Norman Vincent Peale said, “To get where you want to go, you must keep on keeping on.” This is the mantra of mountain climber Adam Hodges, who climbed the highest mountain in Russia last year. While listening to his story, it occurred to me that struggling with life’s problems and reaching goals is often like climbing high mountains.
My mom never climbed an actual mountain, but she conquered a host of huge problems, because she knew how important it was to “keep on keeping on.” In her endeavor to encourage me to give a hard-to-do task extra effort, she would remind me of The Little Engine That Could. And then she would repeat with me, “I think I can--I think I can--I think I can.” Often, at the end of the chore, we would laugh together and shout, “I thought I could! I thought I could!”
When I begin to work through a problem or attempt to accomplish a hard-to-reach goal, I must ease out of my comfortable corner, expecting to experience some fear and discomfort.
However, the most miserable time for me is before I begin the climb, the time when I’m standing at the bottom of the hill—dreading, doubting, doing nothing, just standing still. That is the time those old negative thoughts begin to attack: “What makes you think you can climb a mountain, anyway? Why don’t you just give up on this one?”
Sometimes I stand there awhile and listen, shivering in the cold. But while I’m standing still, my little hill is building into a daunting mountain inside my mind.
That’s the time to remember The Little Engine That Could, and this is what I must say:
“I think I can take the first step—but not alone.
I think I can reach for Your Hand, Lord.
I think I can trust You, Lord, to hold on to me if I start to fall.
I think I can accomplish this assignment You’ve given me.
I think I can keep moving and climbing.
I think I can take one more step—one more step—one more.
I think I can—I think I can—I think I can.”
When Adam Hodges reached the top of Mt. Elbrus, the view was spectacular; he has never regretted going there. But mountain climbers never stay on top of a mountain very long. Adam says, “Once you reach the summit, you celebrate momentarily, and then you must prepare to go back down.”
And most likely, while tramping down that mountain, Adam was planning his next climb.
Life is filled with more mountains to climb, problems to conquer, and goals to reach. When I’m standing still and my little hills begin to build into huge mountains in my head, I’ll remember what mamma would say: “Just keep on keeping on.” Then I’ll take the first step up, knowing that one day I’ll be able to tramp down the side of a huge mountain saying, “I THOUGHT I COULD! I THOUGHT I COULD! I THOUGHT I COULD!”
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