"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:15-16
As we were headed to the airport, reflecting back on several days worth of memories, good times, and sharing each other's personal highs for the trip...I told the guys I was most proud of how we worked well as a team. Our first prayer together was to be patient with one another, to communicate effectively, to work efficiently, and to remain calm within and with each other so we can all enjoy what we came to do: To climb a whole lot and most importantly return to our families safely.
And in the several days we were together, I felt like we did an incredible job of being on the same page. From early 5 a.m. starts through sunsets...we prepared breakfasts, broke and established camps, sorted out equipment, racked and re-racked gear, flaked out ropes, went over strategies on our climbs, and kept things moving forward for five consecutive days. Sure their were a few hang-ups like a rope caught, losing gear, tiredness, heat, cold, soreness, hunger, dirtiness...but we kept a good attitude and focused on getting the job done. All in all...we stuck together, stayed positive, encouraged each other, and kept moving forward.
Truly, truly...all of this is a product of one thing: Trust. I trust these men (Brad, Jeremy and Sean). I trust them with my life. It doesn't matter if you are up 100' or 1000' on a wall...many things have to be in place to remain safe and be successful, but it all starts with Trust. Trust in one another.
I don't take Trust for granted. It is not given...it is developed. And it is developed over time and it requires maintenance, care, and above all...investment.
MAINTENANCE: This requires communication and action. The apostle Paul says, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body (Eph 4:25)." Communication is key. We need to be able to tell each other exactly what we are thinking. How we feel, what makes us uncomfortable, what hurts, our doubts, our frustrations...In regards to the trip, a goal was to communicate how we felt about the climbs, the walls, the protections, the anchors, etc, etc. At any point, if something wasn't "right," we needed to voice it and most importantly, be able to receive it, act accordingly, and bail if need be. Our safety is priority over personal achievement. In regards to action, the bible asks, "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so (Amos 3:3)? Being on the same page, doing things together, participation, being involved in each other's plans is another major tenet in growing trust with one another. As we walk along each other, we naturally begin to assimilate into each other's lives. We can relate. We can begin to see and understand each other.
CARE: As we spend more time together, we begin to feel more...care more for each other. Understand each other. "...clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. (Col 3:12-13)" This is a must...and we spoke of this before our climbs. We understood our abilities, concerns, and fears. We knew we needed to be compassionate towards our partners and tow the fine line of "pushing" and encouraging our friends and knowing when to back off and allow everyone to do what was best for them. We also needed to be patient, merciful with one another. There is no room for hurry on these walls. That's when mistakes are made. Mistakes results in desperation, which inevitably puts everyone at risk. By taking care of everyone's needs, we minimized certain risks. In addition and above "...all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col 3:15" To keep morale, rapport, and the peace going...we loved on each other by positively encouraging each other throughout the days, embracing with celebratory hugs, high-fiving both big and small accomplishments, and never dwelling on each other's mistakes or disappointments. We loved on each other by constantly building each other up. This is how we took care of each other.
INVESTMENT: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of Peace. (Eph 4:2-3)" When we are involved and caring for each other, naturally we become invested in one another. This is called friendship. I love the scripture above, specifically where it says we "bear" with one another in love. Or in another words...we "struggle" with one another in love. These trips I go on...they are not easy. They are typically long hard days. Hard on the body. We are constantly on the go and there is a "grind" mentality to them. I typically surround myself with partners that are willing to submit themselves to hurt, tiredness, and pain for vacation. After long days in the sun, we go get restless sleep out in the desert just to carry heavy packs, climb steep walls, take a beating by the hot sun, cold nights, freezing waters, and then go do it over again. But we do it together, working towards a common goal, to go where most people don't, so we can share our common bond of love for each other and the places we deem precious to us. It's in those moments, I know I can count on my partner. I need him and he needs me. Partnership...Friendship. We are invested in each other. Out here in the wilderness, I can trust them with my life...
...but importantly, I trust these men even more with my spiritual life. You know what is more scary to me than being on the side of a cliff, just tied into a cord only 9.5 mm around...and runout above a microwire sketch placement in crumbly rock? Having a wife that doesn't feel served and loved by her husband. A wife that feels isolated, scared and alone. A wife that feels like she is doing life on her own. You know what is scarier than crossing a frozen creek and suffering through hypothermia? Having daughters that feel like their daddy has turned a cold shoulder to them. A daddy that has abandoned them physically and emotionally. A daddy that thinks his job or money is more important. You know what is scarier than being exposed on a mountainside with quickly deteriorating weather? Being a selfish man, inconsiderate of others, never caring for my family, community, neighbors, and clients. Being apathetic, never loving and or pouring into other people. Living a life alone. You know what is more scary than being lost in the wilderness? It's being lost in the wilderness. The scariest thing I can imagine...is losing my Way in life. It's to stop looking at Jesus, lose trust, and look down in the water...only to lose my footing, and sink down to the depths of my doubts. The scariest thing I do...is face my doubt in Jesus everyday. I hate this about myself. I get anxious even writing about it because even thinking of it makes it feel more true. Being a believer in Jesus, and trusting in Him and His ways...is scary. It takes more than what I can give or do. It takes a lot more.
In my life, I have men that are willing to bear with me through life. Men that are willing to hear my heart, hear my struggles, hear my pain. Men that are willing to maintain our relationship. Men that are willing to talk to me, and speak truthfully to me. Men that are willing to spend time with me. Men that find peace and unity, despite my different and difficult ways. Men that are kind to me and my family. Men that love my family and will make my family their own. Men that have made the investment, have drawn the line in the sand, and proudly call me one of their own...men that call me Friend. In my life, these men help me grow, support me, and love me. These are the guys that when I look down, and face my fears, and feel most exposed and scared...they lift me up out of the water when I'm drowning.
So truly, truly...I just don't trust these men with my life in the outdoors. I trust them with my life where it matters most. I trust them to speak truth in love, to help me grow into him who is the Head...to join and hold me together by every supporting ligament, to build me up in love...so I can fulfill my calling in this world. These guys are my partners outdoors...but most of all, they are my partners in life. Thank you fellas...I love and trust you forever.
Next Post...Trip and More Pics...and hopefully some videos.