The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

moving across the country…to discover what God has in store

To Belay or Not to Belay

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

…to belay!

…to belay!

When I saw this daily prompt, I knew that it was fate.  On Friday, I put myself outside of my comfort zone with a specific purpose.  I had done the same thing on Tuesday and it ended rather badly.  So it should go without say ing (but I’ll say it just in case) that this particular task was that much more difficult yesterday.

I should back up a bit though, to give you some context.  About a year ago, I started climbing in a climbing gym on a regular basis.  After climbing with several people for a couple of weeks, I realized that I should take the belay certification test so that I could return the favor they were doing for me.  So, in a less than savory fashion (I had a friend administer the test), I took and passed my belay test.  For the next five months, I climbed on an almost weekly basis and became a proficient, although casual, belayer…and an “okay” climber.

Five months passed and the only climbing I had done was outdoors in Wyoming when I took a road trip with a friend in July.  I realized that I missed it.  So, alone, I stumbled into a new gym that had auto-belays sprinkled throughout the gym.  The original plan was to go with someone else, but he backed out.  I was desperate though…so I went alone.  I kept going (alone) over the course of the next few months and loved it every single time.  When my parents asked for a Christmas list, I told them I wanted a punch card or a gym membership.  (Let me mention here: I am an only child and my parents love me a lot…I love them too…I would add a “smiley” here, but that looks weird inside parentheses.)

So, on January 2, I entered the gym and signed the requisite forms to complete my membership registration, purchased a harness and started climbing.  But…I was limited to auto-belays.  One of the workers (let’s call this guy Joe) prompted me as I entered one day, “You should take advantage of the discount;” he was referring to a member’s discount for the belay class.  I was not taking the class…I could belay!  With that, Joe said I should go find a random person to climb for me.  A couple of days later, I decided be that creepy person.

This is where we get to that “attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.”  It’s always a learning experience for me when I talk to a new person.  For starters, I am not a big “people” person and I didn’t really mind climbing alone.  But I was getting weary of the same routes over and over again.  I had climbed almost every 5.6, 5.7, and 5.8 route multiple times (I’m not solid on 5.9s yet).  So out of desperation, I talked to someone on Tuesday.  I changed my clothes and got my gear on, then tentatively wandered around the gym looking for a lonely person.  I would have preferred a female, but I saw a 20-something dude staring up at an auto-belay route (or so I thought).  So I awkwardly approached him.

Me: Are you here alone?

Him: No…

Me: *awkward pause* Oh, okay…

Him: Were you looking for someone to climb with?

Me: *word vomiting* Well, I needed…wanted to take my belay test…and I need someone to climb for me…I’ve been certified before, I just haven’t done it here yet.

Him: Oh, okay…Let’s go find a worker.  

Me: Oh!  Really?  I’m Mary Elizabeth, by the way.

Him: I’m Tim.

And then I almost dropped him.  In my defense, they have one key difference in the technique they require, so I had some adjusting to do.  While my mind was processing this adjustment, he took his “surprise fall” and I forgot to brake for about 30 seconds.  As I saw him dangling there, I was thinking “I’m forgetting something…this should be easier…I should do something…s*hit–brake!”  And then, I looked sheepishly at the test administrator.  “Sooo…I’m not going to pass you today.”

No kidding.  On the plus side, one failure does not require you to take the class.  When I went in on Friday, Joe was working and said, “We’re doing to do something about this today!”  A random dude came up to the counter to exchange his shoes.  Joe ignored his need.

Joe: You’ll climb for her, right?  Yeah.  He has to go through orientation.  You go get geared up and we’ll be ready for you to take your test.

 I looked at the guy who had a panicked look on his face.  Joe took the shoes and went to get a different size.  I looked at the poor soul and said,

Me: You don’t have to climb for me.

Random dude: Okay, yeah, thanks.  I–I don’t really know what’s going on.  I just needed a different size.

So I went to change and get my gear on.  But, I figured what the hell?  Why not continue the awkwardness of the day?  There were two other ladies changing in the bathroom so I decided to ask, “Are you ladies here with other people?”  That question led to a conversation with Marie who was there with her husband…who volunteered to be my guinea pig.

I only forgot to brake for about 10 seconds this time around.  And despite the fact that I had the belay device hooked on upside down and got my hair caught when I was lowering him down (there’s a second time for everything), Joe passed me.  I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Marie, her husband, their son, and her husband’s lead climbing partner.

So, what did I learn from this?  Even though I nearly kill a random stranger on Tuesday doesn’t mean that I will nearly kill a random stranger on Friday.

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As the Rain Slows Down

Do you know what happens when the sun begins to shine while rain continues to fall?  That is (supposedly) when you should be able to see a rainbow.  I have heard that there the bow of colors is created by a complex scientific process…but I can’t swear by that.

I can swear by, however, that God is good (that’s not sacrilege is it??)  If you have read this blog recently, then you know that I have been searching for God’s will for an eternity (slight exaggeration).  My heart has always known that He would come through but I will admit that my head sometimes doubted.  The rain would fall without fading, without relief…and nothing would happen!  I couldn’t move forward or backwards.  The rain made life difficult, slippery.

My Camping & Climbing Trip

I went camping a couple of weeks ago.  The purpose of the camping trip was to track down rocks to climb.  Unfortunately, it rained one evening.  My friend and I were stuck in our tent for an extended period of time!  And then, we were hesitant to climb because we knew that the rocks would be dangerously slippery!  We had nothing to do besides read…and sleep…and stare at each other.  How’s that for a camping trip?

Ah, but that was not the end of the trip, nor was it the majority of the trip!  The time we spent in the tent gave us the opportunity to relax and refresh.  We had been going hard for several days and probably would not have taken this time off had it not been for the rain.  After the abuse of climbing, our bodies definitely needed some time off!  And when the rain stopped…life was different.  The world was different.  Everything looked and smelled fresh!  Do you know the smell of rain?  Go camping in the rain!  You shall not know the true smell of rain until you smell it out in the middle of the woods (with wildfires raging all around–we were near Laramie, WY).

After the rain

And that is exactly why God sends us through storms!  When our life is overwhelmed by storms, we can spend time fighting them…or we can take that as a sign that we should allow God to restore us.  We can also be reassured that God will bring us through the storm and eventually a rainbow shall appear in your life.

What’s my rainbow?  I have a job…basically.  Sometime in the next few weeks I will be moving to Minnesota to spend a year serving with the Minnesota Reading Corps.  There’s a lot that has to get done before that happens (specifically–finding a place to live!), but I know that the Lord will provide.  He always has…and He always will.

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Discovering the Valley

For a while now, I might have characterized my life as being in one of those valleys that Christians so often describe.  Most of the time people can pinpoint the beginning and end of the valley.  It is caused by some traumatic event in stark contrast to the rest of their “church-y” life.  And then it comes to an end when everything is straightened out.  Whenever I’ve heard people describe their valleys, they seem so sure about all of it…where they were and why they went there.

I feel like my valley is different.  This valley seems like a vast and open space, not necessarily just a location for torture.  Instead, it feels like I’ve been here for a while and God has allowed me to explore the valley.  There are streams and trees and rocks in this valley.  Although it was terrifying to be in here, I have learned to make the most of it.  There have been unexpected moments of terror.  There’s an intruder…I venture into a new area full of shadows…I climb too high on the rocks.  But for the most part, this valley has been my classroom.

And now…now it is time for me to climb out.  I have learned all of the lessons that are here and it is time for me to graduate to a new classroom.  This valley has been full of pain, but also discovery.  God has continually shown Himself to me in new ways through new materials.  Although there were times when I questioned His existence, His presence has always been in the valley.  More importantly, I know that His presence is carrying me out.

Sometime in the next few days, I will have the next year of my life sorted out (ha!).  I will have a new city and a new job (I’m using that term loosely).  In the meantime, I have to trust that God’s hand is still firmly clasped over my own.  He is leading me through the path to come out of this valley and stand on the top of a mountain.  I may have an intense decision to make, but I know that when all is said and done there will be a breathtaking view before my eyes.


*Photos were taken during a recent camping and climbing sojourn to Wyoming.

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