It wasn’t the first time I’d regretted making a promise. I promised to accompany a friend to the Pink Pillbox for sunset on the leeward side of Oahu. I’d done the hike six or so times and while it’s not a killer hike for most people, it requires vigorous effort for me. The trail is virtually sans wind except for a few very brief moments on the climb. There’s one spot of shade. It’s just a really hot trail.
I’d gone with another friend a couple of weeks ago and even though we went in the morning, it was still brutally hot for me. I endure a physical condition that freaks out at heated body temperature. So while my friend Shayla scaled the trail’s steepness and boulders with a baby strapped to her front and a preschooler strapped to her back, I leaned against a rock trying to keep the heat nausea at bay because I was so hot. I joined her and her six children at the pillboxes long after they arrived. But I arrived.
That’s why I told Roxy I’d go with her, because whatever the struggle, I always make it to the top. I crave conquering struggles right now. And the view at the top is worth the struggle for me. Also, I’d never been on that mountain at sunset.
Feeling the Fear
The day of our adventure, though, I absolutely regretted my promise. I felt drained from a challenging day/week teaching seminary. I only slept a few hours the night before. I felt drained physically for other reasons. And it was still so hot! The weather forecast predicted the afternoon/sunset climb time to still be the hottest part of the day.
Really, I felt fear. What if my body freaked out and left me in trouble and a world of hurt on the mountain?
When he got home from work, my husband—who has carried my fainted self out of more than one hot situation—asked if I really should be going. He reminded me that he wasn’t climbing up a mountain to carry me down a mountain. Our love is honest and real.
I’d made a commitment, a covenant, with a friend I love, so I prepared to go. But I told Anthony and myself that I would take the climb at my pace. And I promised him that if I felt too hot at the base of the mountain, I wouldn’t climb.
Facing the Climb
Roxy arrived and we began our drive. I’d told her I needed an hour to make the climb since it was so hot, so we planned to begin the climb at 5:30. Sunset was at 6:29 PM. I did NOT want her to miss her sunset photography and drone moments because of me.
Being with Roxy and seeing her excitement to hike the trail for the first time gave me courage. I’d already climbed an even steeper, hotter mountain with her and she was so patient with my infirmities. I expressed my concern, telling her if we cut it close to sunset, I just wanted her to go ahead so she could experience it. That was her goal, after all. She reiterated that for her it’s not about a race to the summit, but an entire journey/adventure to be enjoyed.
True friends are priceless gifts.
Finding a Strong Reality
As I drove, I watched the clouds. Some seemed to hover over our mountain and remained as we parked at the trailhead. We hit the trail with Roxy leading at a very Delisa-doable pace. She actually went much slower than I would have attempted to go. I appreciated her kindness to me.
The clouds provided a respite from the afternoon sun. It was still hot and humid, but the sun wasn’t beating us to a pulp.
I love listening to Roxy’s thoughts. She carried the conversation as we slowly, but surely, wound our way up the mountain. We paused to take a picture of my favorite tree and any time we felt a trace breeze. Per usual, I was drenched, but I wasn’t totally overheating.
I repeatedly expressed surprise that my foregone conclusions and fears hadn’t materialized. I felt stronger in that realization.
We turned right at the final fork leaving the vertical climb beginning the more horizontal section of the trail. As we approached the seaside face of the mountain and the summit, we felt the wind again. The wind always rejuvenates me.
We saw the sun start falling from the sky. It burst across the crest in front of us. Beautiful.
We checked the time (because I am mission-focused). 6:01 PM. WHAT? 6:01? How was that possible?! I couldn’t believe it.
While Roxy cherished the view and expanse of sky, sea, and mountains, I stood bewildered. By taking the slowest pace known to man, I’d shaved 20 minutes off my personal record.
We leisurely climbed the trail to the higher pillboxes and more expansive views. The clouds providing respite also blocked the sunset—which was hysterical to me—but we still enjoyed sunset colors over the ocean’s horizon.
Fear—the voices of an unknown future based on my weaknesses—nearly kept me off the mountain. I feared my body’s weakness in heat. I feared my lack of personal fitness. I feared my sleep deprivation. I feared slowing my friend down, causing her to miss the sunset. I feared my inability to travel at her pace.
I’m not sure where it comes from, but deep, deep down, my DNA’s wired to accept responsibility and keep promises. Though I’ve failed in that regard, for the most time I show up, no matter how difficult.
Because I had promised and actually could go climb a mountain that evening, I showed up despite my fear. Miraculously, the reality was a million times better than the horrific physical meltdown I’d imagined.
Fear became an awesome reality by “not [hiking] faster than I had strength.”
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
As I went slower, at my own pace, I set a new personal record. Roxy could have easily climbed in the mountain in half that time, but she willingly walked with me at my pace in my weakness. I felt no comparison or competition as we walked together, Roxy invigorated by the beauty visible at a leisurely pace and me chugging along in profuse sweat. We walked toward the same goal and reached it together.
[I]f ye are prepared ye shall not fear…. I will be merciful unto your weakness. Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours.
Jesus Christ also walks with me, at my slow pace and in my weakness. Stunningly, by His grace, He’s actually offered to not only strengthen that weakness but often remove the weakness. But I have to be willing to fully face and understand the weakness to give it to Him. And so we walk together, Jesus merciful to my weakness and me learning to be strong.
About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.