Celebrating the small wins
Every day at Mission Australia, goals - large and small - are achieved for the people we work with. Our Western Australian Chaplain Scott Vawser recently shared this inspiring story of a small win with a young person from our Perth-based Drug and Alcohol Youth Service (DAYS):
"I was recently asked to attend a camp with young people from our DAYS program.
Our aim was to head south to the Stirling Ranges National Park near Albany WA, stay overnight and climb the tallest mountain in the national park. Then we planned to head to Albany to see the awesome ocean cliffs, grab an ice-cream at the beach and head back to camp for our last evening together before the long drive home.
As we headed off from the car park at Bluff Knoll, the third tallest mountain in WA, I overheard one young person, David*, suggest that this was the biggest physical challenge he'd ever undertaken.
"It's even bigger than taking the stairs at the corrections office!" David exclaimed.
I could hear him behind me on the trail struggling to keep up; his self-talk was far from positive. Just 500 metres into the walk, he announced that he had left his asthma inhaler back at the cabin and he would have to pull out.
David and I agreed to return to the cabins and retrieve his inhaler together.
As we continued, David was constantly murmuring comments under his breath.
"I can't do this, I've messed this up for everyone. I'm such a failure, what a loser for leaving behind my puffer."
When we arrived back at the campsite, David announced that this was as far as he was going - that he'd rather just stay here and swim in the pool than attempt the 1099 metre climb to the Bluff Knoll's summit. I chatted with him about the way he was sabotaging his own abilities with his words and that his climb had failed inside his mind way before his body would ever give up.
We made it back to the car park at the mountain with inhaler in hand. As we pulled in, David turned to me and self-consciously asked me to pray that God would help him reach the top of the mountain.
About every 500 metres of the 3km climb, David decided that it was all too much, but was able to overcome this with yet another decision to continue. Around one corner, not far from the summit we bumped into the nine others on their way down from their successful summit bid. The genuine joy when the team saw David this high up the ridgeline was infectious.
People were giving high fives, fist pumps and shouts of encouragement for David as he continued on this personal challenge. One of the other clients, Nathan*, asked if he could continue with us back up to the top, so the three of us continued on towards the summit.
We could see the summit, but David was spent. He laid down on a large smooth rock and said "this is 'top' enough for me. I'm done; I think I will throw up!" I tried to put on my best school teacher voice:
"You will not stop this close to the summit; I know you can do this! I have not dragged you this far up a mountain for you to stop 200 metres from the top. You can drink more water, rest as long as you need and then get on your feet and keep walking upwards!" I said.
After an awkward pause and some odd looks from the other client, David looked me in the eye and said "I'm gonna do this!"
The joy on David's face when he reached the summit was like nothing else. He and the other client embraced as they knew this was a special moment.
We remained at the top enjoying the view before the long hard journey back to the car. The mind games continued as we descended. David's legs felt so weak and at one stage he suggested he was not able to go down the trail any further. When he couldn't think of another solution to get down, we all chuckled and just kept plodding down this Goliath of a mountain.
An exhausted David almost crawled into the carpark and turned around to see the giant he had just defeated, he sighed and said, "God gave me the strength to do that, there was no way I had it in me!"
Though there were ups and downs, I was so thankful for the opportunity to get alongside David and spur him on to achieve this goal.
Based in East Perth, DAYS provide young people and their families' access to a comprehensive range of free and confidential alcohol and other drug services.
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