In Plain View
I’ve lived in Northern Colorado for almost three years. Growing up in Texas, I have been accustomed to a much different landscape for most of my life. Wide open prairies, tall pine trees, and rolling hills are the hallmarks of Texas living.
And also tacos. But that’s just a side note.
I have discovered that the hallmarks of my particular area in northern Colorado are towering mountain peaks boasting sharp angles and glorious, vibrant color. Since moving here in 2016, I have yet to grow tired of the breathtaking views that I enjoy each day. Shortly after our move, I pulled over and parked in the grocery store parking lot to pause and take in the view of the horizon. I sat for quite some time, marveling at the grandeur of the scene. Granted I was stalling, because a trip to the grocery store feels like self-inflicted torture. Nonetheless, as I sat there, I couldn’t believe those majestic peaks, still dusted with snow in the middle of June, were practically in my own backyard!
Over time, I haven’t stopped marveling at the peaks, yet they have become very familiar to me. With every trip to Target, every carpool run, every evening walk…they’re right there. They have become a familiar fixture, ever-present during my most mundane, daily tasks, and routines. My town is snuggly nestled on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and I have simply come to expect those mountains in my view at every turn.
When the Unexpected Happens
My drive to work is fairly ordinary, except for the fact that I get to gaze lovingly at my mountains as I’m winding down the back country roads. (A welcomed change from my previous commutes, where my view was a 6 lane highway and a concrete jungle!) I can’t imagine not having this view. My mountains are as much a part of my morning commute as my second cup of coffee – technically third if the 24 oz Yeti mug is coming along for the ride.
One brisk morning, I opened the garage door and backed out of our driveway to find that the neighborhood was covered in a dense fog. As I traveled down the road, I quickly turned off my podcast and focused solely on driving. I was now traveling much slower than the posted 30 mph on my community streets. Meanwhile, I suddenly became anxious because the view beyond my windshield extended no more than about 15 feet. I became uncomfortable, a little disconcerted, and truthfully, really annoyed.
And then, worry set in.
I began to worry about what other drivers were doing, knowing that if they were driving too fast in a fog this thick, it could cause an accident. My thoughts instantly shifted to my girls on their school bus, silently wondering if their driver would think to turn on the headlights. Worrying becomes as natural as breathing when I find myself faced with uncertainty.
I wanted to see what was coming up….I needed to see what was coming up ahead, but I couldn’t. Based on experience, I could take a guess at what was in front of me, but my eyes continued to strain, unsuccessfully, to see something familiar. The most obvious problem was the fact that I couldn’t see my mountains. As I drove, the beautiful mountains that frame my view every morning were gone, no longer in plain view.
When we Can’t Find Our Way
When I was faced with this enormous change in my view and in my routine, my emotions turned to discomfort and uncertainty, and the heaviness of the fog mirrored my overall mood. I was instantly grumpy and unsettled.
Similarly, what happens when the sturdy, familiar fixtures in our lives are suddenly gone? When the unexpected events of our life suddenly cloud our view, it can certainly cause us to feel disconcerted. As if we can’t seem to find our way. Whether it’s a job change, a brand new diagnosis, or the end of a relationship – life can change in an instant. As a result, we find ourselves standing face to face with life’s biggest challenges, surrounded by a dense fog, and unable to see what lies just ahead. And it’s completely out of our control. It’s frustrating, disorienting, and often times, terrifying. Our mood takes a dramatic shift from being content, to suddenly feeling like we’re walking around with a blindfold over our eyes, playing a grown-up version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Emerging from the Fog
I drove along, thinking of all the days filled with clear blue skies and sunshine that I had taken for granted. In the midst of my strife, I rounded a corner and suddenly…instantly…the fog lifted. In contrast to the colorless air that had previously surrounded me, the vibrant colors of the landscape were in full view. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the cloud, that I had just emerged from, had not disappeared. The world behind me was still blanketed in white. However, I was on the other side of it with a whole new perspective…a clear view in front of me. I glanced to my right to find the mountain peaks just where they have always been, revealing their majesty. They were there the entire time.
When life delivers the punches that inevitably knock the breath out of us, there is beauty to come from our circumstances. Even when we can’t see it right away. We just have to wait for the fog to lift. We keep moving forward. One day at a time, one minute at a time, sometimes even one second at a time. Ultimately, the glory and goodness that is promised will come from our hardships will be revealed in time. Our steadfastness and perseverance will guide us through until we’re on the other side of the fog.
Discover Your Strength
We learn the most about ourselves – who we truly are – through our trials. When the unexpected happens, we have a great opportunity to grow. A wellspring of courage, bravery, and determination begins to flow through us. It changes who we are to our very core. As a result, we are armed with these tools that allow us to face the battles of life with endurance. We emerge, a stronger version of ourselves, and realize that blue skies and clear days always return. Vibrant color will fill our lives once again.