You Can

It was early morning when we met at the trailhead—Jim, Abbott, and I together with our friend, Jeff, who lives here in Estes Park, Colorado. We had chosen to ascend Twin Sisters Peak in part because we could see it from their front porch and in part because at 11,400 feet it would give us a taste of the extended backcountry pack trip that we embark on tomorrow—but then we’ll be sporting 40 pounds on our backs! We started with strong legs, clear lungs and a confidence that didn’t take too long to falter a bit when at a water break Jeff let on that we’d only gone one third of the way up.  Yikes.

It got more and more difficult. And it was hard not to get discouraged, with only a very occasional glimpse of a vista across the valley while we were still under the tree line. I’m not sure what was more challenging—the climb itself or the dawning realization of what we had signed up for in the week ahead and the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, it was more than we could reasonably accomplish. You can do this hard thing, I said aloud at one point, remembering one of my favorite songs by Carrie Newcomer with its powerful refrain: It’s not easy I know, but I believe that it’s so.  You can do this hard thing.   (Carrie’s beautiful four minute music video with lyrics is here.)

And then the stories began, like the time Abbott climbed Little Whiskey Mountain at the age of 6, so she could earn her own Camelback water system that she had seen other hikers using—which prompted her to remind me of the fact that she got a knockoff version, which wasn’t quite the same. Or the time she decided she could, in fact, climb the enormous boulders standing between her and the top of Bomber Falls two years later. Or the time I was terrified to climb a rock face during Outward Bound as a teenager, but managed to do it just the same.

And then we were standing there on what felt like the top of the world, having summited one of the Twin Sisters peaks—Jeff assures us that reaching one gives you the ability to claim the whole. The view was spectacular, including stunning views of the mountain range we’ll be exploring in the coming days. The way down was easier on our lungs, if not our feet and knees, and by the time we got back to the porch the view looked even more impressive, if that’s possible.

You can do this hard thing.  How often, when faced with challenging times not of my own choosing, have I drawn strength from previous ‘hard things’ that I’ve survived and even been strengthened by. You can now, I remind myself. And often when I sit with people struggling in the face of daunting circumstances, I ask them to recall other hard things they’ve gone through that they weren’t sure how they would get through. The Bible is powerful in part because it recounts those hard things the people of God before us have gone through that, when we take them to heart, can be empowering to us in the midst of our current hard thing.

Time will tell how we three fare over the next seven days, but we’ll give it our best and have promised to be encouragers to each other that we can do this hard thing. Acknowledging the difficulty but instilling courage at the same time. I promise to give you the update when we return. By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be off on our adventures.

With love and encouragement,

Pastor Elizabeth
07.06.17

PS:  My hard thing day continued after a little R&R, my friend Kathryn even encouraged me to sew—definitely another hard thing for me…

PPS: I’ve included the lyrics just below the video we took of the panorama at the top.

You Can Do This Hard Thing
By Carrie Newcomer

There at the table
With my head in my hands
A column of numbers
I just could not understand
You said “Add these together
Carry the two
Now you.”

You can do this hard thing
You can do this hard thing
It’s not easy I know
But I believe that it’s so
You can do this hard thing.

At a cold winter station
Breathing into our gloves
This would change me forever
Leaving for God knows what
You carried my bags
You said “I’ll wait
For you.”

You can do this hard thing
You can do this hard thing
It’s not easy I know
But I believe that it’s so
You can do this hard thing

Late at night I called
And you answered the phone
The worst it had happened
And I did not want to be alone
You quietly listened
You said “We’ll see this thru.”

You can do this hard thing.
You can do this hard thing.
It’s not easy I know,
But I believe that it’s so.
You can do this hard thing.

Here we stand breathless
And pressed in hard times
Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines
Impossible just takes
A little more time.

From the muddy ground
Comes a green volunteer
In a place we thought barren
New life appears
Morning will come whistling
Some comforting tune
For you.

You can do this hard thing.
You can do this hard thing.
It’s not easy I know,
But I believe that it’s so.
You can do this hard thing.