“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” — Romans 15:1-2
Who is On Your Climbing Team?
Mount Everest. It’s known for being the tallest peak in the world, majestic and powerful as it sits in the Himalayan range. Many have tried to summit its grandeur, to brave the unpredictable elements in order to count themselves among the few who have stood atop the highest point on Planet Earth. Some have successfully accomplished this feat; many others have died trying and never got there.
I recently finished reading an incredible book that uses the documented experiences of those who have attempted to climb Everest as a metaphor for life, taking spiritual and practical lessons from the stories they’ve told of surviving storms, pushing their bodies to the absolute limit, braving close calls, and even facing the reality of death itself. One of the biggest things I took away from this compelling read was this simple fact: Who you climb with matters.
Several stories in the book detail positive and negative experiences of teams that were assembled to take on this giant of a mountain. Some chose their climbing partners wisely and brought great people who knew how to survive and navigate a challenge of this sort. Others brought inexperienced people who had the passion and the drive but not the weathered experience. Hearing how the success or failure of the mission was often determined by the decisions of those in the climbing party was a sobering reality. Some groups stuck together and climbed at the same pace with their sherpas (the Nepalese climbing guides), while other groups neglected to do this and lives were put at stake because climbing partners didn’t stay close enough to one another.
If life is an Everest of sorts — filled with unpredictable weather patterns and challenging forces that test your resolve continuously, begging you to reconsider if the climb is worth the effort — then who you climb with matters. The people you are roped to in this journey are crucial to whether you’ll make it alive. The unforeseen storms, the blinding of the eyes, the wind, the lack of oxygen, the fatigue — they hit us all at some point as we trudge along, and it’s vital to have partners in life who are not just there for the mountain experience, but they are there for you because all they want is for you survive.
They must be people you can trust and rely on when the weather of your heart or your circumstances turns savagely against you; people who aren’t afraid of the dizzying heights, the thin air, the precarious footing or the slippery slopes. They must be people with whom you can share the breathtaking views as well as the heartbreaking falls; people who count it a privilege to bear your burdens, finding a simple joy in just being with you for the climb. They must be people in whose presence your fears are diminished and your faith is increased.
As you summit your Everest, choose wisely who goes with you. Don’t be afraid to cut the rope or release someone from the mission if they’re not fit for it. Pick your climbing team smartly, carefully, because it could mean the difference between life and death.
— Katherine Singer
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