A bunch of new climbing routes just went up so after doing a few warm up routes, I decided to try a new 5.10d route. (If that meant nothing to you, check out REI's helpful chart on climbing grades titled "class 5 sub-categories". Basically the route is considered "Hard".)
After watching my climbing partner go first, I observed that the much-dreaded steep section (and by steep, climbers mean a wall angle that is greater than 90 degrees therefore causing you to lean backwards into space) looked easier than usual - and I quickly mapped out a plan to get through it without tiring out too quickly.
When I got to the steep part, I was feeling pretty good until the rope got in my way. It tucked itself inside a hold that I really needed to hang on to with my right hand and suddenly all of my strategy was gone. All my focus switched to my hands - hanging on, trying to move the rope quickly - and none of my focus remained on using my legs.
In climbing, pretty much all the power actually comes from using your legs. New climbers think it's all about upper body strength, but it's not. It's your legs. But when things get tough, we all tend to forget that and just hang on and try to pull ourselves up with the strength in our arms and hands. And then you get tired REALLY quickly.
So, in that moment, my legs were practically dangling, with hardly any weight on them - all while I'm trying not to fall. I even heard my partner say "don't forget you have a left foot!", trying to draw my attention to a very conveniently located hold I could have easily stepped on. But with all my attention on the hand holds, I completely missed the opportunity to easily support myself using my legs.
Oh the routes I will climb!
As I reflected on this later, I thought about the fact that this happens all the time in life. We have our foundation. The thing that actually keeps us going, keeps us supported in tough times, and will always hold us up. For me, it's God. Not simply "faith" in God, but actually having a deep, connected, reliant relationship. One where I know what He's done for me, what He promises to me, and the fulfillment He knows I will have in Him - if I just take it.
But so often, just like in climbing, I completely forget about my foundation. I struggle with things and get discouraged, and wonder what in the world might be wrong. "Why can't I do this? Why am I not good at this??" And all the while, I've completely lost sight of my foundation. I know it's there - I have relied on it before, but it's so easy to forget. Sometimes it results in an actual fall and sometimes it doesn't - but I'm worn out from the effort. Basically I made things harder than they needed to be.
That's been happening a lot lately. I've been taking my focus off my foundation and trying to accomplish things without it. I'm not even sure why I can't seem to learn this lesson. Am I really that stubborn? (Possibly...)
I know I have the best foundation there is for life. And when my focus is on God, everything works. Not that life isn't still hard (just review those climbing grades again - the analogy holds!), but the struggle can be overcome.
I can handle things far more effectively than when I am trying to hang on with my own strength.