There is a round tower in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have never been there, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can view these wonderful pictures. I can imagine what it would be like to enter its expansive doorways (said to be large enough to take a horse carriage through them). I can imagine what it would be like to walk or ride up the wide spiral passageway to climb to the top. I have heard the climb is more than the length of two American football fields. I can imagine the twists and turns as I continue to climb, anxious to see the top where I am told there is an observation deck giving breath-taking views of the entire city. I am told you can see all the way to Sweden, connected to Denmark by a sturdy, modern-day bridge. I am told from another view, you can see the royal cathedral where the original Thorvaldsen Christus and the Twelve Apostles are cast in precious marble. Even more, there is an observatory at the top where you can settle in at night to view distant planets and stars and gaze into the eternal heavens. I would love to travel here someday just to have the experience of climbing the ever-turning ramp, just to peer through the wrought-iron rail surrounding the deck, and to gaze at the stars in the skies above. Then, I would love to hop on a bike and race back down as is the tradition every year. I am not interested in winning the annual race, but in feeling the thrill of the climb to the top and being able to race back down.
I have spent my career helping individuals overcome life challenges. I have had what I consider to be the sacred privilege of helping people to face personal demons, wrestle with horrific traumas, and face down terrible addictions and weaknesses. I stand in awe at the resilience of people as I walk with them through the valleys and shadows of life. I am constantly amazed at what people can do–and what people can overcome. I am humbled at the blessing which is mine each time I enter my office to help another.
It is difficult to overcome life’s challenges. A common theme is the discouragement which comes when most problems take time to overcome. All too often, individuals struggle with despair and hopelessness when challenges do not bend and crumble at first (or even second) efforts. Too many give up at these moments. In those times, I have tried to craft a visual for them to help them to continue their journey and not give up. It has been to talk to them about climbing a tower such as this.
I try to help dear friends imagine the climb in these somewhat dark tunnels. The walls are all the same. The windows are just like the last set you passed. In those first winding steps, the view seems to never change as you gaze out those windows to see outside. You still see the side of the neighboring building–nothing exciting. Nothing appears to be changing. There is just more of the same. Yet, with each step forward, you are climbing. While it may appear at first that you are not getting anywhere–not making any progress at all, you are, of a certainty, still climbing. You may feel discouraged as your breathing becomes labored and your calves begin to hurt. Again, as you look around, you may have a hard time believing you are really getting anywhere. It will feel like it is pointless to take another step. You may point outside to what appears to be the exact same view you saw before and say “What is the point? I am obviously not getting anywhere.” You may want to quit the climb feeling you are just not capable.
If you will just keep going, trusting in the climb, you will reach the top. Through the curving ramps, with each step you take, you are rising higher and higher. You are always moving closer to the top. If you but continue to work forward, you will make it. What wonder will welcome you there! The view will be breathtaking! You will be able to see for miles and miles in every direction. You will rejoice in continuing your climb! You will be able to enter the observatory and see the heavens. You will wonder if you are seeing into eternity! It will be a glorious moment.
So when you are facing life challenges, seeking to change some aspect of your bad habits, or wrestling to overcome addictions, discouragements, or other difficulties, remember the round tower and keep pushing on. The view from the top is worth it!