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Coming Up: The Rough Side of the Mountain by Angelique Strothers

I think oftentimes, as believers, we view our spiritual journey in black and white: “Either I’m on the mountaintop or I’m in a valley.” But, the fact is that there is so much more to the story. Our lives are not black and white with shades of gray somewhere between; but much like the picture above, God has created us to live out a life full of color and beauty. We get so caught up focusing on the mountaintop and the valley experiences that we define our life’s seasons by those two geological positions and those alone. I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of the same! But thank God He doesn’t leave me in the ignorance of my finite understanding.

The geological definition of a valley is an elongated depression in the earth’s surface (Britannica Online Encyclopedia); but I like the way that Wikipedia phrases it: ” In geology, a valley or dale is a depression that is longer than it is wide.” Now, ain’t THAT the truth! Isn’t that what it feels like when we’re in those “valleys”? It feels so restrictive (“I can’t,” “Not me,” “Why me”) and like it’ll NEVER end! And somehow, we never see the mountains so clearly as when we’re in a valley stuck between the “mountain” we were on and the “mountain” we want to be on. We immediately view the valleys (low places) as bad and the mountains (high places) as good. But, the truth is…… well, that’s just NOT TRUE! 🙂 You see, valleys CAN BE well-vegetated, fertile areas with constant water supply and beauty all around. And mountaintops CAN BE cold, lonely places with room for only one at the top. But because we’re so conditioned to be unsatisfied with where we are in favor of what “could be” or even “will be” at a later time, we miss out on the beauty of the valley, the solitude of the mountaintop and the purpose of both.

So, that’s one issue I have with this black & white view of life and spiritual journey. But, you see, it also occurs to me that there has to be something between the mountain and the valley or else there would be neither mountains nor valleys. We get so caught up in the “despair” of our current reality (valley), the “majesty” of our preferred reality (mountaintop) and the disparity between the two that we miss out on the journey from one to the other. That is to say, there has to be a way to get from the valley to the mountaintop; we don’t just wake up one day and say, “Oh, hey look, I’m magically on top of my mountain! Goodbye valley!” No, there is PROCESS that happens somewhere between the two and that process is called MOUNTAINSIDE. And here’s where the black & white theory gets completely blown to smithereens! Because, we want our experiences to always look like the picture above: a mountaintop view of another mountaintop with nothing but color and beauty all around; but oftentimes leaving those valleys behind looks more like... [Continue reading]

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