Be assured: None has to climb alone

  The story of Junior Seau’s suicide is still reverberating in the sports world. The all-Pro NFL linebacker who played for 20 years took his own life a few weeks ago, and no one really knows why. The best guess is that football was Junior’s life and he simply did not know how to live without it. That may be it. If so, it leads to another question, one repeated over and over by players and coaches who were good friends of Junior Seau: “If he was struggling so badly, why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t he tell somebody?” Former quarterback Dan Fouts perhaps said it best: “With all tragedies, there are lessons to be learned, lessons that must be learned by all of us. The lesson here is, if you need help, get help. It’s out there. All you have to do is swallow your pride and ask for it. We all need help at times.”
    That story reminded me of a lesser-known event from 2005. Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, at 19,500 feet. Larry and Mary Warren spent seven days climbing that mountain, but they almost didn’t make it. The last day of the climb was to begin at 10 p.m. and end the next afternoon at the summit. Larry asked why they would be climbing in the dark, not able to see where they were going. The guide answered, “Because if you could see where you were going, you would not climb!”
    With only five hours to go to the summit, the guide had to make a decision. Some in the group were slowing the others down. “I will separate the group into two, so that you can all keep up your pace and get to the top.” Larry said the guide separated the 12 climbers into a group of 10, and a group of two: Larry and Mary! Seems they were slowing down the pack just a bit.
    Two guides remained with Larry and Mary, and the others raced ahead toward the summit. Larry said that the last five hours were grueling, and he was praying that Mary would quit so he could quit with her. Finally, with three hours left, Mary was done. “I can’t go any further,” she said to the guides. “Can you go for 30 more minutes?” the guide asked. Mary agreed she could, thinking that the summit was a half-hour away. “He used that same line about five more times!” Larry said, but it worked to keep them motivated and moving.
    With only an hour to go to the top, Mary was completely worn out. That’s when the guides did for the Warrens what we all need when it seems we cannot go on. Larry said, “One went in front of us and Mary held onto his backpack. The second went behind her, pushing her on the back, and I came behind the second guide and held on as these men literally pushed and pulled us up the mountain! Yes, we kept walking … we did our part … we did the best we could, but it was the strength and determination of these experienced guides that helped us make it to the top.”
    All of us need a push or a pull to get through difficult times; life itself can be a tough climb. That’s why the Bible says, “God composed the body … (so) that the members should have the same care for one another.” We need each other.
    If you need help, and we all do, ask for it. None of us has to climb alone.