After reading so many great entries for the Do Hard Things Story Contest, we’ve decided to highlight a story on TheRebelution every week for the rest of the year. Each story emphasizes how Do Hard Things has impacted these rebelutionaries. Today, meet Haley!
After reading Do Hard Things for the first time at age 15, I wanted to do something. I prayed and thought hard about something that would truly challenge me.
My conclusion: Climb a 14,000 foot mountain with my family on our family vacation to Colorado.
To truly understand this hard thing, you have to know a few things about me. First of all, I loath hiking, and uphill is by far the worst. It ranks as one of my least favorite things to do, especially on vacation.
Second of all, I live in rural northern Missouri. We have no mountains. I live at an elevation of 1,000 feet. The difference in elevation between my home and Breckenridge, Colorado, which is the area we were climbing in, is about 9,000 feet.
I qualify as a true flatlander.
When I began training, I was sure that that was going to be the hardest part of my hard thing. Getting up early every morning definitely took some discipline. I am not a morning person.
Once I got out there, I was fine, but the consistency of doing it every single day for several weeks was difficult.
All that being said, it was definitely NOT the hardest part.
The hours before.
So, knowing that the elevation that we trained in did almost nothing to prepare us for the lack of oxygen at 9,000 feet and up, my family decided to tackle the mountain closer to the end of our trip to give us time to acclimate.
By the last day of the trip, which was the day set aside to climb the mountain, most of our group had dropped out for various reasons. My dad was sick the night before and didn’t know if he could do it. My sister got sick in the middle of the night. My cousins decided they just weren’t interested.
All of my accountability was disappearing and suddenly, my motivation began to disappear with it.
I slept a total of three hours the night before. I stayed up worrying and wondering if we should even go. Despite the training, despite the planning, I still did not really want to do this.
I had all but given up on my hard thing.
At 5:15 I groggily got out of bed to inform Dad that it was a no-go. As I walked out of my bedroom still torn about my decision, I noticed my uncle getting ready. Curiously, I asked him if he was going, because he hadn’t mentioned anything about it before.
To my surprise, he said yes.
That was the deal-breaker for me. Instantly I decided that we could do it. The simple expectation from my uncle was enough to keep me accountable to my hard thing.
As some of the latecomers, arriving around 8:00 AM, we parked the car behind a row of thirty other cars. Even the hike up to the trailhead was uphill.
Staring up at the mountain, we all decided to bring about half of what we had originally planned on. After filling our pockets with the necessities and leaving two of our backpacks behind, we hiked up to the trailhead.
I’ll be honest. Looking back on it, that hike up to the trail marker was probably the hardest part. I’m not saying it was the most uphill. It was just the beginning.
At that point we realized how hard it was going to be.
And boy, was it ever hard.
It was hard. Not “I broke a sweat, that was tough!” kind of hard. It was, “Wow, I can’t breathe, we have to stop every forty steps, I can’t believe I ever wanted to do this!” kind of hard.
Every step was difficult. Even nearing the summit, it seemed easier to just turn around rather than keep going up.
We were very slow. All of us felt like the out-of-shape flatlanders that we truly were when families with children and older people passed us on their way down. People were even running up the mountain!
We asked some of the people who were going down while we were still on our way up, which was worse: up or down. They all swore that down was worse. I just couldn’t believe that anything could be worse than climbing uphill.
But at the top … Wow. An indescribable moment. The feeling when you succeed, when you’re at the top looking down.
We did it. And when I say “we,” I mean God and me. Believe me, about 200 yards into it I was begging God for strength to keep going. The verse, “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), is undeniable after that experience.
The lessons I learned.
My hard thing was to climb a mountain. It hurt, but I’ve grown from the experience. Having accountability and depending on God were two of the lessons I learned from that hard thing.
Accountability (like with my uncle) is so important. Sometimes that’s the only thing that makes a difference between thinking and doing.
Depend on God as the one who gives me strength, no matter if your hard thing is reading your Bible every morning, patiently helping your little brother with his homework, cleaning the kitchen for your mom without complaining, or training to climb a mountain.
With Him, I can do anything, no matter how big or small. Without an attitude of dependence, I would never have even made it to the mountain itself, much less all the way to the top and back down again.
Dependence has been and always will be the biggest struggle in my spiritual journey. Doing hard things is the best way to keep reminding myself that I need God.
Oh, and there is a third lesson. Going down the mountain is WAY easier that going up!
Now I’m ready for a new, harder thing.
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