Friday, November 19, 2010

For the Mountain Climbers

Occasionally in life, we find ourselves at the base of a mountain.  Perhaps you've been walking towards it for a couple of weeks, months, or maybe even years.  The mountains of our lives come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are little.  These usually only take a couple of days to summit.  Obviously everyone possesses his or her own; however, these small hills may look something like failing a test, spilling coffee, breaking your mom's favorite china cup, etc.

We also have our medium-sized peaks -- big decisions, speaking an uncomfortable but necessary truth into someone's life, etc.

But unfortunately, at some point in our lives, almost all of us (I would venture to say) will have a gargantuan mountain to climb -- divorce, addiction, death, affairs, eating disorders, losing a job, bankruptcy, self-hate, etc.  These things are serious issues, and I will be the first to admit, powering through things like this will usually take a bit more than a single day's efforts.  It may take a month or a year or multiple years, depending upon the damage that has been done to one's heart.

Often times, we look at the mountains before us and almost collapse, because of our inability to even take the first step.  We are so overwhelmed by the mountain's height and width and the conditions we will have to endure on the way up that we deem the attempt useless.

So we keep sitting, standing, running, sometimes even basking in our pain, because we think we'd never even make it up.  And what's worse, it might even be more painful along the way.  Some people assume they wouldn't even make it past the first five steps.  Let's take Lilly, for example.  (Please note: Lilly is not based upon the lives of any individual I know but is undoubtedly a reflection of what countless women are up against in this thing called life.)

Lilly lived a seemingly ordinary life.  She was married, happy, somewhat content with life until her husband had an affair.  Understandably so, Lilly found herself devastated, wondering who she was, feeling as though she was worthless, hopeless.  She loathed him.  She loathed herself.  "What was it?  What could I have possibly done to drive him away?  What is wrong with me?"  These questions loomed over her head and ultimately found rest on her shoulders, where they sat like anvils, weighing down her entire body.

She became discontent, despondent, and depressed.  Pretty soon, her performance at work dropped dramatically, and she was let go.  She found herself spending her days sitting on the couch in her home, alone.  She wanted so badly for the pain to go away.  So she fixed it the only way she knew how -- alcohol.  Months went by, and Lilly found herself feeling as though she couldn't live without it.  As soon as she woke up for the day, she'd pour herself a glass of vodka and refill it all day long.

Of course, there were days she had to venture out of the house.  And when she did, she would make herself look perfect -- flawless -- in attempt to mask the pain that was literally killing her.  So when people asked her how she was doing she would respond with a smile, "Fine, you know?  You would think I might be a bit hard of heart, but I'm great!  Just great."  But inside, her heart was shattered into a million pieces.  Her soul was so battered and bruised that she had become numb to the pain.

Lilly stands at the bottom of this mountain.  She has a choice, and the choice is hers alone.  To climb or not to climb?  I suppose there are pros and cons to each.  If she climbs, it may be a long time before she makes it to the top.  On the way up, she will undoubtedly cry -- sob, more likely.  It will hurt, and it will be very hard.  Because the catch is, if she starts the summit, her baggage will be stripped of her.  That's just the truth.  She will be physically unable to climb with ten tons of weight resting upon her shoulders.  She will have to throw it off.

Now, one might think the decision to throw away the baggage, the pain would be simple.  But it's not that easy.  You see, when we experience pain, we often forget a great deal about ourselves, because we're so caught up in the emotions we're feeling -- or lack thereof.  Lilly's husband cheated on her, and she became consumed by the thoughts of everything she was not -- forgetting everything she was.  She had claimed herself to be unattractive, ungodly, unintelligent.  She fell captive to the lies of this world, and they deceived her into believing herself to be someone she was not.  

The other specific obstacle keeping Lilly from making the climb was something inherent to all of us -- the fear of falling.  I've heard we are born with two fears and two fears alone: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling.  Now, I would venture to say the fear of falling we're born with refers predominantly to falling off a cliff or out of your mother's arms.  But in reality, the fear of falling may be representative of far more than just that.  Lilly was afraid to climb, because she was afraid to fall.  

"What if I make the effort, make it almost all the way to the top, only to fall back to the bottom again?"  

I wish I could make each and every one of you the promise that if you attempt the summit, you would make it up in seconds, without a scratch.  But that isn't reality.  You may climb for weeks and months, and just as you reach the top, you'll want to give up and go back down.  You may want to go back down an hour after you start climbing.  

But I want you to envision yourself standing at the top of your mountain.  From that point, you can see for miles and miles.  You look behind you and see your past, and for some reason, from that height, everything that has happened to you seems to make a little bit more sense.  At first you may want to cringe at some of the things you had to walk through and some of the things you put yourself through, but then suddenly you turn around.  

You eyes fill with tears, because on the other side of the mountain lie the most beautiful sights you've ever seen.  You can't help but think, "Yes, climbing up here was the most difficult thing I've ever done, but it was so worth it."  

Life is never promised to be easy.  We're actually told it will be very difficult, but we are promised that everything has a purpose and everything works for our good.  I want to challenge you to make the first step and start to climb the Everest of your life.  But I want you to hear this -- do not attempt to make this climb on your own.  I've done very minimal climbing in my life, but I have ALWAYS gone with other people.  It makes all the difference.  

Know that you are not alone.  Do not believe the lies that something is wrong with you, because you are going to have to climb an Everest-sized mountain.  There is nothing wrong with you.  We are all human; we all have struggles.  We all have mountains to climb.  Know it will be difficult, but know we serve a God whose power is greater than anything on this earth.  He loves you and will FIGHT for you, however many times it takes, because YOU are His precious daughter.  You are unlike any other being ever created.  Your beauty is astounding, and you mean the WORLD to Him.  You cannot do anything to escape His presence.  He is ENTHRALLED by your beauty.  Nothing will ever separate you from his love -- NOTHING.  And He will be with you wherever you go, guarding and protecting you.  We are MORE than conquerers in Christ Jesus -- know this, believe it, and live life TRUSTING in this truth.  It was for FREEDOM he set us free.  

More to come.  All my love! 

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." -Psalm 23

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