This idyllic slice of Oregon paradise is deceptive as some things of beauty can be.
Sure, it looks peaceful. It looks leisurely and tranquil enough to quiet the hormone-raging mother of a new infant standing out of frame.
But what you don't see in this photo was the real killer of this beautiful locale.
Pretend this is Google Earth and that you can zoom back about 15 feet and then orient to the left and up a bit...and there you would see it. The quaint stone path makes a pretty decent curve along the bottom part of this photo and sharply angles up the hill in a series of switchbacks that takes you back up to the cozy lodge above waiting with warm beverages and a comfy chair for a soft body still recovering from pregnancy and labor.
What seemed to be an endless series of upward leading paths was really not that bad, I know. I know that with my child-bearing days behind me and a less of that soft body, I could book right up those couple of graded paths in no time. But back then, it was a slightly more herculean task as I tightened down my baby sling and forged ahead. In my mind, I was climbing this...
...which I have actually driven up (and walked some) in Greece, but that's another story and this is not even my photo. But I digress...
What has me thinking about switchbacks, you ask?
For no apparent reason, the song, "The Climb" by Mylie Cyrus (don't judge me!) came to my mind earlier this evening...and specifically the lines,
"There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle....
...it's the Cliiimmmb...yada, yada
(insert fist pump of victory here)
Okay...it wasn't for "no apparent reason." I was thinking about a "mountain" in my life that we are just starting to climb. It's a mountain of diagnostic and scholastic testing, tears and trials as we seek to find answers to why our precociously precious seven-year-old continues to struggle to read, remember and choose correct behavior, go to sleep before her parents on a nightly basis and more. The words "ADHD" have been mentioned. I have spoken aloud, "dyslexia" a few times as well.
The tough thing is that we really don't know. But we are looking for answers...and we are just starting what seems to be a very long and uphill battle.
And I'm a little bit upset with God. There, I said it. Even though I know that we have had a very good and easy life compared to many, we have still struggled with our fair shares of trials and burdens. Sometimes it starts to weigh heavy and I was internally dialoguing about this with God and sharing my frustration about how it seems like you just climb one mountain and crest it and lo and behold...there is another one right behind it!
And as soon as I had that thought, I immediately had the thought...not another mountain. It's one mountain.
It's the mountain.
It's my mountain.
The mountain of my life.
I don't know why I intrinsically still feel like I warrant a plateau-topped mountain and that once I arrive (sooner, rather than later), I can just stay there until it's my time to leave it and move on to my home in heaven. But such is the human condition.
But if I'm honest, I know that God promises no such thing to any of us. He doesn't even promise that we get to walk down the backside of our mountain into the cool, clear water of His forever.
We all have our Mountain. We all have to climb it.
But, I feel like he was telling me tonight that it was never his plan for me try to heedlessly race to the top mindless or rock outcroppings, fallen trees and poisonous bushes. That type of climb is just asking for calamity, exhaustion and a big fat blister.
Enter the switchback....
Switchbacks are the answer to sustaining a long and arduous climb. The idea of zigging and the zagging at an acute angle that allows for a steady and gradual summit-ting is the wisest choice. Choosing the switchback path allows you to make that climb, but save your strength and your sanity.
The best part of the switchback?
The "<;" -- the part where you stand in the furthermost point on the corner of the coming and the going and this part is always the most level, the most stable, the most firm-footing you will have in the switchback.
It allows you to see from where you've come.
It allows you to see from where you'll be going.
...although it doesn't always allow you to see how far you still have to climb.
And, that is the tough part....we so desperately want to see the top of our Mountain. To see how much more energy we will need to expend. To know when we will be able to put our weary feet up and exclaim, "I have arrived!"
But the longer I'm alive, the more I'm convinced that this is not how life (or more specifically my life) truly goes. We climb that gradual ascent and sometimes it's many, many steps until we reach that corner point. Sometimes we get to pull out the tent and set it up in that safest of spots and enjoy the beauty and life around us. Sometimes.
But most of the time...we climb.
So tonight in my heart, I am finishing up the breaking down of "camp" on the corner point. I'm packing up the sleeping bag, tent, coffee pot (so important!), and snuffing out the campfire. I'm hoisting up my backpack and putting on my hiking boots. Because the next switchback of my life awaits. I cannot pretend any longer that it's not time to take that first painful step.
It's time to move.
It's time to move.
It's time to climb.
And tonight I'm finding gratitude in the switchback and that I can fully rely on God and His faithfulness -- and that one day I will be able to stand on that next corner point (whether I can set up camp there for awhile is another story) and look back at His gracious hand of guidance and be all the better for the journey.