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Rock Climbing Trip Reveals How Friends 'Raise Our Game'

Sometimes true friends don't just affirm and comfort us; they also "raise our game." That's what happened to Richard Dahlstrom when he was rock climbing with his friend Kevin. Kevin, a more experienced climber, was climbing as the belayer, or the one who's supposed to protect Dahlstrom from plummeting to the ground. On this particular climb, Dahlstrom was exhausted and ready to quit the climb, so he politely asked Kevin to help him get back to the ground. But Kevin refused to grant his friend's request. Here's how Dahlstrom described the scene:

"Falling," I shout, and Kevin puts a brake on the rope; after a few feet I come to stop. I'm hanging, spinning around while new blood delivers recovery energy to my fingers and my spent arm. "I'm done, man. Lower!" This the part where the belayer is supposed to lower you to the ground and congratulate you on a good try.
Instead, Kevin says, "I'm not lowering ya, man. You can climb that."
"Funny," I say, acknowledging his attempt at humor. "Lower, please."
"Not funny," he says, laughing. "You. Can. Climb. That." He speaks in staccato, punctuating each word to make sure I hear him. I continue to spin, hanging from the rope, about forty-five feet in the air. "Try it again."
Who is this person, telling me what I can and can't do? Friends don't let friends dangle in midair, do they? What did I ever like about him? "No, really. I'm finished."
"No, really. You can climb this." He's not going to let me quit. I need new friends.
I reconnect with the rock, and he tightens the rope as I try again, and fall again. Once more I ask to be lowered. Once more he refuses. Once more I try, and this last time, for reasons still unknown to me, I succeed and finish the climb, exhilarated by the triumph ….
Kevin saw something in me I didn't and brought it out; he raised my game, so to speak. Good friends do that; so do good coaches. But more than friends or coaches, God does that. God raises our game and brings things out in us that we didn't know were there.

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