I was recently reminded of the gruesome and unbelievable story of a man, Aron Ralston, who had to cut off his arm to set himself free from the boulder that captured it. He was out alone in the wilderness for days as this nightmare unfolded. The story is an agonizing tale of both relentless fight and desperate diligence. If you haven’t read or heard of the story, go here.
As he was out rock climbing, a boulder fell onto his arm holding him captive for days until he did the unthinkable. He was starving and freezing and slowly dying… he knew the only way he would live, was to break free from that rock that bound him. By doing so, he would take his blunt knife and scrape away the decaying skin, only to slam his body against the rock to break the bones free.
In order to live, he needed to cut off a part of him.
It’s an extraordinary story.
I often wonder if there are pieces and parts of who I am that are stuck, keeping me from living the life God intended for me to live.
Aron’s experience is one that ignites a powerful question for us all…
Is there a part of our lives that is bound and stuck that we need to painstakingly cut off in order to truly live?
Oh, to be starving, freezing, and all alone for days out in the wilderness with not a soul in sight… watching your ‘stuck part’ rot in decay, while it destroys the rest of your body.
I doubt many of us are enduring such a vicious event. I simply can’t imagine…
But perhaps this resonates deeply in us all?
Are we slowly dying due to parts that are decaying in our own lives? Are we desperately longing to be free of what prevents us from experiencing true joy ? Perhaps we are using a blunt knife that never succeeds in cutting us free, because we are just too afraid to break it off?
We watch those parts rot, as it sucks the very life out of us. We are terrified and tired and trying to save ourselves, but the very thought of breaking it off is unthinkable. Have we realized that its power is what’s slowly decaying parts of our life that need new life?
Perhaps we can learn from Aron’s fight for freedom…
“When his blunt knife pierced his skin but came to rest against solid bone, Ralston thought there was no chance he could perform the gruesome amputation that would save his life. He brushed some grit from his trapped thumb and a sliver of flesh peeled off “like the skin of boiled milk”, he remembers. “I’m like, what the . . . ? I take my knife and I’m poking a bit more and the knife just slips into the meat of my thumb like it’s going into room-temperature butter. My hand has almost jellified. The knife tip goes in and, ‘pssstt’, the gases from decomposition escape and there’s this putrid smell. I go into this rage. I’m in this hyper-emotional state after all this regimented discipline to keep it together and in this moment, when I’m trying to rip my arm out from the rock, I feel it bend and it stops me – ‘That’s it! I can use the boulder to break my bones!’”
Can you imagine the noxious vapors that expelled from his rotting thumb? Can you imagine the rancid waste that may be released if you attempted to puncture that fatal piece of your life?
Aron didn’t figure out how to be set free, until he touched the decaying part and realized its demise. This is what inspired him with the answer that would eventually save his life. It would be gruesome and painful and yet, he was euphoric in the revelation. Why?
I can only guess that when a person gets to that place of true desperation, the inevitable answer and relentless force is awakened to BREAK free.
I can picture it, can you?
Slamming his arm violently against the rock and hearing the loud CRACK of his bone echo through the canyon. Slamming once again, to break the second bone that was locking him in… CRACK!
After that intense liberation, he had more work to do. Climb down and walk miles to find someone, anyone to help him…He was without his limb, probably bleeding, starving, cold, utterly exhausted and alone. He couldn’t survive unless he found someone- anyone that would nurse him back to health. He had come so far, through the perils of self-preservation, discipline and courage to dispose of his dead arm, with the hope of restoring his withering life.
Maybe we should all take a close look at our own lives. There may be a process much like his we need to bravely endure, in order to save our lives. Perhaps we need to first identify it, brush off the surface of dirt to expose the eroded flesh beneath, then start to carve away the layers, and eventually break free. After doing so, we can set our path on finding the help we need to restore, repair, and renew the vital life we were meant to live.
My favorite pivotal part of this story is when he deliriously envisions his future playing with his son with his amputated arm.
This dream of a life worth living… full of purpose and a plan is what gave him the strength and conviction to be set free.
Perhaps you too, have a dream. One of hope and fulfillment and purpose. A plan that will unleash the power within to set yourself free. A different you will emerge, stronger with a fierce new perspective and passion for the life you were meant to live.
The link to where I found his information is here: