Sometimes I see life as a series of mountains and valleys. I have just come back from another hike. I have done several overnight, back country, backpacking trips but this one was another special one. It was extra hard with absolutely stunning views of the mountains. We were hiking on the top of the ridgeline of a famous mountain pass in a National Park. Mountain hiking doesn’t get any better than that!
My best friend was unable to make the trip so I was tenting it solo. This meant I had more alone time than I usually have. I spent each evening and early morning alone. At times I would either hang back or hike ahead from two other friends who joined while listening to worship music so I could be even more alone with my thoughts, while marveling at God’s creation.
I was awe struck at the gift God has provided us. The majesty in each rock face, crevice, valley and meadow was breath taking. Then I thought about how Chad would be proud of how hard I am trying to find ways to soothe my aching soul.
Tirelessly working to summit a treacherous trail while having moments of fear leads to a special kind of “high” when you get to the top of the mountain. I was overcome with emotion. Pure joy ripped through me as I breathed in the cold, crisp air. This is worth the suffering we had endured in the valley the night before.
A storm blew through our camp, pouring rain with high winds all night long. We froze. At the time I was convinced that I would never do this particular hike again. The morning wasn’t any better as the rain kept pouring down and a cold wind ripped through our camp. We waited out the storm knowing that if it is raining in camp, it would be snowing on top. We eventually began our assent to the top of the mountain. Reaching that summit was the moment everything fell into perspective. It was worth it and I was so thankful to be there!
I wonder how much of life is like that? We can’t see the big picture but God has the whole view. We can’t see the beauty of the other side while on our vertical rock. During the climb I have to be head down the entire time so I don’t miss my next step. I know my life at times feels like I am being pummeled by a storm but maybe I just haven’t reached the point of it clearing enough to really climb all the way out?
I have been trying. Sometimes I even think maybe I can see the summit, but I lose my footing and slide back down my mountain, into my valley. My heart is camped out in grief a lot of the time. Sometimes that is okay and I need the solitude that grief brings to cry, remember and reflect. Other times I need to be better at climbing out to see how far I can get this time.
This trip, I literally climbed out of the valley, on to the top of the mountain. In this moment, I felt joy and could envision a happy future for my kids and I. That joy continued throughout the hike. Then driving home, a song Chad once told me was his love story to me began playing and I instantly fell back down into my valley. The waves of grief always continue to come and this one was huge. I sobbed. As the flood gates opened, I felt nauseous again with the overwhelming feeling of missing Chad being too much for me to continue doing. I raged down in my valley allowing other songs that trigger me to play then too. How can this desperate, broken hearted girl be the same girl squealing with joy just 24 hours earlier? Yet that is how grief works. The joy in one moment never erases the gut-wrenching pain that is there the next.
I have learned though that the crashing sorrow does not erase the moments of joy either. Maybe I can be knocked back into the storm that rages but I can also choose to keep climbing back out. Climbing out is worth it. Sometimes it takes great, hard work but the reward is always worth it. I am reminded God gave those mountain views and is blessing me with friends who keep walking this road beside me. He is teaching me how to raise up my kids so they too choose to keep climbing out of
The storm has now passed. I can see the mountain ahead of me. Tonight I am tired but tomorrow, I will start climbing back up.