Coming to the End of Ourselves

I was out with my husband hiking the Manitou Incline here in Colorado – it’s only a mile to the top but 2,000 feet vertical gain. Then it’s about a 4 mile hike on a gentler trail to get back down. A nice morning’s workout.

I got to thinking about all the ways I try to get out of my comfort zone, do hard things, conquer challenges that scare me. I purposely push myself to my limits and beyond sometimes, because it reminds me that I can always do more than I think I can.

I learned to scuba dive because I was afraid of the ocean—as a California girl growing up body surfing, I was tossed by the waves and sucked into the undertow one too many times. Becoming a scuba diver didn’t take away my fear but it always reminds me of how attentive we need to be to details—they can mean the difference between life and death.

When I was around 30 I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 12,000 feet, just because I knew it would scare me. For months afterwards, I kept telling myself whenever things were hard, “I jumped out of an airplane. I can do this.”

Sometimes I ski on black diamonds even though I’m not really good enough; I’ve taken rock climbing lessons although I’m terrified of ever climbing a real mountain; I’ve been whitewater rafting four separate times on Class III and IV rapids, which scares the daylights out of me every time. I like to do challenging hikes and runs, although I haven’t run a marathon and I doubt I ever will.

In all of this, I’m always seeking that moment when I come to the end of myself, when I no longer have the strength or the courage to go on. That’s the moment I have to reach down inside and find reserves I didn’t know I had. It’s also the moment I have to open myself up to the strength from outside of me, the courage from beyond, the reserves that only God can provide when there’s nothing left of me.

And in pushing myself to my limits in physical endeavors, I think I’m trying to prepare myself for the real-life moments where I’m going to come to the end of myself. The times when parenting is hard or work is hard; the times when tragedy hits, when grief overwhelms, when despair crushes the spirit. In those moments I want to already know what it means to come to the end of myself and then find out… there’s More.

I can do this.

What happens when you come to the end of yourself?

In what ways do you purposely push yourself beyond your limits?

Let’s talk… have a good weekend and I’ll see you Monday.

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  2. Marie on June 27, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    I heard this phrase “coming to the end of ourself” tonight in a sermon that Dr. Charles Stanley was preaching. I’m amazed that after several weeks of feeling turmoil in my spirit, missing sleep, finding little solice in God’s Word or my local preacher, it’s so simple. I am REALLY at the end of my rope (that’s how we say it in the South) and now it’s God’s turn to make some lemonade out of this mess of lemons I have around me. This might sound trite but I know my Father can now begin to make the changes in me that I need in order to do whatever He wills. And as painful as I am sure these changes will be, I am deeply tired of being spiritually bankrupt and depending on myself. Now the poor in spirit can inherit His blessing.

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  5. Dorothy Bentley on February 7, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    >I push to the end of myself when I have over a group of teen girls and I don't know what to tell them about heart-wrenching issues. I pray desperately needing God's wisdom.

    I push to the end of myself when I speak before a group, or when I do a skit. I can't do it. That's when God hears me collapse within, and God takes over and carries me.

    I push to the end of myself many times with my writing. I give, and give, but I need more. I pray and ask God to give life to the words.

  6. Carlene on February 1, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    >I force myself to drive through underwater tunnels. I'm working my way up to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel System! Of course we tell ourselves that our fears are irrational but then there was the Sully plane that landed in the harbor in New York (was that anywhere near an underwater tunnel–yikes!) If I ever make it to the CBBTS, I'll be remembering your words from this post, Rachelle.

  7. Kelli Angelone on January 31, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    >What a good question. Honestly, right now, I have no good answer. Every time I find myself dealing with more stress than I had previously determined possible, I eat pizza. Or ice cream.

    I hadn't realized there were more positive ways to think about it, which might make the situation seem nicer.

  8. Susan on January 30, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    >I'm not familiar with mountains or snow too much. Even though my family traveled, we didn't vacation in the cold mountain areas. It does sound like fun. I would have loved to have been able to ski as a child or adult.

    We were a family of athletes. I appreciate what you said about the undertow. It's funny but no matter how strong a person is as a swimmer, the knowledge of the power that exists in an undertow is something to be respected.

    I have pushed past my comfort zones in business in my 30's and
    40's. I'd like to do again in the future.

    I think that one area of starting three businesses from scratch, gave me a tremendous amount of confidence in overcoming fears in general.

    I had my children young starting at 21, so I didn't feel I could go out on a limb or risk a limb to prove to myself what I could handle.

    Life has a way of testing us all along the way whether we're up for it or not.

    My risks were tough to me because they involved going way outside of my personal comfort zone in order to be successful in business.

    Initially, I was petrified. Just like you stated, I was able to pull from past experiences in life when I was a teenager when I had to face my fears head on in order to accomplish something I dearly wanted.

    I don't think it matters much whether you're pushing the boundaries in a physical or mental manner, because you have to pull down deep and face your fears; it's tough.

    But what you gain from conquering your fears is certainly something that will provide a concrete foundation for life.

    You'll learn what truly matters is the fact that you did it, survived and gained invaluable insight.

  9. Ellen Schuknecht on January 30, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    >Dear Rachelle,

    I have been following your posts for awhile. (thanks to a recommendation by my daughter Erin MacPherson) "Getting to the end of yourself" is a phrase I often use with students and parents at my school. Yet I feel like I am just beginning to scratch the surface of what it really means myself. This past year has been one of emptying me so that God can truly take over – of letting go and jumping into His arms as I fall – of deciding self sufficiency just is not going to ever be sufficient enough. I am finally experiencing the peace that is found at the "end".

    You are an inspiration!

    Ellen Schuknecht

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  11. Carol J. Garvin on January 30, 2011 at 2:42 AM

    >You are amazing, not only because of all the things you've tackled but because of why you pushed yourself to do so. I feel like such a couch potato in comparison. The two times I forced myself beyond my comfort zone had nothing to do with physical activity but involved ignoring my introverted nature.

    I began a business as a professional dog show secretary and, while much of the prep was done at home, the actual shows involved interacting with hundreds of people and being in the limelight and on the microphones. I thought that was the most I'd ever have to stretch, until some years later I was asked to be a consultant for the filming of the movie 'Best In Show'. I knew everything about dogs and dog shows but absolutely nothing about movie-making. I was terrified, but did it anyway.

    I learned that if I prayed for guidance and He nudged me out of my cozy corner, He would also give me the strength to do what I was being asked to do, whether I thought I could or not. You'd think I would have known that, wouldn't you?

  12. Rachelle on January 29, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    >Dee Bright: Your rafting/hiking Grand Canyon trips sound awesome! We hiked down the Kaibob trail, stayed overnight at Phantom Ranch, and hiked out the Bright Angel trail. A really fun trip. Sounds like you have a wonderful spirit of adventure!

    Julie: I am so glad this post struck a chord with you… it seems like you've been instinctively pushing your own boundaries your whole life as a way of reassuring yourself that God is there. Sounds like you've been getting stronger and stronger all the time. How cool!

  13. Joules Evans on January 29, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    >I know I'm late to the discussion, but I've been thinking about this post since I drank it in with my coffee yesterday morning. And then, this morning I was reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, and the same theme of coming to the end of yourself was in the bottom of that coffee cup as well. I thought I'd share an excerpt:

    "When you know you're Hagar and you finally come to the end of yourself and all the water in your own canteen is gone and you know that you and your son are going to die if you don't get some joy to the lips and down the parched throat– and now; when you can no longer stand to see those you love die all around you from your emptiness; when the emptiness is so dark you are driven to struggle again for joy, to cry for joy to the Joy God there and you beg, sob– remember: You have to want to see the well before you can drink from it. You have to want to see joy, God in the moment."

    I like how Ann's words challenge me to reorient myself, by putting the proper spin on my circs because "there is always a well." I also like how your words challenge me further, to seek out those places. Brings to mind other wise counsel that when I am weak he is strong.

  14. Sharon K. Mayhew on January 29, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    >What an exceptional post, Rachelle! I usually just lurk around on agent blogs, but your post was really moving to me as a mother.

    I have pushed myself past my comfort zone both physically and metally many times for my daughter. I want her to see me doing things I am afraid of, so that she will try to do things that are out of her comfort zone. She puts herself out there, and I'm so proud. She's fourteen and had her first publication in December.

  15. Christina Suzann Nelson on January 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    >Great post. The sun is shining in Oregon today. I think I'll head out for an adventure!

  16. Christina Suzann Nelson on January 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    >Great post. The sun is shining in Oregon today. I think I'll head out for an adventure!

  17. pilot27407 on January 29, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    >Well, Rachel, congrats.
    You’re teaching writers a very important lesson—overcome your fears.
    The human mind is a wonderful thing. Once it decides to get something done it gives instructions to the body, and voila.
    And, one more thing. Never be afraid of what awaits at the end of the trail. We must accept the facts of life. The trail, as life itself, is a never ending endeavor. There would always be new summits to conquer, new peaks to climb.

  18. Kathleen Pooler on January 29, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    >Wow,Rachelle, this post really hits home! I have had several "coming to the end of myself experiences" related to my health~cancer, heart failure and dealing with an alcoholic son. Each time, I was forced to dig down deep into myself to find my own inner strength. Each time I came out stronger,more hopeful and more aware of God's presence in my life. My greatest challenges have turned out to be my greatest blessings. Once I faced my greatest fears, I found peace,joy and learned to live life on my own terms. For me that meant "Letting Go and Letting God"

    Great post and great reminder of finding the strength within.

  19. Julie Achterhoff on January 29, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    >Boy, did your post ring a true chord within me! I see you have about a million comments and probably won't even make it to mine, but I just had to say that I've always been the same way myself. I've asked myself many a time why I push myself seemingly beyond my limits, whether it was when I practiced midwifery for 16 years outside the law, or changing course midstream by beginning a writing career in my early forties. I've been this way as far back as I can remember, but you've given me some wonderful insight with your post. It really is a way of meeting God. When I "know" I don't have any more to give, yet there it is, I can see and feel a higher power is present. I had decided at some point that I was just being mean and hard on myself because of a truly brutal childhood. Now I see that out of my adversity I somehow came out stronger and with the ability to reach those higher planes.

  20. Leigh D'Ansey on January 29, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    >Wow, Rachelle, that's a steep incline in more ways than one. I'm not sure I've pushed myself to intentionally overcome fear or lethargy but I've done things that have been fearsome to me and then looked back and thought, "I did that so I can do this…" I'm afraid of heights so a bungee jump was a big deal for me (okay, the guys had to practically throw me off the landing because the queue behind me was down the street but still…), a somewhat spur of the moment trip to India on my own was an adventure, starting a business from scratch held many pitfalls. I do believe we are capable of so much more than we think we are and that learning is a lifelong process – once you're doing something, you're doing it.

  21. Jil on January 29, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    >These posts are so inspiring and it is so good to know I am not alone in being afraid of things I do. Walking my dog in the very early lonely darkness, helping a friend run a hundred mile race and train for it which meant running through the Sierras in the dead of night for hours and hours, Running many marathons and 10ks and training young horses for racing over fences, and show jumping in England. I have always been disappointed in myself for being afraid before I did each of these, and many other things but maybe it's not so bad. It's doing them that counts, and knowing I am not alone.

  22. Beth K. Vogt on January 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    >Just getting back to the post and all the comments. Need to get my pen out to copy down the quotes other people shared.
    This truly is one of the best blog posts I've ever read. And everyone's comments just deepened the significance of the post.
    Thanks, Rachelle–and thanks everyone else!

  23. Dee Bright on January 28, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    >Rachelle, your all-day zipline experience sounds amazing–and beautiful. Not sure my shaky knees would have held out that long! I decided to do the zipline trip only because I wanted to help celebrate my friend's 75th birthday! He and his wife led me to Christ many moons ago.

    I'm impressed you hiked both in and out of the canyon. That's a challenge! We took a much easier approach and split it up. The first time we got on rafts at Lee's Ferry, rafted for six days, then got off at Phantom ranch and hiked out of the canyon. Two years later we hiked down Bright Angel Trail, rafted for six days, and went out by helicopter. Both trips were incredible.

    Here's hoping we're still adventuring for many years to come!

  24. Jillian Kent on January 28, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    >You are an incredibly strong woman, Rachelle, and I don't just mean physical strength. You push yourself a lot. What ever life dishes out you'll deal with it. I've never found myself prepared to deal with the tragedies of life. Those unexpected things that happen in a blink.

    I've never thought about the feeling before but it's kind of like being too far under water and you're almost out of breath but then you break the surface and gulp in life again just when you thought you had nothing left. A God moment.

  25. Auxerre on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    >Getting to the end of oneself is to know oneself. You can't understand beauty until you understand pain.

  26. Crystal Jigsaw on January 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    >Having an autistic daughter, I rarely find myself at the end. I have no time to think before needing to pick myself up and carry on regardless. I came close to this feeling last year after suffering epileptic seizures, and I went through at the first half of 2010 wondering if I would ever see my daughter grow up. But I got through it, tough as it was, stripping me of my independence not to mention my driving licence and confidence, but now I'm back. And I'm more determined and fired up than I've ever been.

    Have a great weekend, too.

  27. Julie on January 28, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    >Thanks for this post, it truly inspired me, especially during this moment in my life when my worries seem to outweigh any joy.

    When I'm at the end of myself, I usually down a bottle of wine, weep uncontrollably for a few hours, then remind myself of how far I've made it because I'm a strong person.

    Then I get back up(usually the next day once the drunkenness wears off!)and fight my way through. I need to remember this now.

  28. JulieSurfaceJohnson on January 28, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    >I don't think I've ever pushed myself physically–nope, don't think so. Yet, after losing one child, nearly losing another, and adopting still another . . . after losing both my parents and my husband's parents . . . after taking on positions where the learning curve was impossibly high . . . I can truly say that God was with me, enabling me to do exceedingly more than I'd have ever thought possible.

    I guess that's why I'm fearless when it comes to living life and why I haven't given up when writing presents new challenges. I know I can do this and, with God's help, I will. "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1). I'm ready!

  29. Sharon A. Lavy on January 28, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    >We get brownie points for natural childbirth? Woo Hoo, maybe I am not such a wimp after all.

    And I delivered lambs. Had problems with no help and had to rely on God to help me save the mother and baby.

  30. Rachelle on January 28, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    >Dee: A couple summers ago we did a full-day tree-to-tree zipline tour through a remote forest in Colorado… wheeee! So fun. The longest zipline was 200 feet. Several of them crossed over a rushing river. It was awesome.

    I also hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back out.

    And ET @ Titus2:3-5: You're right! I did all-natural childbirth, no drugs, no epidurals, purposely forcing myself to go beyond what I thought I could endure. There were a few moments I wished I'd made a different decision…but overall, I think it gave me strength for my parenting journey.

  31. Michael K. Reynolds on January 28, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    >I've been at the end of myself so often it just seems like home. Living on the edge isn't for everyone, but it seems like it's always been part of God's design for me. I dream of cool, still waters.

  32. Kara on January 28, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    >Sometimes I get too comfortable in my skin and the only way I can grow is to jump out of it by challenging myself. There have been times when I have thought,"Okay, this is it. I can't go any further." And it is then that I feel God's hand literally lifting me up. That is an amazing feeling, and one that keeps me pushing forward.

  33. Dee Bright on January 28, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    >Yay! I so enjoyed reading your blog and subsequent posts! I discovered I'm not the only woman who likes to push the limits once in awhile–just to see if I can rise to the challenge or overcome fear!

    Most recently I did a 2-hour zipline course. I'm afraid of heights and did a lot of tree-hugging. It scared the beegeebies out of me, but it was invigorating. This summer while kayaking around Lake Tahoe we found ourselves in high wind and waves with water crashing over our boats! No place to get out, so didn't have much choice but to continue to the next beach. Other fun things have included being stranded on an Alaskan glacier, rafting in the Grand Canyon, and doing a photo safari in Africa.

    I'm officially a "senior," and I'm not ready to give up on things that may push me to my limits–but also allow me to learn and grow! Maybe that's why I'm a writer!

  34. Jill Kemerer on January 28, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    >What an honest and powerful post.

    When I come to the end of me, I always end up in God's arms. And it's like I just found myself for the first time. A better me emerges.

  35. Maria I. Morgan on January 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    >Wow! Not sure what that was all about! Blogger wouldn't post my comment, then proceeded to delete it!

    Great post, Rachelle! I'm afraid of heights and pushed myself to ride the aerial tramway up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto (over 8000 ft). The ultra-modern tramway had a rotating floor that made the experience extra-challenging!

    Coming to the end of myself reminds me that I'm not the one in control anyway – God is. I can step out in faith because I know He can be trusted! Have a wonderful weekend. God bless!

  36. Nikole Hahn on January 28, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    >I really enjoyed this post!

  37. Casey on January 28, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    >When I come to the end of myself, God is waiting, shaking His head, asking "Just didn't want to trust sooner, did you?"

    Like lately and TRUSTING if God wants me to get to ACFW, HE'LL provide the funds. So I've come to the end of myself and have had to say more than once, "Okay, God. I'LL BELIEVE and cease worrying."

    Very uplifting post, Rachelle, thank you.

  38. Jenna on January 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    >The good stuff is found at the end of ourselves. Even if we practice this in everyday life, we will find it to be true. We can find it in a class IV rapid, and we can find it in that exhausting moment when we've decided to squeeze in coffee time with someone who is lonely. Working with teenagers constantly pushes my limits. I'm grateful every day for not being strong enough to live a good life. If I could be 'good' on my own, why would I need a Savior?

  39. ET @ Titus2:3-5 on January 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    >I constantly remind myself, "You delivered five children without one single epidural. You can do THIS!" It works for pretty much any situation. That, and a heavy dose of God's grace and strength.

  40. Margo Kelly on January 28, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    >Oh my gosh! What a GREAT post!


    When I encounter a problem that *seems* tough, I think back to the toughest tragedies I've endured, and realize today's problem is really no big deal.

    However, when I was going through the toughest trial of my life, I thought I came to the "end" of myself; thought I could do no more; sat frozen on the couch…

    …and then, as you said:

    "the reserves that only God can provide when there’s nothing left of me" …saved me and pulled me through to the end.

    I thank God daily for the power and influence He has in my life.

    Great post. Enjoy your weekend.

  41. john on January 28, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    >I've just agreed to do all 214 lake district fells known as the 'wainwrights' after the famous gudebook writer…. in 40 days and 40 nights. For a charity running schools and a hospital in Nepal.
    I'm scared, it means over five mountains every day for 40 days consecutively, I don't know if I can do it. I don't want to fail.


  42. Ruby Blue on January 28, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    >I have a hard time making decisions. Whenever I have debated the pros and cons of something ad nauseum, whenever my brain is telling me one thing but my gut is telling me something else, that's when I reach the end of myself. I ignore my brain, go with my gut,and take the leap. And it's always painful, but it's a pleasurable kind of pain–the kind of pain you get when running a marathon. It's really a God moment, I think, because I find something beyond my brain and ego compelling me to move and to act.

  43. Jennifer Jones on January 28, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    >Well, for me, I've had both (the force yourself to do what you're afraid of), and the INFORCED–coming at you moments you refered to at the end. I've forced myself to live in a war zone where I didn't speak the language, and it did wonders. But, I gave up in grief when my child was diagnosed with sudden liver failure, and ultimately (amazingly) relaxed into being in the moment (as in this moment, he is comfortable and watching Blues Clues),with trust that God would do the work. I think the inforced moment helped me in my force myself moments–but not the other way around. Maybe just me.

    Anyway, GREAT post. Made me think (this early, no small thing)

  44. Michelle Wegner on January 28, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    >Great post Rachel. I do things like this whenever I can (never jumped out of a plane though) 🙂

    I do them for the same reasons as you mentioned. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and there are times I get so frustrated w/myself for feeling the way I do most days.

    When I accomplish something awesome, like hiking an impossible trail, I know I can do anything and my faith in myself is restored.

  45. Beloved Little Cricket on January 28, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    >I feel scared when my scale goes up, I get a letter from the IRS, and when I see flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

  46. Krista Phillips on January 28, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    >I've been at the "end" of myself for oh… about six months and three days. This was not a purposeful push though. Definitely not purposeful.

    This is more emotionally than physically though, although sometimes it because a physical ache (sometimes just for sleep if anything else.)

    But when I come to the end of myself, I realize just how much IHAVE to rely on God every single day. Even when I don't feel like I'm at the end, because I very might be at the end tomorrow.

    I've learned to live in TODAY, not tomorrow. I've learned to focus on the positive, not the crappy. I've learned that even in bad things, God is wonderful and faithful and steadfast.

    I guess to answer the question, what happens when I come to the end of myself, I become a better person. I grow deeper in a relationship with God. I think at the end we have a choice. We can stop (die) or grow (live).

    How is that for philosophical for a Friday morning

    I need to go write something funny now. Geez!

  47. Tamika: on January 28, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    >God always requires more of me. I never feel safe to get comfortable at any level, and thanks to the still small voice there is always a new climb ahead.

    Hearing the call to write is my biggest climb yet:)

  48. MJR on January 28, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    >Lovely post…thanks…

    My sister said something the other day that hit home–"once you stretch yourself, you don't go back to exactly to the way you were before." I've had to do some things lately that were totally out of my comfort zone and now that I've done them, I wonder now why I was so afraid.

  49. Rachelle on January 28, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    >I love reading everyone's stories! I'm so glad other people can relate to this.

    vmichelle: I haven't always pushed my own boundaries, and I still don't as much as I wish I did. I think the first time was deciding to become a certified scuba diver. I remember thinking, "I live a mile from the beach and I'm sick of being afraid to go in the ocean. I'm gonna take care of this once and for all." I am still scared when I scuba dive but I know I'm prepared, I'm qualified… and I'm always with my Divemaster hubby.

  50. Laura Drake on January 28, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. It put words to something I've lived by the past 15 years.

    I rode pillion behind my husband on a motorcyle for over ten years when we were in an accident; we hit a dog (don't worry,HE wasn't hurt!)and went down. I blew out my knee, and six months later, after surgery and physical therapy, I climbed behind my husband once more. I was terrified, but figured it would lessen with time. When it didn't, I panicked – riding was so much a part of us, I knew it would effect our marriage if I couldn't ride.

    When friend of mine suggested that we take the beginning rider's course, I looked at her in horror. I didn't want to learn to ride my OWN bike! But I couldn't argue with her logic; maybe I'd relax on the back, if I'd mastered the skills.

    I took the course, and never looked back. I have 100,000 miles under my belt – on my OWN motorcycle! Two of the three in the garage belong to me!

    I will have the self-confidence of that lesson for the rest of my life. I ride with pride!

  51. A.C. Townsend on January 28, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    >Thanks so much for sharing this. I've came to the end of myself four times – once I was forced; once I accepted a challenge; once I ended up there by taking on more than I could handle, but found that as long as I held onto the mighty hand of God, I could succeed anyway; and right now I have simply run out of me. I've done all that I know to do in several areas of my life, and I am praying to God for direction. Your message today reached me right where I am. Thank you again, and have a blessed and beautiful weekend.

    ~ Angela

  52. The Rejectionist on January 28, 2011 at 9:44 AM


  53. B.E.T. on January 28, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    >Wow, you are one impressive lady, I've gotta say!

    Well, only time thus far in my short life has been when I went on my first Busch Gardens roller coaster…I screamed my head off, wore flip flops (on a floorless no less) and felt like jelly by the end. But I had fun! So that's my little encouragement until I try the next thrill of going out of my comfort zone. 🙂

  54. Daniel F. Case on January 28, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    >To me, the "end of myself" is where the good stuff is as a writer.

    It's the place where I know I can't do this anymore, where every word I put on the page looks like something I scooped out of the cat's litter box.

    It's the place where I can honestly say to the God who told me to write, "Either you make this happen in me or it ain't happening."

    Every time I reach that point, He does.

    Every time He does, He amazes me.

    And every time I reach that place, He gently boots me out of my rut and says, "Go use the gifts I've given you."

    The end of myself is where the real creativity begins–where the good stuff is.


  55. Michelle DeRusha on January 28, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    >What happens when I come to the end of myself? I usually weep profusely…and then buck up and surge forward. That method works really well for me — Cry, surge…cry, surge — although it drives me husband a little bonkers.

    Happy weekend to you — may you take on another black diamond trail!

  56. The Napkin Dad on January 28, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    >The end is never really the end, it's just the end of your expectations of what should be.

    There are self-imposed, voluntary efforts that reach an 'end', doing something very grueling and scary. That is the end of what you think you can do, your expectation. But you find out you can do more and you do it.

    But there is another type of 'end'. That is when you are handed something you didn't ask for. When I was 18 I was blown up in a boat explosion. I was burned on 70% of my body and spent the next 7 weeks in an ICU burn unit at a county hospital in Brooklyn of all places.

    That was not something I chose to challenge myself with. As a result I really had no time to think about what my limits were. I was already at my limit and way beyond the moment it happened.

    The 7 weeks were a steady stream of 'end' moments, usually about 2-3 a day. But actually it didn't take long before I realized that the only true end was if I died. Otherwise I would pass through that thrice daily hell and come out the other side intact, which I did.

    I run marathons but in truth where I push myself the most is in figuring out what limits I have for loving other people and how I can push through that 'end'. No matter if you are jumping out of a plane or running a marathon or gardening, you can always push your love to a new level.

  57. vmichelle on January 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    >My natural inclination has always been to avoid moments where I find the end of myself. As I grow older, I've grown braver, taking baby steps pushing myself there, if only for a moment by learning or trying something new that feels a bit frightening. It makes me wonder… were you always inclined to push your own boundaries? Or did you have a turning point when you began to choose to do so?

  58. sarahanneloudinthomas on January 28, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    >I'm a big wuss when it comes to physical stuff. My big pushes come in the realm of "putting myself out there." Being open, being honest, being real, witnessing about Christ in my life. Telling people not only that they matter to me, but HOW MUCH. Letting people see how weak I am. Writing from my heart even when I'm afraid to let the world see what's in there.

    "That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

  59. Janet Oberholtzer on January 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM


    Impressed, totally impressed. Makes me want to go hike a mountain!

    After almost dying, almost losing my leg and receiving a "Humpty Dumpty" pelvis in an accident, I not only walk again (docs weren't sure that would ever happen) I run again … training for a half-marathon now!

    "Doing what I could, with what I had, where I was" (TR) every day helped me get to where I am today … so when something else in life is tough, I remind myself of the same.

  60. Tiffany on January 28, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    >How did you know that a post like this is exactly what I needed this week? I'm going to save this because it is a wonderful reminder for those "dig deep" times. Thank you, Rachelle!

  61. Anonymous on January 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    >What happens when you come to the end of yourself?

    I holler, of course, as loudly and bravely as possible. "I want my Mom-meeeee!" OR, my favorite, "Please, oh, please, don't hurt me."

  62. Esther on January 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    >I am so grateful for the More that is always there when I am at the end of myself. Truly living is living in the More.
    With regard to writing, I am pushing myself to write about that which I'd rather run away from…but it's where I've discovered the More.

  63. Marla Taviano on January 28, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    >You are stinking amazing.

  64. Heather Sunseri on January 28, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    >What a beautiful post, Rachelle! Although I have zero desire to jump out of a plane, I share your sense of adventure and have experienced almost every other thing you listed. Funny thing is I was scared while reading all the crazy things you've tried, yet I mentally checked off each one in my own life.

    I think daring ourselves to try new things way outside our comfort zone shows us just how little we are in this great big life on earth. I've been planning a trip to Haiti for a couple of years now. And with the earthquake, cholera, political unrest, I'm beginning to feel uneasy at times as the date nears, yet thrilled to be a small part in God's greater plan. When I think about my blessings and I study a country that has suffered so greatly, I, too, know "I can do this." I have to.

  65. Susan Anderson on January 28, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    >Oh My Gosh! I love this. Love the title! The way of the cross is going beyond myself. Having a special needs child has called me to a life of belief, an exercise in faith. I have no choice, I do it out of love. Swimming competitively prepared me for this. As a Roman Catholic, some would ask,"How can you believe that Jesus really exists in the bread and the wine?" I embrace it because I know that's what we are called to, believing beyond what we see, feel, or finitely comprehend. A life of sacrificial love, less of us, more of Christ.

  66. Lisa Jordan on January 28, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    >As if I didn't admire you enough…girl, you've lived more in your short life than more people do in their lifetimes combined.

    God's been using challenging times in my life of late to stretch me and help me relying on Him to meet my needs.

    I haven't done anything as daring as you, but that's not to say I won't…

  67. Becky Taylor on January 28, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    >Wonderful post! I have a pretty long stretching point and it really takes quiet a lot for me to get to the end. But when I do, this happens:

    1. I fall down.
    2. I cry, a lot.
    3. I cry some more.
    4. I pray.
    5. I realize not much can be done about anything while in the prone position.
    6. I get back up.

  68. Sue Harrison on January 28, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    >I am so inspired by this post, Rachelle. Thank you for it and for telling us what you do in your life to grow stronger.

    I'm not a well coordinated person so earning my scuba certification was a huge "stretching" experience for me. (Rock climbing, parachuting – NO!) Also, I'm like Katie, I come to the end of myself in the middle of each novel!

    However, the most difficult and terrifying experiences in my life have been the loss of a baby daughter to meningitis and the near-loss of my husband when he fell off our roof and broke 11 ribs and his back. God is the only answer – in times of miraculous healing and in times when that healing doesn't happen. One minute at a time, one second at a time – with God.

  69. RobynBradley on January 28, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    >Beth (first commenter) opened with a good quote and that reminded me of this one, which is apt and which I reflect upon often during those draining Icantdothisanymore times: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." — Anais Nin.

    PS: I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane as well around 20 years ago…my life has gotten considerably boring since then! 🙂

  70. GalaktioNova on January 28, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    >This is such a wonderful article, thank you!

    When I come to the end of myself, I just step over and keep walking. I believe there's no other way: I too thrive on challenges even though mine are microscopic compared to yours. (Yes, I learned to ride a bike at the ripe age of 35 by dragging it out of the house for a month and stubbornly attacking it, to passersby's quiet amusement, falling off its back every bloody time — for a month! — until one day I climbed it "just that one last time" and off I pedaled! :-)))

    Actually, the only reason I write is because it's a challenge every time I do it. I'd love to jump out of an airplane, but as long as I have to face that office chair every day, life is challenging enough! 🙂

    Thank you very much!

  71. Timothy Fish on January 28, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    >My limits find me without me seeking them out. I don’t go looking for things to push my limits. I do the stuff that needs doing. I would just as soon not run into a limit while I doing it because it makes it that much harder to get it done.

  72. Joy Nicholas on January 28, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    >I don't think I purposely push myself beyond my limits because I don't need to. Life pushes me past my limits all the time. I moved all over the world during my childhood as the daughters of missionaries. When I got married I just wanted to stay in one place, and my husband decided to become a Navy pilot. We had our first child when I was twenty, which wasn't exactly planned that way, but now I can't imagine anything better. (I have a built in au pair for one thing!!! :-)) As a Navy wife, a mother, and a writer, I find myself crying out, over and over, "Dear God, I think I'm two steps past my breaking point now!!!!" And that's where I begin to understand the words, "But He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

  73. Sharon A. Lavy on January 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    >Sorry, I sort of went off on a tangent in my post.

  74. Sharon A. Lavy on January 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    >Sigh. I admit it, I am a wimp. The most courageous thing I do is fly with my husband. He knows many pilots wives who do not fly with them, so to him it is a gift.

    I plead my age for the more daring things. But I do try to stretch myself in my writing.

    I admire you Rachelle. One of my sons jumped out of an airplane. But only because his dad was willing to pay for it. The son wanted to do it and said it was awesome but his has always been a tightwad.

    That son and his family were in Haiti last year just as the earthquake hit.

    God uses many ways to stretch us.

  75. Brian Miller on January 28, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    >nice. i try to do the same…and i need to do more honestly…as i do think it prepares you…and at the end of yourself hopefully you find faith in something…

  76. Wendy Paine Miller on January 28, 2011 at 6:57 AM

    >This is one of my favorite posts of yours. I’m not sure if it’s because I have the same risk-taking spirit or because we share the same reasoning behind why we take risks. Either way, I’ve had fun remembering some of the crazy things I’ve done.

    I went on an eight day outdoor hike which included bushwhacking, a 24 hour solo, rock climbing, a ropes course and a ten mile run to finish it off. I worked on a ropes course as a volunteer for a month. I’ve parasailed. On our honeymoon, my husband surprised me to a hot air balloon ride (love this feeling). I’ve whitewater rafted too and I loved it. Five years ago my husband and I biked through Austria. We spanned about thirty miles a day. I also have memories of chasing after bears at a park in Tennessee (with a handful of other smart folk like us) and I’m trying to forget that either my husband or I had an infant in our hands at the time.

    I’m so game for more adventures to come.

    What happens when I come to the end of myself? I find the More (those godly reserves) and I push on.

    ~ Wendy

  77. Katie Ganshert on January 28, 2011 at 6:09 AM

    >Wow, Rachelle, this one gave me goosebumps. Awesome post!!

    I come to the end of myself at least once during every story. A point where I know I can't write it or make it work. It's the point where I have to let go of me and grab onto Him. Keeps me VERY humble.

  78. Toby Speed on January 28, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    >Good for you, Rachelle.

    I go through periods of testing my courage and others where I hold back. I learned how to fly to write my last novel. Not only fly right side up, but I learned to do aerobatics. After a year in which I got my private pilot's certificate, I spent ten months doing rolls, loops, and other maneuvers. Before all that, my biggest fear in all my life was of flying.

    I'm not flying currently, but during the five years I was more actively involved, I lost some friends and teachers to flight accidents. There were many lessons and times of pause, but out of it I learned something about strength, fear, and our so-called limits.

    Thanks for a great post.

  79. Bonnie R. Paulson on January 28, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    >You're sorta intimidating to me now. lol.

    When I was in the third grade I ran for an ASB office. Can't remember which one. I prepared a speech and stood in front of all the third grade classes. I couldn't do it. I could NOT do it. I ran from the stage and they had to cross my name from the ballot.

    Since eight years old, I promised myself I'd never turn down a chance to speak to a crowd and have actually sought it out. The bigger the crowd the more I crave it.

    I have to show that eight year old there's nothing to be afraid of. Dirtbiking is much the same way.

    Great post. Have a terrific weekend!

  80. Sarah McMillen on January 28, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    >This is quite timely…
    First, I challenge myself in small ways. I want to live in Japan some day, so whenever I go out to eat with my Asian friends, I try something new. I went out for sushi with some friends this week. Two years ago, I wouldn't have even eaten the salmon and tuna. I tried the octopus, and felt victorious ^_^
    Second, I challenged myself to write 50,000 words (for my novel, specifically) by June. Since I'm a full time student and a part time worker who has never written that much on one project, it seems daunting. But I'm determined.

  81. Rosemary Gemmell on January 28, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    >Wow – much respect to you, Rachelle, for pushing so many boundaries! Mine were stretched some years ago through years of study as a mature student while working, writing and bringing up my family. The near death of my youngest brother (and its cause and effect) years ago pushed my own resources to the limit, but that's when I drew on my inner strength. And faith and trust in that power beyond ourselves.

    But your post made me realise I don't push myself nearly enough these days, apart from trying different types of writing. Kind of agree with Phil about 'comfort = stagnation'.

    I like this quote from Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover".

  82. Berryman on January 28, 2011 at 4:23 AM

    >Goodness! I'd rather take the train that used to be on that track. I remember it from my childhood. I can barely walk up my staircase, and how many steps is the incline?? I'll think of your feat and cheer you as I drive by on the highway. 🙂

    Right now, the end of myself is a distraction-free moment. I am a magnet for distraction. Honestly, I am the one to blame. I gather them to myself. Truly, I wish I could come to the end of myself.

  83. ARJules on January 28, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    >This sentence of the comment isn't going to be eloquent at all… just wanted to say: YOU ARE FREAKIN' AWESOME!

    Okay, now that I have that out of the way.

    It is interesting that you bring this up now. I've been struggling with this lately. To be honest, I haven't been looking at things the way you do, and I think that I should. After all, I got my doctorate in spite of an incredibly abusive adviser. At the same time, I earned my pilot's license. (If you have ever had the inclination, do it! It's the best!) I've been taking care of myself for how many years now? I have shown strength. I can get through tough times in the future too.

    Right? 🙂
    As Booker T Washington says, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

  84. Jeffrey Beesler on January 28, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    >When I come to the end of myself I go sit down and write until I've strengthened myself with a release of pent-up energy. Writing can often heal many of my wounds to where they're not so bad.

  85. Dorci on January 28, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    >There's no need for me to push myself to find my limits, life does that for me.

    It's never very long before I find myself on yet another upside down rollercoaster and I'm hanging on for dear life.

    I don't feel very strong while I'm in the middle of it, but those faith muscles are building every time I trust God.

    I don't like getting to the end of myself. The journey is scary and lonely. But I know that the end of myself is the only place I'll really see God.

  86. Phil on January 28, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    >If you're not pushing your boundaries you're not living. Comfort = stagnation, so kudos to you Rachelle for fighting to push the limits!

    @Beth – love the quote. It's so true. Have you heard this one by Emerson: 'We sacrifice the thrones of angels for a short and spurious pleasure'? That's the one I have hanging on my wall 😉

    @Kimberly – best of luck with the third marathon! That's an insane amount of miles to keep running over and over again.

    As for me, I'm pushing my boundaries by challenging myself to write a novel a month this year. Just finished January's novel tonight! 2,740 words a day is all it takes, and I'm posting my journey here on my blog: First Million Words. It's been a blast thus far!

  87. T. Anne on January 28, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    >I know all about the undertow. I enjoy both surfing and skiing although I'm not very good at either. I seem to come to the end of me on a pretty regular basis and for far lesser things than jumping out of a plane (pretty impressive). The Lord fills this vessel best when it's empty and I feel privileged when he fills me.

  88. Kristin on January 28, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    >Wow. The incline is intense. I did that once and then continued up to Pike's after working a night shift. It was crazy, but it pushed me. Sometimes you can't even take it a day at a time. Sometimes it has to be in smaller increments…like an hour at a time.

    When life gets tough, I remind myself that the trial (whatever it is) will come to an end, and try and find what joy I can out of the experience.

  89. Kimberly on January 28, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    >I've only just learned to start living life this way, and you are absolutely right…there is more.

    As a non-athlete, I never dreamed I'd run a marathon, and here I am training for my third! I have never felt "at the end of myself" more than mile 24!

    I never imagined I'd be able to live anywhere outside of my comfort zone, and yet, we are on our second tour as expats in Europe. It's all about baby steps, believing God will fill the gaps, and knowing that there is a reserve that you won't be able to tap into until the need arises.

    Thanks for reminding me to revisit my accomplishments and look at new ways to challenge myself.

  90. Aimee L Salter on January 28, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    >Simple answer: Prayer.

    When I reach my limits, I'm a total whiner. Over the years I've learned that whining to others = annoying them, self-indulgence and no gracious gain.

    Whining to God = reassurance, strength and new eyes for the truth of my situation.

  91. Beth K. Vogt on January 28, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    >Your post made me think of a quote I have hanging up over my desk: "Anything I've ever done that was ultimately worthwhile … initially scared me to death." ~Betty Bender,author

    Sometimes you don't get the choice to push yourself pass your limits–life happens, and there you are, past your limits. Uncle Sam moved my family to Turkey when I had a 3-month-old–and, oh yeah, a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. Didn't have a choice in that, except in my attitude. (Which wasn't always the best.) But I did go with my AF husband–and I stayed.
    When an unexpected pregnancy surprised me when I was a mom of teens, I remember thinking, "I can't do this again."
    As if I had a choice.
    I learned to embrace that baby–and love life as an older mom.
    I haven't done the Incline–maybe one day. I'll keep you posted. You have my deepest admiration for that, Rachelle!