A Tale Of Two Mountains
A few years ago, my family took a quick trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., and spent a week in the mountains. Despite the presence of some pesky bears trying to steal our hotdogs each evening, we had a wonderful week exploring the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As often happens, despite our best efforts to find trails that meet our (ok, my) limited climbing experience, we ended up climbing a mountain that was well beyond my level of comfort. I couldn’t appreciate the panoramic views as I had to focus on every step, gaining the proper foothold and praying that I not plummet hundreds if not thousands of feet.
My husband and sons, however, were in their element. They joyfully climbed boulders, splashed through streams and scaled slate walls to the summit. I found joy in their happiness, despite my own misery.
Fast forward a few months and we were again climbing, only this time we were on the sandy trails of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park in Northwest Indiana, taking on the Three Dunes Challenge Loop. The elevation may not have been as steep, but climbing hundreds of feet while trudging through sand brings its own challenges.
It was as if my husband and I were experiencing our very own “Freaky Friday” moment. He was filled with anxiety as we climbed higher and slid with each steep step. I was in my element, skipping up and down the dunes, encouraging my kids to roll down to the shore of Lake Michigan, just as I had done decades ago.
Over the peaks of the sandy dunes lie the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan and, in the distance, the shoreline of the city of Chicago. As we stood looking at the view, my husband and I talked about how different these two hikes were to each of us, and how much one was preferred over the other. We both examined more closely how we each behave when out of our comfort zones. (It isn’t pretty.)
It has been echoed during this graduation season - as students are stepping into the great unknown, ready to climb and reach new heights - that they should strive to reach outside of their comfort zones because that’s what’s necessary to continue to grow.
But perhaps added to that should be the encouragement to listen to that inner voice, that voice of reason that leads us to what is the best fit for us. As stated in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”
God also gave us the gift of intuition. Author of “The Gift of Fear,” Gavin de Becker, writes that intuition is always in response to something and always has your best interest at heart. “You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations,” he writes. “We think conscious thought is somehow better, when in fact, intuition is soaring flight compared to the plodding of logic.”
It is a gift.
To our graduates, be brave. Listen to the voice that has been nurtured by the guidance of your parents, family, teachers, coaches, mentors and most importantly, God.