My oldest daughter is a rock climber. What a sport. It takes incredible strength, obviously, but it also takes much patience and strategy. Much like chess, each move must be carefully anticipated and calculated. It’s also a sport that has its own vocabulary. I learned that they don’t say, “I made it to the top.” Instead, they say, “I sent the route.”
This week, two climbers were the first to send the wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. My daughter showed me a picture of how the climbers had to live on the wall for seventeen nights… on their way to the top.
What would it feel like to endure such a wall? I imagine the cold winds and long nights, the swinging tent and the fear.
I imagine two climbers pulling and pushing each other up, then wiping tears of joy with bloodied hands and hugging each other with tired arms. I can feel their fingers trembling as they unstrap and unbuckle, and the squint of their eyes as they battle the unblocked sun to take in the view.
I can hear their shouts of relief and joy. Their sound waves doing victory laps around the mountain: laughing, cheering, singing praises …all mocking the very walls that tortured them along the way.
I also imagine what it would have been like to climb and celebrate alone. No one who understands the proud pain of blistered hands and bruised feet. No one who knows the struggle to keep your chin up, think ahead, and not look down. No one with whom to hug, shout, or cry.
God gave us friends so we could send life’s walls together. Because alone, it’s too steep and terrifying on the route. It’s too lonely at the top.
Are you on a wall alone? Or worse, are you wasting energy to keep the face of your mountain hidden? You are robbing yourself of valuable help along the way, and much joy at the top.
Choose a friend, and camp out on the wall. Look ahead. Reach. Trust the One who holds you both.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16