When we stop to think about it, life is lived between mountain tops and valleys. Sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time in one or the other places. All of us are still emerging from a valley none of us ever expected or knew existed before the beginning of last year. While many of us may still be physically living in that valley, I hope this week’s post helps you mentally rise to the top of the mountain anyway.
The mountain top can represent many things and is likely somewhat different for each one of us. For many, it may be an annual family vacation. For others, it may be as simple as enjoying a sunrise or sunset. Personally, I experienced a mountain top experience yesterday on multiple fronts. For the first time in over a year, I attended a church service with a full congregation. I celebrated Easter with 4-5,000 other folks. That in itself was a delight after months of quarantine. To put your mind at ease, we were fortunate enough to celebrate outside, socially distanced at SMU’s Ford Field.
It was a beautiful way to celebrate Easter and to experience corporate worship again. As a Christian, Easter is my favorite holiday. Its significance to me personally is a deeply moving, emotional occasion. Each year we also host a family brunch after church that always includes at least 15-20 family members. The food my wife prepares and the fellowship with family is among the most significant family traditions we share. Last year we were forced to miss both.
The real issue I want to draw your attention to this week is this: how do we carry the joys we experience in our mountaintop experiences into everyday life? It’s a simple question, but as we often discover, the answers are not easy. When we are on top of the mountain, we often feel like we will never struggle with life’s challenges again. But how many times have you experienced an incredibly difficult trial immediately after coming down off the mountain? I can answer this question for you and say, almost every time.
So, it seems we are faced with the dilemma of deciding how to swing between the highs without getting trapped by the lows. Most of us could ascertain how not to do it. Trying to “gut it out,” ignore facts, and procrastinate or avoid difficult situations do not provide answers, except to push the decision further down the road, which is unproductive at best.
I have three suggestions to help you “valley proof” those joys you seem to have misplaced when you came back down into the valley.
The first is gratitude. I suggest a journal or an app to track all of the things in your life that you are thankful for. Even if you only take 1-2 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to write down 2-3 things you are thankful for. Soon, you will have a wonderful list and a great resource to refer to when things are dragging you down. I challenge you to make gratitude a habit. You will soon find yourself finding more and more things to be grateful for.
The next thing I encourage you to do is to get and stay connected. Connected with what? Or who? That is up to you, but find a trusted friend, a mentor, a coach, or someone you admire and forge a relationship with them. The old saying is true that two heads are better than one. The quickest way to get unstuck is to talk out your fears and frustrations with a trusted advisor. Of course, as a Christian, I cannot more highly recommend my Best Friend as the best possible Person to get connected with.
Finally, I want to suggest that you take time for some much-needed self-care. Most of you are very good at running through each day and week at break-neck speed and doing whatever needs to happen to get the job done. The problem is most of us never take any time to recharge our batteries. The truth is we can and will show up better if we are better ourselves. You don’t have to go on a month-long sabbatical. Take 5 minutes to walk outside, read a book, listen to music or call a friend. Something that will make you feel better so that you will be better every day.
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