Foggy mountains

Photo by Jaroslaw Pocztarski

Imagine two hills with a valley in the center. You’re in the valley, and you hear God’s voice to climb up one of the hills.

You do, which gives you a different visual perspective than what you had in the valley. You can see your surroundings much more clearly.

You need to be on the other hill. You can see this standing on that hill, but you couldn’t see it in the valley. God wanted you to see the view.  For some reason, His plan for you to be on the other hill wouldn’t have mattered to you as much if you climbed it first without the gift of a better perspective.

There are times when He asks us to climb a hill that seems so… random.  Unnecessary.  An exercise in futility.  And we wonder why on earth He wants us to climb, sweat, and work with all our strength, when the mountain feels purposeless, and all that’s rewarded is the clarity that you need to be on the other mountain.

When we first moved overseas a few years ago, it didn’t take long for our little family of three to hit rock bottom.  Early on, I struggled with doubt after doubt — What were we thinking?  Are we sure we heard God right?  There’s no way He meant this.

A few months into the cross-cultural life, I was diagnosed with depression.  My doctor suggested we seek help quickly, which ultimately meant a two-month trek to the other side of the world.

There in Thailand, I met with wise counsel, and together, we confirmed that I had actually been dealing with post-partum depression since my daughter’s birth more than two years ago.  Now, pregnant with my second and in the thick of culture stress, all my coping mechanisms were shot.

God’s plan for me was to climb the mountain of depression.  It was hard, and I didn’t want to.  But He walked with me, and I exercised muscles I didn’t know I had.  I got stronger.

And once we summitted, I could see a bit more of His perspective.  It was clearer past the clouds.  I saw the next mountain, the one that represented cross-cultural life.  I saw that if I were to thrive on that mountain, traversing those paths, I needed the experience I just received.  I needed new strength.

Perhaps God wants you to have a different view on things.  A better view.  A clearer view.  He needs you to see things a little closer to His perspective.  His timeline is not yours, so He’s got ample time to let you exercise your muscles on the first mountain.  You’ll be in much better shape to tackle that second mountain.

Are you climbing a mountain, and it feels like an exercise in futility?  Are you sweating, wondering what on earth God has in store for you at the mountaintop?  Do you feel like God is putting mountains in your path that do nothing but cause you to work?

He has something up His sleeve.  He needs your legs to be strong for your next mountain.  He has words to whisper to you as you climb this peak before you.  His priority is your wholeness, your wellness, your character.

At the summit, the clouds will break, and you will see something.  Something you couldn’t see in the valley.  Perhaps it will be your next mountain.  You’ll see your trail, the mile markers, your upcoming obstacles.  He’ll show you things you’ll need to carry in your pack so that you can tackle that feat.

But you would have never known this if you stayed in the valley.  His purposes are good.  His plan is perfect.  And His strength will be yours.

He said so.

What mountain are you climbing?  Which one do you think is next?

by Tsh

  • Larie

    What is is Lord? You are giving majority of the blogs I visit this message. Okay, so, what is it? Lord I am tired, I jsut want to be happy all the time. Anton should not have to deal with my unstable mind! The Zoloft is not working, do I need it increased again! What do I have to do? Aaaahhhhhhhh

  • Abbie

    Hmm. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this idea presented this way before, but I like it. Except that I think it’s real and means I’ll be climbing some seemingly useless hills. I suppose right now it’s the hill of getting over MYself and MY time in caring for small children 24/7. Seems like I can’t get a minute to think or get sane or even pray.

  • Jennifer

    I am on my way up a very high and seemingly pointless mountain. I want to climb a different one. I want off this road and I want to take the path of least resistance as I’ve always done. And I can’t and I won’t. But I do need help, I do need that strength that only comes from God. Thanks for sharing. I know many women struggle with depression, and I am one of them. This is a rough, tough, and complicated mountain.

  • Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

    Oh Tsh – Exactly! When we look back on our spiritual journey, it’s the times where we had to climb these mountains, sometimes sliding back down, only to climb them again. It’s there where He meets us, reaches out His hand and helps us make it to the precipice. Imagine if we just lived on top of the mountain all the time..the beauty is staggering, but short lived…it was the journey that took our breath away. :)
    I am straddling a few different climbs all at once right now, and can’t wait to flex these biceps and quads when I’m done. :0

  • Stephanie

    A verse that always comes back to me is from Psalm 112:7 “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord”. It is amazing to me that when I focus on God’s will and not my own I have peace in the midst of the storm. What a relief it is to know that we can trust Him and His ways.
    I couldn’t help but think of the book Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard while reading this beautiful post. If you haven’t read it, do so!

  • Denise

    I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study on Esther. Just this morning I read that “strength comes from a muscle and muscle develops with a workout. What we don’t work – we lose”
    What is true physically is also true spiritually.

  • Shilo

    Thank you for sharing that, Tsh. I appreciate that you are a real person who God is using greatly!

  • Kool Aid

    I love the way you explain the “randomness” of life. Sometimes it really is about getting that perspective. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Tabitha

    Oh, my, that sounds so similar to what I went through with PPD…and I would be strong for days and days, then finally just cry out, “WHY is this happening?!?!” It was very frustrating. BUT…you are so right, I worked muscles I never knew I had. God was always with me. I now have tools that help me cope with the ups and downs of life like never before…and I have a new sympathy for people going through similar situations. I am stronger. And I am walking more closely to God than ever. He is amazing!

  • DZ

    Tsh, I don’t know you, but it’s obvious you know some of how God works from this article. My mother passed a month ago Monday at 55. Caring for her brought me back in the path of a former boyfriend who holds atheistic beliefs. I keep feeling like I’ve already climbed this mountain getting over him. Why am I on the same mountain? And why am I on the mountain of viewing life without my mother? I don’t know, but I do know that even if God never brings a husband in my life, he is showing me that my former boyfriend’s life and pursuits are hollow and never to look back again on him as a land of canaan forbidden to me. Being with my father and seeing how he pursued business as my former boyfriend did revealed that to me. And hearing the hollow words of comfort of this guy also showed me how deeply I desire to share my faith with a spouse. And I do know now that I want a husband who treats me with respect and openness in finances in a way that was foreign to my parents. So even though I the other mountains I want to climb in the range seem far off, the mountains of marriage and a suitable career, the perspective on this mountain is important in order for me to appreciate what I’m leaving behind.
    Thanks for your well put metaphor.

  • Jackie@Lilolu

    Tsh, thank you for that. I have a mountain I have been climbing for a while. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up and say, “That’s it…I give up!” Those whispers you speak of NEVER let me and I’m grateful for it.

  • Larie

    Tsh, I am so sorry for going off in my comment earlier. Please forgive me, please. I am not asking you to excuse my behavior, but just know that I have been going through it lately with my depression!
    I also apologize for making it all about me when I should have been thanking you for courageously sharing this and writing it in a way that is easy to understand. You have also offered much comfort! You really did well with this post. I am looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Lisa

    Tsh, thanks so much for being so transparent here. A beautiful – if difficult – truth.

  • Erin

    Thank you!! During this climb I desperately needed the encouragement I got from your post. Thanks for being so open and honest.

  • Debbie

    I think you wrote this post for me! I can so relate even though my particular circumstances are different from yours. I’ve been going through such a season of depression. It is situational as life has turned upside down for me lately. I used to hike a mountain behind my house every morning and now I’ve not had the energy to do so. But when I hiked to the top of that mountain, I was so aware of a different perspective. And I always came down from the mountain with much to write in my journal. Your post has inspired me and helped me. So, now that you touched another today with your words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Melissa

    I am climbing that mountain that seems to go on forever and is so confusing right now. My husband and I feel that we are playing the guessing game with God and He is not answering. We are both so stressed that our bodies are wearing out. I know we are not alone and that God is working it out ahead of us, we just have to be still and have faith.

  • Erica

    My family and I are trying to climb, but it seems unending and we are tired. We have been hit with so many more bills and needs this month and our income is at the lowest it has ever been in 9 years of marriage. We know that God is here with us, but I am struggling with the mountain of what if. How do you be still and let God fill your needs? How do you wait on the Lord when the fridge is getting empty and you need diapers? My heart knows “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches and glory through Christ Jesus,” but mind is not convinced.

  • Rosario

    Wow, God speaks to us in very unique ways. Thanks for this post. I too feel like I have been climbing from mountain to mountain. Over the years God has made me experience things that have made me stronger in faith. My brother’s illness, a miscarriage, my daughter’s scoliosis, my husband telling me he had a daughter after four years of being married,and the list goes on. Through all situations, God has always been there helping me along the way.

  • Pingback: Mountains and valleys | Simple Mom()