Sunday, September 23, 2007

Encouraging Words Do Make a Difference

Have you ever been paralyzed by your fears? So much that it consumed your waking moments and kept you up at night?

My husband, with my permission, signed me up to go hiking with his family to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, it is a magnificent creation of precipice peaks and dangerous depths. I am petrified of heights. Somewhere, in the pit of my stomach, I knew I had to do it. It would be good for me--physically and mentally. But oh, did I dread it!

Stories abounded with ominous warnings, "my cousin had to be carried out because he couldn't walk up the trail," "my brother-in-law became delirious at the bottom" or "20 people a month become dehydrated and need help getting out." What were we thinking? Would it still be the 'Grand' Canyon to us when we reached its summit or would we shudder with horror at its deadly power?

I walk every day, but not on rough terrain, hiking up and down steep paths. Could I really do this? Could my husband handle the stresses on heart and joints? After all, since June of this year, ten people have departed for good down in the Canyon. I became obsessively paralyzed with fear thinking about this trip.

Guess what, I did it! I hiked a total of 18 miles from the south rim down to Bright Angel campground and back out in two days of sizzling-style desert heat with a backpack. In fact, all nine of our party finished with exhilarating excitement!

Was it difficult? The most intense physical pain I have ever felt--outside of childbirth.
What kept us going, what made the difference?

I believe it was the encouraging words we shouted to each other, the support of our community that helped us bear the burden of the uphill climb so we could finish our journey.

"You can do it."
"Put one foot in front of the other and take the next step."
"Look ahead--not behind or below."
"Think of how good the accomplishment of finishing will feel."
"Each step you take will take you one step closer to the end."
"Don't give up, you are almost there."

To us, struggling on tough perilous terrain, these wonderful words of life were as refreshing as cool mountain streams. The joy of conquering together what we could not have alone gave us the courage to continue. To us, struggling through daily trials, words of encouragment make all the difference.

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