The Beast In Me

“The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars.”  –    Johnny Cash

If you tell yourself something for long enough, eventually you are going to start to believe it.  Whether good or bad…. over time you will start to develop an idea of yourself and it can be difficult to overcome, especially if the belief is negative.

Never in my 41 years have I thought of myself as a beast. In fact looking at the word makes me laugh. When I look at myself I don’t see beast. I actually see…well…. this…..

I tend to think of myself as frail and weak rather then a beast.

Until this past weekend.

For a while I have wanted to do a night hike. I  have conquered so many fears and ideas about myself the past 6 months I wanted to tackle a big one….THE DARK.

I HATE the dark. Not being able to see what is around me, and having to rely on other senses….well that freaks me out. But I knew it was time to tackle my fear and plan a night hike. Luckily I found 5 friends who wanted to do the same, so this past weekend…. off we went, climbing 5.5 miles up to Mt. LeConte to see the sunrise.

As we began the journey, it didn’t take me long to realize, that the dark was NOT really that scary.  It was actually kind of awesome and beautiful.  Our group went up the mountain enjoying the early morning hours (we started at 2 am), and having fun friendly banter. We went the first 1.7 miles in a little over 30 minutes…which is a pretty good pace. It was here that we took our first break, and where my frailness started to show.

Immediately upon stopping my body went into a cold clammy sweat.  You know the feeling I am talking about….I wanted to toss my cookies.  Not wanting to appear weak to my hiking mates, I played it off as the 2 Krispy Kreme donuts I ate before we started. I dank a sip of Gatorade and proceeded up the mountain.

However, it didn’t take long for it to become crystal clear that something was wrong. I no longer kept pace with the group and quickly fell way back. My legs felt like they weighed about 50 lbs. each and all I wanted to do was…..well…puke my guts out.

“This is not happening.  This is NOT happening.” I kept telling myself over and over. We were all so excited for this night, and here I was…Miss Buzz Kill.  I did not want to ruin this for my friends. What would they think of me?

“Jessica can’t hang.”

“We are only 2 miles in….how weak can you be?”

“Great…someone will have to babysit her now.”

Determined to keep up, I pushed on….slowly and becoming more weak with each and every step.  I could see the headlamps getting farther and farther away. One of my hiking mates assigned herself to me and even though she could have pushed on and kept up with the others she stayed behind me….watching me inch my way up.  This only added to my frustration, because now I was totally ruining her night.

At one point I had to go off by myself…. I had to cry alone. This was hard and I just wanted to stop. I wanted to find a rock and just sit until they came back down in a few hours. Typically this would be the point in the trip where I would turn to my BFF, Little Debbie, but since I was quite ill, even she could not help me out of this one.

Defeated, I walked back to my waiting group and proceeded up the mountain just a little slower then a snail. Finally, 4 hours after I started, which is actually quite good for how crappy I felt. I made it to the lodge. I still had a little ways to go to the meeting spot, but I knew I could endure it, if I had already made it this far.

Suddenly after looking down for so long, I brought my eyes up to the horizon and saw this…..

The picture cannot do what I saw any justice. It truly was the most spectacular thing I had ever seen.  I knew without a doubt this was my gift from God. Suddenly, I felt much better. Weak…but better.

As I was walking up to our meeting point I kept repeating Philippians 1:6

He will finish what He has started.

I knew I could not quit. My maker would not quit. I must find it within me to keep going. My frail and fragile bars on my cage were suddenly loosened and the beast in me came out. I flew up the final half mile to my destination.

I still feel miserable for being a buzz kill for my friends. I didn’t get to join in the fun, or banter along the way, and I missed out on some new inside jokes, but they made me feel good about finishing and were so supportive even when I wanted to cry.

Sometimes we believe ourselves when we say we are weak. It is easy to get discouraged when everyone else blazes on with no struggle or pain. You feel defeated, a disappointment, and a disaster in waiting.

But don’t believe it.

Even in your weakest, darkest, suffering your beast can come out and you can overcome. We are stronger then we give ourselves credit for.


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