One of my favorite things I get to do this time of year is go to a retreat in the mountains with my church. There is something so special about being with all of my brothers and sisters in fellowship. Together, we spend a whole weekend praising Jesus, worshiping, and singing our lungs out. I wish I could stay on that mountain forever. I wish I could live forever in that perfect world of long discussions, no responsibilities or obligations, sermons, and serenity. Trees linger on every path and the crisp air fills my lungs. It’s almost perfect. But then I have to leave. Everyone loads onto the buses and heads right back into reality.
As much as I wish I could stay on top of that mountain, I can’t. Because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it; the mountain would lose its value. In one of my favorite songs, “I like you,” the artist, Ben Rector, sings a phrase that always touches my heart. He says, “ Life is not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between.”
Life is not all winter retreats, it’s not about hitting the winning goal or getting straight A’s. Those are all mountain tops. Moments when everything seems to be going our way, like we are on top of the world, but all that good stuff can’t last forever. Climbing up the mountains you face and tumbling down them; that’s what this huge mess we call life is all about. If we stayed on the mountain tops we wouldn’t know how glorious and wondrous they are. It would just be normal. We have to go up mountains, and we have to go down mountains, and exist in the in between. The times when we aren’t our best, when we are beaten down by fear, when nothing seems to be going our way: that’s what life is about. Because if we don’t experience the walking, we cannot get to the mountains. And in order to comprehend the mountains, we have to know what it is like to be at the bottom of them.
Even though being on top of our mountains is temporary, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the in between. The in between is all of the little things that make life truly beautiful, like sunsets, coffee dates, holding hands, and laughing your head off. All of those little pieces are so much more important than I ever realized.
When I’m not in a season of high achievement and mountain tops, it’s really hard for me to be encouraged. It seems like the valley I’m in is too deep, or it just goes on forever. Luckily, it doesn’t. Just like the seasons change, so do our circumstances. There is a season for everything, for pain, and for joy, and for waiting, and for hope. So maybe you aren’t in a joyous season, maybe you aren’t on top of the a mountain, but that doesn’t mean the season you are in is any less important in purpose then in any other season. Maybe walking in between doesn’t have to be as bad as we think it does.
words by Samantha Burton and photo by Arianna Taralson