As I peered up nervously at the extremely steep half mile of climbing that lay before me, I said to my daughter, “I don’t know if I want to go on.” Our family had gone to Zion National Park for Thanksgiving week this past year. We decided to do our favorite hikes early in our visit because we had seen the weather reports and knew we’d be getting rain and snow later in the week. We hiked the Narrows on our first day, an adventure that travels in a river to sections of Zion Canyon that are 22-feet wide and 1,500 feet tall. The Narrows is my favorite hike in the world! The next day we planned to hike Angels Landing. Both hikes are strenuous, but I love them. I love the beauty, the challenge, and being with our family. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’m done.
Angels Landing requires climbing up and up and up. And then down and down and down. We started out on a beautiful day, but when we got to Scout Lookout and I stared up at the last ½ mile climb to the top, I said, “I don’t know if I want to go on.” My daughter, Kara, replied, “Okay, Mom, that’s fine, you’ve done great. You can just wait here for us if you want.” My son, Nathan, said, “Why don’t you hike just a little bit farther and see how it feels. It looks really daunting from here but you’ve done it before and maybe you’ll see it’s not as difficult as it seems if you just try it.”
Both pieces of advice from my kids were just what I needed, both support and challenge. When I was training to be an executive coach, my mentor said to me, “Coaching is all about support and challenge and knowing when to give either one.” This has stayed with me as wise and helpful advice. My kids gave me both as I debated about whether to continue the hike to the summit or wait for them on Scout Lookout. Kara offered the support and Nathan offered the challenge. This was their invitation to me and indirectly it was God’s invitation to me. I was welcome to stop and rest or try the challenge of hiking to the summit.
As a spiritual director, I listen as people talk to me about how they’re experiencing God in their lives: what they’re praying about, how they’re growing, where they’re stuck. A question I often ask is, “I wonder what might be God’s invitation to you in this season?” Maybe they have sensed a call or movement in their life for something new and they need confirmation from God and community. Maybe they’re deep in loss and need comfort and nearness from God and community. Maybe they’re angry or lonely or filled with joy and excitement. We look together for God’s invitation in every circumstance, in every season.
Because of the support and challenge I got from Nathan and Kara, I decided to take the next steps in climbing to the summit of Angels Landing. And I made it to the top! And I made it back down! And I felt a great sense of accomplishment! I felt grateful to God for the beauty of the day, the fun of being with family, and the way my body could still do this demanding hike! On the way down, I was looking at my feet so as not to trip or fall and had a flash of these words in my head, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” I should probably add here that my legs were unbelievably sore the whole rest of the week! I was sore . . . but happy. I had been challenged and supported along the way.
I wonder, what is God’s invitation to you in this season?