Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I was out hiking the Manitou Incline here in Colorado — it’s only a mile to the top but has a vertical gain of 2,000 feet (aka: steep). Then it’s a 4-mile hike on a gentler trail to get back down. A nice morning’s workout.
I got to thinking about all the ways I try to get out of my comfort zone, do hard things, conquer challenges that scare me. I purposely push myself to my limits and beyond sometimes, because it reminds me that I can always do more than I think I can.
I learned to scuba dive because I was afraid of the ocean—as a California girl growing up body surfing, I was tossed by the waves and sucked into the undertow one too many times. Becoming a scuba diver didn’t take away my fear but it always reminds me of how attentive we need to be to details—they can mean the difference between life and death.
When I was around 30 I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 12,000 feet, just because I knew it would scare me. For months afterwards, I kept telling myself whenever things were hard, “I jumped out of an airplane. I can do this.”
Sometimes I ski on black diamonds even though I’m not really good enough; I’ve taken rock climbing lessons although I doubt I’ll ever climb a real mountain; I’ve been whitewater rafting five separate times on Class III and IV rapids, which scares the daylights out of me every time. I like to do challenging hikes and runs, although I haven’t run a marathon and I doubt I ever will.
In all of this, I’m always seeking that moment when I come to the end of myself, when I no longer have the strength or the courage to go on. That’s the moment I have to reach down inside and find reserves I didn’t know I had. It’s also the moment I have to open myself up to the strength from outside of me, the courage from beyond, the reserves that only God can provide when there’s nothing left of me.
And in pushing myself to my limits in physical endeavors, I’m always trying to prepare myself for the real-life moments where I’m going to come to the end of myself. The times when parenting is hard or work is hard; the times when tragedy hits, when grief overwhelms, when despair crushes the spirit. In those moments I want to already know what it means to come to the end of myself and then find out… there’s More.
I can do this.
In what ways do you purposely push yourself beyond your limits? What happens when you come to the end of yourself?