Why You Should Tell the Story of the Mountain You Climbed

Why You Should Tell the Story of the Mountain You Climbed

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.)

The path ended near an icy-blue lake which, according to our GPS, stood at 13,850 feet above sea level. If we had known, we would have taken on the neighboring trail.

My husband and I had always wanted to climb one of Colorado’s Fourteeners—summits that reach above 14,000 feet. But we waited too long. He didn’t think he had it in him because cancer was revving up its engines.

Turns out, the trek we chose that day was across a deep gorge from one of the trails leading up to 14,000 feet. In our ascent, we caught glimpses of hikers on that path and realized—too late—that we could have done it. We could have boasted of conquering one of the Rocky Mountain Fourteeners.

Feeling Knocked Down? Lessons Learned When Bears Attacked My Trees; tell my storyLife Is Like Conquering a Mountain

The uphill trek on that particular day reminded me of a mountain my husband and I climbed that took thirteen long years. The journey started out with his job lay-off. It steepened when we eventually sold our home and depleted our retirement investments to make ends meet.

Through the switchbacks, we picked up my mom and carried her as she slipped further into Alzheimer’s. We pressed on toward more rugged terrain—a terminal cancer diagnosis—uncertain of how we were going to negotiate this part of the climb. But we did, scrambling over the uneven boulders and taking turns encouraging each other until we came out onto a high, barren plateau with its far-flung views.

As a result of cancer, we established a non-profit. Working around our day jobs, we shared our story and our ‘cancer uphill-climbing techniques’ to survivors and caregivers in all regions of the country.

When widowhood paid a visit, the route grew even more vertical. But I was already conditioned for steep climbing. And there was Jesus, breaking trail for me, walking beside me, providing the grit and grace to persist.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

It Was Time to Tell My Story

After settling into widowhood, my adult children encouraged me to take up public speaking again. But my husband and I had shared our story tag-team style and I was fearful of occupying the stage alone. What if no one laughed? What if it wasn’t as interesting coming from only one voice?

And then an invitation to speak to nursing students presented itself. These future nurses laughed in all the right places. And I may have made a couple of them cry.

“Tell the story of the mountain you climbed,” wrote Morgan Harper Nichols. “Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”

“Tell the story of the mountain you climbed,” wrote Morgan Harper Nichols. “Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”

I became proactive in finding platforms and microphones and small gatherings and large auditoriums. And I prayed that my story would spark bravery as I nudged audiences toward sharing their own amazing narratives.

We can embrace the hard places. The Lord is my strength and shield. My heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

And when it’s time, we can choose vulnerability and share our stories with others. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Because our stories are worth telling. Because they’re beautiful tales of redemption, of becoming whole again after hurt and loss. Because revealing our sacred wounds could well be a page in someone else’s survival guide.


Listen to this podcast episode with author and speaker Elizabeth Bristol, who shares her story of overcoming heartache and trauma: How Do I Begin to Heal from Past Emotional Hurt? with Elizabeth Bristol -186

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