top – but that didn’t matter. I did it! And it felt awesome. Since I felt pretty confident on those, we tried a couple that were a little harder (and by “harder” I mean still beginner status). Ah! There it was! In rock climbing they call this the “crux”: the most challenging point.
I was able to escape what I thought was the crux and continue my ascent a couple times…but twice, on two different walls, I found it. Both times I had to eventually throw in the towel and come down with my tail between my legs. “If I had just put my foot there…or moved my hand there…” I thought aloud as I stared at the wall that had just owned me. Thankfully I trusted my belayer (the person at the bottom responsible for and connected to your rope) 100% and that made a huge difference in my confidence – even when I gave up. Having someone you can trust not only holding onto your lifeline, but cheering you on helps fuel your fire more than doing it alone.
With the known risk of being super cliche – I cant explain this experience without noting how much this mimics being a follower of Christ – a Christian – in today’s world. You start at the bottom and clip yourself in. You and your belayer check each other to make sure that you and the equipment are set and ready to go. This is where you give your life to God. He in turn gives you Jesus – the rope – so that any time you need him, you have an instant connection.
You are now hyped and ready to go! Your mind and body are fresh, your adrenaline is pumping and you grab on. You fly through the first half, feeling like Spiderman as you move effortlessly from hold to hold. You know your belayer is there watching out for you and, being still relatively close to the ground, the stakes are pretty low at this point (no pun intended).
As you move upward, you start to feel the burning sensation in your forearms. You can yell “take” to your belayer at any point in the climb if you need a break. They increase the tension on the rope so that you can rest and/or regroup. This is the part in your journey as a Christian where you are still moving forward, but that initial “conquer the world” feeling has faded a little…you start feeling fatigued…life happens. Working two jobs, taking care of a sick loved one, dealing with a relationship on the rocks…if the enemy can’t destroy us – he will try to tire us out. For some this may come sooner than it does for other, but everyone experiences this at one time or another. Thank God that he gave us a rope – Jesus – so that on our journey we always have a lifeline right to him.
At one point in my last climb, I was trying over and over to reach a particular hold. I tried looking for an alternate route – couldn’t see one. I tried using a little momentum and swing my body up – that instantly proved to be a bad idea! I moved my feet around trying to get a better angle – nothing. I could hear helpful advice from below but eventually I wore out and gave up. As I landed on the ground, I was met with encouraging words and a high five, even though in my mind I had “failed” by giving up.
We can’t expect to be perfect. The Bible clearly states: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Thankfully we have a belayer (God) that holds onto our lifeline, encourages us, and will always be there for us when we fall. In the end – failure is inevitable. But failure with God isn’t a negative thing. It’s a learning experience. It prepares you for the next climb – for the next chapter in your life. When things get difficult on your climb, call out to God. Yell “take!” and rest in Jesus in the middle of your trials instead of wearing yourself out by trying to do it all alone. God doesn’t want you to fall, but know that he will be there with encouragement and a big high-five if you do! He will help you up and send you back to the wall to try again.
Failing on those walls today could have easily discouraged me. (Have I ever mentioned I hate failing?!) But that’s not the case. I am now determined to get better. I am going to increase my grip and forearm strength. I am going to learn techniques. I am going to climb the walls I failed on today.
Failing God is heartbreaking – that is a fact. But it doesn’t have to discourage you. He wants you to use every opportunity – both positive and negative – to learn and to grow. Read your Bible. Practice patience and kindness with others. Live your life in a way that reflects your belayer.
By Emily Meadows