I’m learning to appreciate the valleys.
As Christians, we always hear about the mountain tops and the valleys. Most people are striving to be on the mountain because it’s easier. Once you climb, fight those battles and succeed, all you want to do is bask in the victory. To let the past troubles sink in, to focus on what’s ahead. Yeah, the mountain top is where it’s at.
The mountain top experience is one of ease. No obstructions, a beautiful view. There’s no resistance. You simply sit. Atop the mountain there’s rest. Because, after all, it’s been a long hard climb. You look forward to the break and enjoy every peaceful second.
But the valleys are not so easy. There’s constantly a battle. The terrain is difficult because you’re never sure what’s around the next corner. Often you’ll find rivers and places of awkward terrain that make the journey even more difficult. You’re always on guard, looking for the danger.
There’s the climb to the top.
So you’ve been in the valley, and you’ve made it to the other side, just to find out you have to climb this mountain. You climb, you struggle with grasping a firm hold, understanding this whole new terrain. Navigating the quickest, easiest route to the top. You know your goal is to make it, but the climb is increasingly more difficult with little place of rest. Painstakingly, you creep and inch across the rough surface but you eventually get there. After being in the valley, and then climbing the mountain, the top seems like heaven.
But the top seems different this time.
After the valley, then the climb, you get to the top to look around. Taking in the view, catching your breath, you realize the oxygen is not quite as rich. It takes work to get enough breaths in to satisfy your lungs. You stop, look around, only to find you’re the only one there. Oh, but wait, there’s someone. Except they’re too busy enjoying the view and the sun to notice you’re even there. You notice something else: the lack of vegetation. No plants to shade the sun or block the wind. No rivers or water source. Just the peak and the limited oxygen.
Slightly deflated, you begin the journey back down. And you think to yourself, “this isn’t so bad.” Of course, after that journey up anything seems easier. You aren’t looking forward to the valley, but you know it’s a part of life. Highs and lows.
The valley view is different looking down.
Making your descent, you glance down to gauge the distance and time to reach the bottom. And for the first time, you notice how amazingly beautiful the valley is. The lush leaves, the running rivers. Birds chirping. As you make your way closer, you also notice something. Community. The people in the valley are the ones rallied together, helping one another out. Sure, they’re each working in their own way, striving for some goal, but they’re working together. Talking with one another. You make it to the bottom and realize this feels more like home.
The valley hasn’t always seemed a place of rest. Because it seldom is. But in the valley, growth happens. Life happens.
This is what I’ve come to realize.
While the valley might seem tough while you’re in it, it’s also where you’re really closest to God. You depend on Him more when you’re in a place of need than in a place of rest and content. I’ve always heard it’s easy to pray when you have a need, but when you have everything you don’t need Him. And I realize now I always need Him.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on the high mountain top or deep in the trenches of the valley, I need Him every second. Every minute of every day I depend on God. And I think through so much time spent in the valley is where I learned this.
Also, in the valley, we help each other more. Maybe it’s because other people’s problems help us focus on our own less. Or perhaps it’s the sense of brotherhood among those who realize we’re in a spiritual battle. Either way, we understand standing together is better than fighting alone, and we draw strength from one another.
I’m not sure about you, but I know one thing about myself. I need to grow spiritually. It’s why I started this blog. It’s why I go to church those times I’m really not feeling like it. Why I read my bible when I’d rather watch my show (real talk here) or why I encourage my kids to pray.
My deepest, most heartfelt prayers came from a place of desperation and need. I am most connected with God when I need Him most. I wish I were different, but that’s how it seems to work.
I don’t mind the mountain tops. But for now, I think I’ll stick with a valley.