As you read this article on Thursday, November 9, I am having my forty-second birthday. I’ve made another trip around the sun. I’ve spent another three hundred sixty-five days celebrating waking up each morning. The older I get, the faster each year seems to pass. In the past year, I’ve seen, done and learned a lot of things. While every year of my life has been significant, my forty-first year seemed especially full.
I have watched a couple friends bury their children and another few give birth to their ‘rainbow’ babies – those born after the loss of a child. I’ve watched as a few friends’ marriages crumbled and as divorces were finalized. I’ve seen others remarry, begin again, start fresh and smile once more after years of wearing a frown. I lost a friend in a tragic car accident and hugged her husband and kids as they grieved. I have seen the impact a few kind words of encouragement mailed on a little post card to students can make. I have found that mental healthcare needs more funding and awareness, and sadly, the way the stigma of mental illness is viewed. I’ve watched friends facing hurdles I would never want to leap over. I had an unfortunate front row seat to biopsies and tests and procedures and surgery that I never hoped to face; but got through them all with a good diagnosis, a small scar and loads of support from friends and family.
I’ve watched my oldest daughter conquer a full year of living on her own (and soaring far beyond my wildest expectations). I have seen my son overcome challenges and become a warrior, racing toward his future with confidence and a glimmer in his eyes. I’ve stood back and listened as my youngest has become one of the wisest people I know. All three of them make me so proud every day.
While life will always be filled with ups and downs, in the last year or two I have come face to face with the harsh realities (and the beaming beauties) of just how high and how low those times can be. We all face both ends of the spectrum in life, but it seems that some years are more jam-packed with good or bad than others. Many years ago at a church service, an older man said something that’s always stuck with me. He reminded everyone there that life is full of valleys and mountaintops. No matter which one you’re at right now, you will soon face the other. If you’re battling through a low valley, rest assured that your mountaintop is coming. No hard time is ever permanent. It will end and joy will return. And vice versa, if you’re on a mountaintop now, unfortunately hard times will come to you again. So cherish those high times and soak up the beauty of life when things are good. Build your faith and your hope so that when the hard times come, they will not overwhelm you.
Today, as I celebrate year number forty-two, I am on a mountaintop. I can look out over the valleys of several people I love and I’m cheering for them to make it to the top of the hill. I will try to throw them a rope and pull them up when I can because I know the day will come when it’ll be me at the bottom of the rope again. For today, I choose to leap with excitement, dance with joy and praise God that I am here. Are you on top of a mountain or in a valley today?