This past Sunday my family and I went on our annual hiking trip to the Mohonk Mountain Preserve. For those of you who are not familiar with this hike, it is an extremely difficult climb on a treacherous terrain of sharp rocks, small caves, and the ever-so-famous “Lemon Squeeze,” where you must contort your body in order to squeeze through narrow openings towards the daylight.
Once we arrived at the beginning of the trail, we began to determine who was going to take on this “beast of a climb” and who was going to relax by the lake. There were five risk-takers who decided that they would conquer the “Lemon Squeeze,” one of which is my cousin, Danny. Danny was inflicted with a stroke upon birth and has a deficit of strength and coordination of one side of his body. Many of the family members, who have experienced the wrath of the Lemon Squeeze on prior occasions, tried their best to coax Danny not to partake in the festivities in fear that he would either get severely injured or simply fail, but Danny would not stand for these recommendations and was determined to participate.
As we began, I made sure to situate myself behind Danny, just in case he had any problems, but I have to admit that I was petrified. This is a difficult climb for someone who is in incredible physical shape, let alone someone who has deficits with half of their body. From the onset of this voyage, Danny was struggling, he fell, he was in pain, but he did not give up. I looked into his eyes and I saw FEAR, but even more importantly, I saw COURAGE. There was a point that he literally fell off a rock and knocked me down with him, but he refused to quit and was determined to finish the climb.
To make a long story short, Danny made it. He finished the Lemon Squeeze, and for the first time in his life did not allow his disability from preventing him to partake in an activity. Was he afraid? Of course, he was. He was probably terrified, but his drive for success, his determination to prevail, and his desire for accomplishment allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the mountain.
Now Danny’s conquest may have inspired some, or potentially brought a tear to your eye, or may seem to have nothing to do with your current situation, but regardless of the way that you interpreted this story, the message is timely, especially with what we are experiencing as a nation.
I am sick and tired of hearing the line, “It is a bad economy out there, I am so afraid.” What is this supposed to mean? I wish that I were as powerful as all of these news stations because they have accomplished their goal by utilizing the power of words to escalate people’s fears. What they have done is brainwashed America to be “more careful,” when in actuality they have taught us to be more AFRAID. We are scared that we will have to foreclose on our homes; scared that our financial portfolios will go to zero; scared to lose our jobs in fear that we will not have health benefits and a consistent paycheck, and scared of a recession or maybe even a depression.
We are living every single moment SCARED about the next step, which has not even taken place and even more FRIGHTENED of the one that will follow. This approach has the capacity to lead our nation into complacency, where people are willing to simply weather the storm and try to “survive.” But if Danny were to simply try to “survive” when climbing the Lemon Squeeze, he might have gotten hurt because he would not have had the right attitude to actually succeed.
This goes for all of you as well, if you are living a life where you can not go to sleep at night or wake up in the morning because of the “economy” then you are going to miss out on the opportunity that I call LIFE. Was Danny careful on this journey? Of course, as should all of you because this is a precarious time in American history, but Danny did not allow this “careful mentality” to prevent him from doing what he intended to do at Mohonk.
I would like to challenge each and every one of you to control your fears. The current situation is unfortunate, but it is NOT LIFE-THREATENING unless you allow it to be. If there is something critical or pertinent to deal with in your life, whether it is a business opportunity, or change in your job, relationships, or living situation, then stop being complacent and do something about it. For Danny, he was sick and tired of being “left out,” and instead of allowing his disability and fear to prevent him from achieving his goal, he CONTROLLED his emotions and climbed Mount Mohonk. This past weekend was a pivotal moment in Danny’s life, and I encourage all of us to learn from his determination and use our current “circumstances,” as a stepping-stone to take action rather than be defeated by our fears.
The famous author Erica Jong says it best, “I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me.” So the time is here and the time is now to STOP BEING AFRAID, stop being immobilized by your fears, and join Danny on his quest through the Lemon Squeeze of life. I believe in all of you.
By Jared Yellin
Meditation: The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. – Proverbs 28:1
You will succeed because Jesus loves You!