This past weekend I was camping and hiking with my brother Rob in East Tennessee. One misty afternoon I decided to do a solo hike up to the top of a small mountain near our camp. I hiked up and up, zig zagging back and forth as the trail took me 1,000 feet in elevation. Somewhere along the way I started to tell myself a story. A thought came to me: “I have to make it to the top of this mountain. This mountain represents my life. If I make it to the top, everything will be okay.”
Where did this story come from? Me? God? My past? Society’s Expectations? Not sure, but it felt pretty real in that moment.
I kept climbing and pushing myself until I took a break at about 20 minutes from the top. I realized it would be dark in 90 minutes. If I continued, it would mean it would be dark before I made it halfway down, and this mountain trail had a lot of narrow ledges. Besides, my brother was expecting me back soon. I had to turn back. I was disappointed that I had failed.
About halfway down the mountain I started laughing. Where did that story come from? Why do I think I have to achieve the top of a mountain? Who was telling me that? I love a mountain hike, and I love trying to push myself to get to the top. But my brain had told a story on top of the actual experience I was having. I was laughing because I remembered that the stories we tell ourselves are not real. They are just thoughts. God isn’t telling us those stories. I’m at a time of life in which I have a lot of challenges. But that mountain isn’t one of them. I enjoyed my hike down and got back to camp before dark. Rob had started a campfire and was making a delicious foil dinner for us. I was back. What’s my true story? My true story is the one God tells me. I am his beloved child. He created me, he sustains me, he loves me. That’s my true story. What stories do you hear? Do you hear God’s true story?