Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Who doesn’t love a mountain top experience? I know I do, but we don’t continually live on the mountain top. There are times that we are on the pinnacle of triumph, then other times we are thrust into the deepest of valleys.
When I am in an emotional valley, I find it helpful to get outside and do something physically challenging. Since I love to be out in nature, hiking is often my choice.
I like to fancy myself as an avid hiker, trekking tirelessly through the wilderness. I have a friend named Kat, who inspires me with her adventurous hikes. She is a rock star who has conquered climbs like Half Dome in Yosemite and Mt. Whitney. One of the most impressive trips she has made, in my opinion, was when she hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day. Now that is impressive.
So, summer before last, when I began a hike with my husband Larry in the rolling hills of California, I felt like Conquering Kat. As I climbed an especially steep hill, I felt proud that I was dominating that obstacle.
Our hike was going well until we reached a Y on the trail. We had the choice of continuing the planned route or taking a detour off the beaten path. Larry suggested that we take the alternate route, so feeling energized, I agreed. After all, Kat was my inspiration and now I would be called Conquering Kim! I tackled the trail with enthusiasm and even ran up a hill to prove that it was not going to be a problem.
But there was a problem. As we rounded a bend in the trail, I realized that it didn’t go the direction I had first anticipated. The trail headed deep into a valley. It was extreme, and it was steep. As my feet slid down the path, I was seriously concerned. I knew that once in that canyon, I would have to climb the daunting mountain to get out. I wasn’t too excited about that prospect. I tried to remember that I was Conquering Kim…..
That is how life is; we form expectations of acceptable hills & valleys. But what happens when our circumstances take us into a valley that is deeper than we ever expected? A precipice that we don’t feel equipped to handle, but have no choice except to forge forward, sliding to a place where we don’t want to be.
We’ve all been there; whether it is a loss of a loved one, betrayal of someone close, a prodigal son or daughter, or even the loss of a dream. Whatever it is, it pushes us further into the unforeseen valley.
Larry and I finally reached the bottom of the canyon. He sensed my apprehension as I gazed up at the steep, threatening path ahead of us. Larry assured me that I could do it and encouraged me to begin climbing.
At first, I would only stop when I found a shady spot. One step after another, we climbed. Eventually, I could only take a few steps and would have to lean over to catch my breath. I was no longer Conquering Kim; I was Collapsing Kim, reduced to a trembling mass of weakness. I tried different techniques as I clambered out of the valley. I would walk, crawl, and walk backward to give my legs a break. Larry was as supportive as he could be, having me hold on to his backpack as he tried to drag me up the hill. At one point, he insisted on giving me a piggyback ride, telling me he could climb all day long. Well, let’s just say that ended up with us both laying on the ground laughing deliriously. As the vultures circled above us, I no longer cared if I was able to rest in the shade. I just sat down in the middle of the trail, in the sun, covered with thorns. One time Larry had to rescue me from laying down in some coyote poop in my exhausted state. For that, I am grateful. I know, it’s not pretty, but it’s true.
Finally, we reached the top of the mountain and rejoiced when we saw the downward slope back to the truck. I couldn’t believe I had made it, but knew I didn’t get there on my own. Larry practically drug me up that mountain, continually reminding me to press on and push out thoughts of failure and regret.
I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
So, if you find yourself headed into an unexpected valley, remember, you will make it out. Press on, don’t give up. You are not alone; you have a God who cares deeply and intimately about every detail of your life. I encourage you to take moments throughout your day and regroup, asking Him to give you the strength to go a little further. One step, one moment at a time. Pretty soon, you will come to the summit, and the view is amazing.