Having a positive mindset had been so foreign to me growing up. I grew up with a spirit of suspicion, with a belief of hopelessness and failure and being punished for my actions continually. Still not sure how I developed that but I believe it was early on. I was used to being surprised with punishment and being led to believe I was different and inadequate and even inferior. So I only expected to fall short of everyone else, and still, from time to time, I'm plagued with these thoughts.
However, I recall my first experience with challenging myself to think differently than usual, at least if felt unnatural at the time, affirmatively about having the ability to do something that was a struggle for me. In this instance, I have always been the slowest hiker of anybody I was with. I could be out-hiked by anybody, and especially a group. I was always at the end of the group. It continually frustrated me and so I enjoyed hiking less as a result.
But on this one occasion I was hiking with a group up Mt. Masada. It was quite an incline. In fact, it was called the Snake Path. I felt weary, probably because of inadequate sleep to add to the load. I decided that instance to think to myself and not out loud, "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this." Then, I found myself looking up toward my destination. Every now and then I would revert back to the inclination of "I can't" and it would become difficult for me again. But when I tried to focus on "I can" the hike became easier. I even recall setting my gaze farther ahead of me as I climbed that steep incline. I still may have arrived later than everyone else, but I got up there in time for the sunrise without much feeling of weariness.
Then, surprisingly, and for the first time I can recall, I sprinted down the mountain like one of those sure-footed gazelles I had seen. I was down the mountain in a very short time and probably one of the first in our group. I usually hike slowly down a mountain because of not being sure of my footing.
It's funny to me now looking back now and realizing that this occurred in Israel, a land charged with God's presence, and I was there before I ever embarked upon a relationship with Him.