We all want to live life from the top of the mountain. People want to see the victory stories. They want the finish line.
My life, just like all of our lives, has been a lot of trudging the valleys and climbing the mountains. But every now and then we are given breaks where we get to sit at the top of a ledge and see how far we’ve come; and friends, those moments are what we live for.
As I reflect back on my life, I am quite literally blown away by all God has done in and through me.
In fact, if I’m being totally honest with you, it freaks me the hell out.
Having traveled a lot of valleys through the years, I started to get comfortable down there. It started making sense. The deep seeded belief that I wasn’t worth the mountain top moments and didn’t deserve anything but the depths of the valleys settled into my soul and I accepted it as a place I belonged. I settled in. I learned the air pressure down in the crevices of life-the crevices of the consequences from my own poor choices- and how to breathe down there.
I got pretty good at it.
As I trudged, knowing that much of why I was in the valley was my own doing, hope became my oxygen. Over time, my hope grew and faith became my light. I began to believe that maybe I did deserve more than the valleys. I started to think that maybe God was allowing the valleys for a very specific purpose but that He didn’t intend for me to stay there.
As I learned how to survive in the valley, I prayed to make it to the mountain. Light cracked through the darkness and while I often missed the progress I was making day by day, I began to see how far I’d come and how close I was to being where I wanted to be.
The last two years has been a giant climb. An often brutal, sometimes devastating, hopeless, uphill battle against so many enemies. But through it all, I knew God was in control and that He was carrying me. He was giving me new strength and new hope with every step. It wasn’t easy, but I have finally made it to a top ledge of this enormous mountain.
I don’t expect to live at this high height forever; but right now, God has granted me a top of the mountain view.
As I sit here taking it all in, awed and breathless by all I see and all God has done, expecting myself to feel nothing but happiness that I finally made it; I find myself at times pulled by the valley. I find myself struggling to breathe up at the top of this mountain. I don’t know how. The air is thin and I keep waiting to lose my breath and fall back down. I’m simultaneously the happiest I’ve ever been and the most scared I’ve ever been.
I’m not scared because I’m afraid this mountain I’m standing on isn’t real. I’m not scared even to fall off of it. The valleys don’t scare me.
I realize now that what I am most afraid of is that I don’t actually deserve to stand up here.
The same beliefs that were planted in my heart years ago of my worthlessness continue to sit in the grounding of my soul and as I try to simply enjoy the reward of it all, the struggles of the past seem to resurface.
The beauty of this view is so much that it hurts my eyes. I open my arms to let the sun beam down onto my chest and feel both freedom and fear consume me. I fight against gravity trying to pull me down as if that’s where I belong, knowing that despite the pull toward less, I am worthy of more.
I know because I didn’t get here myself. God carried me here.
Somehow, even when God says, “Yes,” my heart struggles to not fight back with a “No.” I ultimately don’t know what to do with this much blessing. This much grace. This much beauty.
It steals my breath.
It leaves me speechless.
And right behind the sigh of relief that I finally made it to this place is the crushing gasp that I’m not good enough for all of this to be happening to me.
It was my choices that lead me to the crushing places I landed. It was my brokenness that rapt me into the valleys I couldn’t escape and the darkness that gripped me for so long.
I have at times been reckless with my life; and still, God continues to be reckless with His grace for me.
The thing about surviving the valleys is that at some point, we have to learn how to breathe at the top of the mountains too. We have to hold just as tightly to the truth that we deserve freedom as we held to the lie that we didn’t. We have to take the steps that allow God to heal us and then take the next steps that allow us to walk out that gift.
I am learning how to stand up here. How to breathe at these heights. For however long it lasts, I want to soak in the view. I am learning that just because the valley became familiar, that doesn’t mean it’s where I belong.
Those ashes birthed me into the beauty of a new life; so even when my brain tells me this beauty is too great for a life of ash, I will remember that God’s light burns brightest through the darkest dust.
I will stand at the top of this mountain grateful He brought me here rather than doubting I deserve it; and I will force myself to sit in the uncomfortable openness of the fresh mountain air and trust this is where I belong.
We do deserve the mountains because we fought our way to the top. It’s time to enjoy the view.