Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill?” The idea that we often make a bigger deal out of a challenge than we need to. I’m guilty of this. I can make the simplest pursuit look like a challenging summit up Mount Everest.
Earlier this year I read an article about Mount Hood in Oregon. The writer talked about it being the third deadliest mountain in the United States. The challenge sounded like a cool idea, especially since I was reading about it in the comfort of my living room half way across the country. I put the trip on my calendar, and a few months later I was standing at Timberline Lodge looking up at the summit of Mount Hood. I planned to climb the following morning so a close up perspective of the summit seemed like a good idea. I found a climber on the trail who had recently summited Mount Hood and asked if he could tell me about the climb. He started by telling me that I needed to be very careful because many people are injured each year and some die in their attempt to summit Hood. He pointed out the hazards and asked about my experience as a climber – reminding me how I could slide to my death in a crevasse if I didn’t know how to use my ice axe and crampons properly. I stared up and the summit and felt a wave of fear sweep over me. Was this really something I could do? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Early the next morning I sat in my car at the trailhead shivering all over. It wasn’t because I was cold. It was because I was working myself up with fear. Could I do this? Was I qualified enough? Would I be another Mount Hood statistic? I took one last sip of coffee and started on my way up the trail. I heard that the dangerous climbing starts after a landmark on the mountain called Crater Rock. I had been dreading Crater Rock since I heard about it the day before. Two hours into the climb and I was climbing up close to it. As I rounded the corner on the huge rock, I caught a glimpse of the final ascent I was warned so much about. The mountain rises to an incline that looked near vertical. Studying the final approach to the summit I could see a small figure making his way up toward the summit. From my perspective this person looked like they were climbing straight up. I sat down to rest and evaluate my next move. This looked like a pretty good place to turn around and go back to the safety of my car. I drifted back and forth in thought between the dangers of what could happen, and the satisfaction I would have reaching my goal.
All too often I struggle between fear and opportunity. More often than I would like to admit fear emerges victorious and I take my seat on the sidelines; never enjoying the reward that comes with taking that next courageous step forward. I told myself to deal with this fear the way I have trained in other areas of my life. Don’t think about the trail way out in front of me. Just focus on the trail directly before me. Challenges are far less imposing this way.
I reached the summit of Mount Hood that day, and it was not nearly as hard as it looked; or as hard as people made it out to be. Most challenges are that way. Are you stuck in pursuit of your God-inspired dream? Tune out those people that stir up your fear, and stay focused on the next step forward. Don’t let your mind drift toward the challenges far out ahead.