Is it possible to be on a hill and going through a valley at the same time?
We often talk about the hills and valleys of life as equal and opposite reactions, but what if you’re experiencing both at the same time?
It is very rare to have everything in your life happening perfectly at once. And even when life is at its worst, there’s probably at least one thing that is going right, at least one positive.
I think it all boils down to perspective. Are you going to be optimistic and grateful even in the valleys? Or are you going to be pessimistic and insatiable on the hills?
My sophomore year of college was full of a lot of ups and a lot of downs. January of that year, I went on a mission trip to Jamaica with 59 other Greek students from Mizzou. I went into that trip with a heavy heart. I had a really rough fall semester for a variety of reasons and I was feeling very far from God. In fact, I felt pretty broken. I was nervous because I knew only a handful of people on that trip and felt a little out of place.
My 20th birthday fell halfway through the week. Even though I didn’t really tell anyone it was my birthday, I kept receiving messages of love from everyone around me. That day, I got to deliver 80+ backpacks of school supplies to local schoolchildren who sang to me Happy Birthday and added an extra verse (apparently common there), “May God bless you.” And He really did.
That night, one of my fellow Jamericans (as we called ourselves) asked me to name 20 things I was thankful for over the past year. I got stuck. I couldn’t name 20. But he held me to this list until I could get through it. He probably doesn’t know how much that question shook me.
I was obviously going through a valley in my life, but there were so many hills I was missing because I was too focused on the low points.
When I returned to school, my friend/future roommate and I wanted to get away from campus one afternoon. We chose a path we didn’t normally hike on and we came upon this hill that had a beautiful 360 degree view of everything around us. We spent the next few hours journaling and reading.
I think this is why I really resonate to this hills and valleys metaphor. Being on a hill gives you so much perspective. When you leave the hill, all you have is a snapshot of what the beauty around you looked like. However, you can carry it with you even in the valleys if you remember to do so.
So it is with our lives. When we are on the hills, we need to take in the beauty of the moment for what it is, but not forget it when we return to the valley. That’s how we experience both the hills and valleys of life at once. Understanding perspective. Knowing that this isn’t the end.
“For even if the mountains walk away
and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won’t walk away from you,
my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.”
The God who has compassion on you says so.” -Isaiah 54:10