I'm truly thankful that I didn't let it keep me from trying.
The Incline at Manitou Springs is only a mile hike, but it climbs 2,000 vertical feet, reaching an altitude of 8,590 feet at it's top. I don't consider myself any kind of athlete and certainly not an extreme athlete, but this was intriguing. And here's why.
This month is April, and tomorrow, April 26th marks 26 years since the day that I was raped.
That's a long time, and a lot of life. In years past, I've come to April with a sense of regret and fear, with haunting memories and triggers of some really awful moments. But in the past few years, I've tried to rewrite my memories for April by doing something fun and maybe a little crazy. I've done simple things like declare April 26th "Celebrate my Kids Day" and made a cake and had a fun day. I've run a mini-marathon (Don't ever want to do that again!). I've taken a day off of work and just allowed myself to grieve loss. I've gone outside and flown a kite. I've spent days with my husband and even with friends, just trying to be intentional about enjoying the moments and not allowing memories to overtake me.
This year I wanted to declare that I'm healed and I'm whole and I'm strong. And climbing the Incline seemed like the perfect place to do just that.
As I began my climb, I realized this was not going to be an easy feat. (duh!) I was seriously huffing at just 1/4 of the way up. About halfway, I was approached by a couple of military guys coming down the incline with their snow spikes in hand. They strongly suggested that no one go all the way to the top without them as snow was still covering the trail and it was "quite treacherous". I was bummed for a moment, but realistically, I wasn't sure I could have made it anyway. I decided that I'd get to the 2/3 mark and take the "bailout" trail. But then I heard that the trail was also snow covered (10 inches or so when I got to it!!), so I had to climb back down the steps to get back!
All of that is fun and great, but what happened along the way is what will stick with me forever. You see, I started this hike talking to the Lord about life and about the feelings I've wrestled with lately that "there's just nothing out there for me specifically". I've struggled greatly in the past year with feeling that I have no calling, no real purpose. I've lost passion in my life, feeling it drain out of me little by little as I sit at my office desk day after day. I've searched for meaning, searched for a new job, searched for answers in the Word, asked questions, even looked at going back to school as a possibility for me. And yet, there it was still... that nagging feeling that I was just lost and without purpose or direction.
As I made my way up that mountain, I was listening to music and talking to God about all of these things. I was thanking Him for healing me and bringing me restoration from the pit of depression and shame from the rape. I was praising Him for being the only one worthy of praise, and yes, I was questioning Him about why I was still feeling this sadness and emptiness despite such blessings in my life.
That's when I heard the branches near me snap. I was alone for a moment, sitting on a cable car tie trying to catch my breath. I assumed it was an animal nearby. The terrain around the hiking path was steep, straight down actually, and I peeked over to see if there was a deer or something nearby. But I saw nothing. I sat for a while longer, listening, and I heard it again, branches snapping as if something or someone was walking nearby. Otherwise there was just silence around me except for the song playing in my headphones now hanging around my neck.
Savior and Friend, Breathing your life into my heart. Your word is a lamp unto my path. Forever I'm humbled by your Love.
Take my life, Take all that I am, With all that I am I will love You. Take my heart, Take all that I have. Jesus, how I adore You.
And I find myself here on my knees again, Caught up in grace like an avalanche. Nothing compares to this love"
(Exerpt from Like an Avalanche, Hillsong United)
And in that moment, I heard the Lord speak clearly to me, saying "What you hear is me, Holly. I'm walking this path right beside you. I have walked EVERY path beside you, from the wonderful things in life to the worst days. I've always been there, and I always will be. I do have purpose for you. My purpose is for you to walk with me. Just walk with me. And then I'll show you the rest".
Y'all, I can't even hardly write these words for the tears brimming in my eyes. I'm not writing everything He spoke to me because it's too personal to share here, too beautiful to taint it with written words. But it's mine, forever etched into my heart.
I came down that mountain still wondering what is out there for me. But I'm not questioning my purpose anymore. For that I'm finding in walking daily with my Lord. I'm finding that I haven't really just been with Him for a long time because I was too busy trying to hear a direction. He desires my presence, and I'm giving it to Him.
And it's beautiful.
I took a picture from the point of my hike where I heard the Lord speak so clearly. I was so excited and so overwhelmed with His personal attention to me that I didn't even think to take a picture at the very highest point of my hike. It wasn't important anymore to me; my purpose in climbing had changed. I've never experienced beauty like I did that day, on that mountain path, listening to the Creator of All talk personally and intentionally to me.
And now I wait. I still am curious about what's next for me. But I'm not overcome or worried or fretting or losing sleep anymore. Because I know it's there, and at the right time, I'll walk right into it. I realize that this sounds a bit kooky to some of you, particularly if you've never heard the Lord speak before. But for this girl, who walked up a mountain side by side with my Savior, it was incredible. And I'm writing it so that I don't forget a bit of it. And I'm writing it so that you can know He desires to walk with you and talk with you too.
If you'd like to talk more about how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus, I'd love to chat with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let's talk more.
And for those of you who are walking the road of healing after sexual assault or abuse, know that there is TOTAL REDEMPTION and healing from that pain. I'm living proof.
To God be the Glory,