Lessons From The Mountain {Part III: The Gift Is In The Journey}


I still find it difficult to believe.

If you were to rewind to a year ago, you’d find me hobbling around on hideous pink crutches with a fractured hip, wondering if I would even be able to run again.

9 months ago, I was staring down in beautiful disbelief at a positive pregnancy test - later only to find myself in disbelief of a different kind as we lost the baby and with it, a million tiny hopes.

6 months ago, still reeling from the miscarriage, I still couldn’t bring myself to run, weighted down by a lack of motivation and depression.

And a mere 4 months ago, a relatively flat 3 mile trail run felt hard. But I was running again.

And on Saturday, I’m preparing to run 17 miles over a 13,000 ft. mountain pass. I don’t know how the race will go. I don’t know what state I’ll be in at the finish line. I don’t know if I will even cross the finish line. But one thing I do know, the gift has been in the journey.

How often do I want to fast forward through the hard places in life, the places wrought with big, uncomfortable, painful, feelings? The answer to that is ALWAYS. Who wants to stay in the hard places? We want to be done with the pain. We want to arrive at the unforeseeable end, with the pain fading away in our rearview mirror. But the truth is, we can’t get to the end unless we go on the journey. We can’t get to the finish line unless we run the race and log the countless grueling training miles. We can’t get to the end of the pain without going through it first.

Grief is a tricky beast. We can’t just sit down and say, “ok, now I’m going to do this whole grieving thing and then be done with it.” It doesn’t work like that. Grief comes and goes and comes again, sometimes sending it’s counterpart, sadness, to hang on with a vengeance. I couldn’t make myself feel all my sadness at one time, so I took a step. And then another one, and then another one, and before I knew it, I was covering miles and climbing mountains, pounding out the sadness, one step at a time. I was living it, feeling it, and with each mile, letting a little more of it go.

When I set out on this wild adventure, carrying a tired body and a sad heart, chasing a seemingly unattainable goal - some how self-propelling my body from one mountain town to another - I could not have fathomed the many gifts that would come along the way. I started off thinking that the race would be the gift, but no, the gifts were in the journey. Gifts like watching a growing strength emerge with each steep hillside and rugged peak I climbed; the whisper of God meeting me on the trail, beckoning me forth, and using fields of brilliant wildflowers to fill me with hope and life; the gift of time and space to think and feel and pray; the gift of running up a lung-busting mountain only to find that while I couldn't breathe physically, I could breathe emotionally for the first time in months; the beauty of powerful, rushing streams to remind me that water, the softest of elements, has the ability to cut right through rock, the hardest of elements; a greater appreciation for the body that God gave me and all that it can do; a swelling confidence in my ability to do hard and unimaginable things; and a growing comfort with being uncomfortable, for it is in the struggle that we grow. The journey too meaningful and the gifts too many to recount.

{The slideshow below shows a some of the journey and the gifts I've received along the way}

Regardless of how this race turns out, the gift was definitely in the journey. 

As I struggled and {often reluctantly} heaved myself up mountain after mountain, feeling like I was going to die, I re-learned how to live. And it all began with a step, a step in the direction of pain rather than away from it. 

Does a part of me wish that I would be hitting that "full-term" milestone of being 37 weeks pregnant tomorrow rather than being pregnant only with the pain from running up and over a mountain? Of course I do. And yet, I can't help but feel thankful for the sweet unexpected gifts that have come along on this unwanted journey.

 10,000 reasons for my heart to sing.