No one likes problems quite like a rock climber.

I don’t know why I have been thinking about rock climbing this week, but for some reason the word climbers use for a new route is problem. This thought has run through my mind for several days now, so today I’ll share what my thoughts were and why.

First, I was thinking about how smart it is to call it a problem. My boys, when they first started climbing, introduced me to this term, and over the years I have found great value in the use of the word problem in this setting. A problem is a route, usually a new route that someone wants to climb. Sometimes it can even be as specific as certain holds on the wall or moves within a route that are referred to problems. The reason they are called problems, is because they are difficult to accomplish, but not impossible. Each climber is aware of other climbers that can maneuver through that route, so they know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of figuring it out.

This has given my boys a new perspective on “problems” they encounter in life. In rock climbing it takes time, persistence and patience to overcome their climbing problem. Overcoming the problem means they are now a better climber than they were and that they can move forward on their progress by trying new challenging routes. The routes are rated, so they can easily see that they have progressed in their climbing abilities. But they are also learning, at least most of the time, that life is full of problems. Not unsolvable problems, but things that are going to take dedication, work, persistence and patience to overcome.

I have also found it interesting to watch finals competitions at climbing competitions. The final rounds are usually the top 4 or 5 climbers from the competition. They climb a set of routes each one timed for 4 minutes. They rest for 4 minutes after each round and only get 1 – 4 minute attempt at each route or problem. If they fall and still have time they can get back up and try again, but when the timer runs out, that’s it. They are not allowed to see the routes until the timer starts. When I first watched these competition I was surprised to see the climbers pause, sometimes for 20 or 30 seconds and simply look at the wall. Their hands twisting and turning in the air. At first I thought they were wasting time, figure it out when you get on there, but I soon realized however, that they were studying out the problem in their minds, making some preliminary decisions about how to grip, where to place hands and feet, what is usable and what isn’t, etc. Then they start to climb. Sometimes they climb without issue to the top, but most times they fall at least once. Never giving up, they reevaluate what they’ve just done, looking closely at where they fell, deciding how to change what they’d done, and then get back on the wall and try again.

In the finals competition they may not achieve that particular route, but there are points along the way for grading purposes. However, when climbing in their own gyms they can practice and practice until they master that route and then they move on to the next hardest problem. What’s also amazing is that they never tire of solving new problems. Sometimes in life we face problems, and even if we conquer those problems we’d like life to then be more simple and easy, how often do we intentionally go out seeking a new problem to challenge us?

Growth happens when we are challenged. Floating along easily through life never promotes growth or pushes us along the path of life very far. We have to have resistance and break down our muscles in order to build them up, and we have to have similar resistance to grow and improve in our every day life. Challenges will always come. We can either see them as hardships and try to avoid them, or we can look at them like a rock climber and embrace the problems ahead and work through them. If we fail the first time, we just need to step back, reevaluate, and get back on the wall, trying and trying until we conquer.

3 thoughts on “Problems”

  1. That analogy sure works well. The boys have really stuck with rock climbing and it undoubtedly is good training for analyzing and mastering life’s many challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have had “problems” on my mind lately. In my case, the Lord is asking me to develop patience and trust. Patience to understand that my line of sight is rather limited compared to His, and trust that He has a one of a kind path for me.

    Peace the Lord says is found in surrendering my desires for His and trusting in His convenants to bless me in that process. Those blessings can be difficult to endure but essential in massaging my awareness to “see” my desire, or desires, which in turn, define my actions. If my desires continue to be independent from His will, the blessings may be challenging to endure, yet if I can step away from me, and see adversity as opportunities, I can develop joy, or peace, in the refiners fire.

    I am trying to have faith to lose my self, and trust that I wont be lost in the process. That He will find me, all alone, hitchhiking on the hwy of desire🙏😇

    Liked by 1 person

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