I stood on the smallish ledge, looking over the wide canyon. I was anchored in, so I could enjoy the crazy blue sky that can only be found in the mountains and the action on the trails below. It was fun to look at the people below, and some were looking back. I saw one lady taking pictures of us. Due to a trick of acoustics in the canyon, I could hear conversations and amused myself trying to figure out which group was saying what.
Then I turned back to where my climbing partner sat parked on the rock and tried to quell my impatience. Due to the unseasonably warm weather, we had decided to forsake the gym and try to hit the rock instead. (This time of year, I'd rather have cold and snow- too many fun winter activities to do!- but you do the best you can with what you've got.) As I waited for her to make her next move, I reminded myself that being on the rock is always much harder than standing at the bottom of the route. On the bottom, the angles always look more gentle and the hand and foot holds always look larger than they really are.
She climbed fairly well, if slowly, as she readjusted to that type of climbing. However, she was not comfortable on the rock, so she kept grabbing the rope, clinging to it. I was sympathetic to that impulse. When you're uncomfortable on the rock, and you're having a hard time finding a secure place for your hands, the rope is so solid and present and safe.
From my secure perch, I yelled at her to let go of the rope.
Yes, I understood why she'd want to hold onto the rope, but it didn't mean that I was going to let her do it. It may feel safer to hold the rope, but as the belayer, I have to feed the rope through so that she has enough rope to make the next move, and I have to keep it tight enough that if she slips, she doesn't fall any farther than absolutely necessary. I need to make adjustments quickly, and I can't do that when she has a death grip on the rope. Although she may feel safer and more in control, she is taking away the safety and control I can give her as her belayer. She is actually making it more difficult and less safe for herself.
She let go of the rope and eventually continued to work her way up. I looked at her and the impossibly blue sky behind her, and I wondered. What am I desperately clinging to that is really making it harder for me? What areas of my life am I not letting go and allowing God to guide me safely where I need to go?