Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mountains to Climb

I love the mountains.  Having grown up in Chicago, obviously, I didn't see a ton of them on a day to day basis. We visited family in Utah every year or so. And we enjoyed playing in the mountains when we were there.  In 1994, we moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, NV.  Surrounded by mountains, I quickly grew to love their beauty.  College and our early married life in Utah only intensified that.  The mountains are amazing.  Beautiful, full of so many adventures and majestic (isn't that the word used to describe them? If not just forget that last word).  So, know that I love mountains. 

When I was at BYU for college and while Justin attended after we married, I took the chance on only 1 occasion--- sadly--- to hike up the side of the mountains above BYU to the huge Y painted into the side of the mountain.  It was a hike.. I don't remember much about the hike, but there were lots of turns, lots of uphill climbs and lots of loose rocks... But maybe I am remembering that's been a LONG time.  You hike up to the Y hang out, enjoy the view and then hike back down. To put into perspective the trail breaks off at one point. One trail goes to the top of the Y one to either the middle or bottom, I honestly don't remember.  Here's the stats on the Y "The large white Y on the side of the mountain has become the nationally recognized insignia for BYU and the reason why BYU is often called "the Y". It is made of concrete and is 380 feet high and 130 feet wide (116 by 40 m). The Y is even larger than the "Hollywood Sign" in Los Angeles." So yeah, it's a big letter and a kinda big hike.  

Also while at BYU, Justin and I met our good friend Nate Lindorf, who got us into some rock climbing.  I didn't do a ton of it, because we already had Jaicie and then at one point I was pregnant with Felicity, but we loved rock climbing.  Hitting the top of the climb and coming back down was exhilarating.  It was so much fun. I love rock climbing (with the right equipment).

I say all this, because I want you to really understand that I love the mountains before I jump into the next part... So you got it? I love mountains....

So here it goes....

I HATE mountains.  But these mountains are not the physical landscapes that we can go and play on and climb, ski down.  The mountains that I hate are the not so physical (though sometimes they are) mountains that we find ourselves having to climb.  The ones that build character, help us learn lessons, make us better, stronger people...or sometimes just tear us down and leave a shell behind.  The mountains that seem climb to the top and feel like you are finally going to hit the downhill slope only to find another mountain in your path...and then you don't even pray for a downhill slope anymore, just a plateau, a reprieve from the strenuous climb to catch your breath.  So let's be honest, you hate those mountains too right? 

We all have mountains to climb. My mountains, like my sins, are different than yours, but no more difficult for me to deal with than you to deal with yours.  So I won't go into my list of my mountains over the past few months. But I have had to climb lots of mountains.  Justin's mom recently asked him if he felt like Job yet? It was an eye opening question... Our mountains are not that big... I still get to hold all my babies in my arms whenever I want, I still have a home to live in, I still have a husband by my side, my friends stand by me and support me... Heck sometimes they even hand me a rope to help me out, or give me a push so I can reach that next hold.  Do I feel like Job? No, not even close. But does that mean that my mountains aren't hard... No it doesn't.  

I read a story yesterday about a woman and her husband who are preparing to watch their son die in the coming days from a brain tumor, days... He never even got to go to kindergarten and they have to prepare a funeral in the coming days and lay him to rest.  How completely heartbreaking. Clearly their mountain to climb. 

I spoke with someone recently who lost a baby in the early weeks of pregnancy. A very difficult mountain to climb. 

My mom, 8 years ago, died of the 3 years leading up to her death and following her diagnosis, she talked a lot about lessons she had to learn.  She told me once "there is something The Lord has that I need to learn from all of this.  When I learn it, it'll all be okay." Mom had a lot of mountains she climbed in her life, cancer, kidney failure, heart failure, and comas being only a small list of her lifetime of mountains.  She also lost a nearly full term baby who had anencephaly and lived for only 5 hours, who she never got to even see. Mom had mountains, and she climbed them with grace and dignity and she came out on top... Maybe a little further than just on top, she came out singing with the angels cause she kicked those mountains butts. 

I have thought a lot about these mountains.  My mountains, the mountains my family have and are facing, the mountains in the lives of my friends and the mountains in the world around me.  We have a lot of mountains.  Two things come to mind: first "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high..." (D&C 121:7-8)  and second: "know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (D&C 122:7-8)

Clearly, as my mom told me just days after being diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, we have lessons to learn, and when we've learned them, it will all be okay.  So maybe instead of hating the mountains, I should embrace them and kick the mountains butt so I can come out on top... Just hopefully not with the angels anytime soon... (jk) 

One more quote for you...actually a little quoted story...

"My mother fought cancer for nearly 10 years. Treatments and surgeries and finally confinement to her bed were some of her trials.

I remember my father saying as he watched her take her last breath, “A little girl has gone home to rest.

One of the speakers at her funeral was President Spencer W. Kimball. Among the tributes he paid, I remember one that went something like this: “Some of you may have thought that Mildred suffered so long and so much because of something she had done wrong that required the trials.” He then said, “No, it was that God just wanted her to be polished a little more.” I remember at the time thinking, “If a woman that good needed that much polishing, what is ahead for me?” (Mountains to Climb, Henry B Eyring)

Maybe, this year, we have just needed a little more polishing...

Regardless, there will always be some sort of mountain to climb. I think more important than how we come out of them, is how we come through them.  How do we make that climb and what do we learn while doing take a minute and see if you can figure out where your mountain is taking you and what lessons you can learn. 

And love the mountains... they are pretty beautiful!

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