Day two of trekking through beautiful Peru showed me that there is something that must be said about the mysterious way in which a great physical challenge leads to a great mental test which, in turn, leads to a great spiritual test. This was the day that was, for the most part, a straight hike up the mountainside. This was the day that led us to “Dead Woman’s Pass,” which was the highest point of our trek at 4215 meters.
The sun was beating down.
The legs were heavy.
The breathing got harder and harder the higher and higher we went.
LET THE MENTAL TEST BEGIN
All I could think about was quitting, but I was still hours away from the checkpoint. So I had to make the choice in my mind to keep going, to keep pressing on. Completely mind over matter at this point. Let the mental test begin. I was front row seats to two competing voices: one saying “stop” and the other saying “keep going.” I kept going. The journey continued, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that, for me, it was the hardest physical challenge of my life. Thankfully, before the trek had begun, I had scored a Metallica bandanna from a sweet Peruvian woman, that protected the back of my neck from the sun. It worked. So that was cool (both literally and figuratively).
For the first time in my life, I was able to really see what my depths looked like, and to have my mind opened to whatever was going on in my soul. When you’re trekking all day, your mind has plenty of time and opportunity to run. So mine did. And I learned more than I thought I would. Let the spiritual test begin. It’s true that we really don't know what we’ve got deep down or what we’re capable of until we go further and deeper than we thought we could go. And so, I thought: What if I went further and deeper in EVERY area of my life? What if EVERY area of my life was a mountain to trek through? (Complete with the beauty that is Peru and the Andes surrounding me? I wish.) But seriously, what if I took more risks? What if I decided to just create things for the sake of creating things, with no end goal in mind, but just because I’m human? What if I decided to live inspired, every moment of every day? What if I worried less about the outcomes and enjoyed the beauty that is the journey more? Because after all, the journey is the most important part of any process. It’s the part where we learn more about ourselves than anywhere else. But how do we do this? How do I do this? This is the question that soaked my mind on the flights back.
ENTER THE WORD BRAVE
In Joshua 1:9, it is written to be “strong and courageous” because the “Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God is continually calling and leading us forward into a life of bravery. And I learned that fearlessness is not the goal. For starters, being fearless is actually impossible. It’s part of being human. Also, if we were fearless, we would then have no fears to trust God with. Once we trust God with those fears, we no longer let them drive the car anymore, but it doesn't mean they aren't there. Their just in the back seat. In my experience, my fears have helped me because I have learned from them. But this is the point: Bravery cannot exist without fear. What would we then have to be brave in the midst of? So my eyes were opened to the things in my life that I was fearful over. And I have a good list. I’m sure we all do. And as I was climbing up hours’ worth of a mountainside, I decided to be brave in the face of everything on that list.
Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
I WAS CHALLENGED
I was challenged to not play it safe anymore.
To stop taking the comfortable route.
To let God lead and guide, wherever He may wish, and to follow Him there.
I was inspired to grow. And to never stop.
I remember the transcendence that permeated my being as I sat at the end of the trek on day four, overlooking the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu. I was filled with this great sense of achievement. I was filled with great pride thinking, “Wow, I did this. I didn't think I could at times, but I did.: As I reflected, I realized my favorite aspect of Peru was how colorful the culture was. Literally, colorful. The flag of Cuzco, for example, was a rainbow. Everywhere you walked in that city, beautiful colors filled the place. From women sewing handmade bracelets and other pieces of clothing on every corner, to proud flags and proud heritage, from fine art pieces and workshops everywhere, the place was lit up. Color all over. It’s impossible to not be inspired in an atmosphere like this. And so, I thought, what would my life look like if I began throwing paint all over its canvas? I felt like I could do anything. Through the trek and the vibrant colors, God showed me that with Him, I could. I felt accomplished, and I felt ready. Ready to feel this way, every day. Ready to feel BRAVE.