From the Mountaintop to the Valley
We all struggle with coming back from a vacation - but life can't be lived on a mountaintop.
The days before leaving for a vacation are like climbing a mountain. Once you shut that office door and head for the airport or jump in the car for that horizon, you've reached the summit. You spin around like Julie Andrews in a flowering meadow and relish the next few days of freedom. Nothing can touch you.
Until you have to make your way back to reality. The vacation is over, and it's back to work. Coming down that mountain of bliss is never easy.
I had a wonderful honeymoon in East Asia, and then I was blessed to be able to accompany my husband to Europe for a business trip. I checked off a few bucket list items on that adventure! When I returned to the Middle East, however, I was quickly reminded of how much I'd been struggling living in the desert.
I'm a Pacific Northwest girl. I've traveled to 16 countries in 5 years and I've seen some truly beautiful and breathtaking sights. One of my favorite things to do is travel abroad. But Dorothy had it spot on - there's no place like home. The rolling hills of Ireland give you a whole new definition of the color green. But it doesn't compare to seeing my little brother play quarter back on a freshly cut school yard in eastern Washington. The woods of Malaysia are unreal and have some of the most beautiful flowers... but it doesn't beat the towering cedar and pine trees that drape over the hiking trails near Priest Lake. The mountains surrounding Muscat do take my breath away, especially at sunset, but it doesn't hold a candle to the mountains that embrace my home city on either side.
We all must come down the mountain at some point, because that's where we live. We exist and work and play in the valleys and once in a while peak our heads above the clouds to witness something truly wonderful. Perspective. As I stepped off that plane and found myself back in the Middle East, the wave of oven-hot air hitting me like a punch to the stomach, I was quickly reminded that I was no longer up in the clouds. Moses had to make his way back down the mountain after being handed the 10 Commandments, as did Jesus after the transfiguration. Reality awaits, and it's only at the bottom of the hill that we get to witness God work in the majestic ways we hope to see in our lifetime. The mountain is the breath, the cool drink of water, our place of rest before we have to get back to it.
I was fully prepared to go back to work when I got home - after having one day to myself to do 3 weeks of laundry - only to find out that my boss had to lay me off. I was fully prepared to start the extensive paperwork for my husband to immigrate to the United States with me, only to hit several walls within the first three steps that have already begun delaying the process. Yeah, we're definitely not on the mountain top anymore. Where the heck is Julie Andrews and why don't I hear her singing?
If we use our mountaintops wisely, they can prepare us for our valleys. My husband and I prayed together daily while we were on our honeymoon, and again in Europe. It set the stage. Now we pray together every night to be able to handle the frustrations we're facing in the valley. And there are plenty to face. As tempting as it is to stay on the peak forever, it is awfully beautiful, peaks aren't meant to be lived on. They're too small and there's no moving forward. The valleys, however, allow us to continue on life's journey - even if it is rather dark for awhile.
I'll struggle in the valley - of this I have no doubt. But I also know that in that struggle God will refine me and, when the timing is right, he'll provide another mountaintop for rest down the road.