It is a fairly common saying that hard times are valleys and good times are mountains. What’s up with that? I find valleys to be rather pleasant: the ground is even, the weather more mild, no obstacles. Mountains are incredibly hard to surmount and once you are at the top you have to go back down again – a treacherous undertaking. Sure, the view may be nice from the top but you’ve fought like hell to get there and have to be careful that you don’t severely injure yourself on your descent.
Perhaps because I don’t have an adventurous spirit I’m not as fond of mountains. Who knows. All I know is that, for me, hard times are more like being trapped in a pitch-black cave that is running out of oxygen. I can’t see anything and the blackness is consuming me and driving me further and further into madness. I can’t breathe. I’m fumbling in the dark and falling over rocks and running into walls while gasping for air that is quickly becoming more scarce by the minute. I get desperate enough that I begin to obsess on how to end it. I would do anything to end it. Anything.
At least on a mountain or in a valley you have some air and light.
I am slowly emerging from a week-long (or more) cave experience. The dark hopelessness is gradually retreating and I can breathe just a bit easier. I’m not completely out yet but am thankful that I can at least see some light now. I’m clawing my way toward it.
When I’m in the cave I feel entirely alone and invisible. I feel like it will never end. It is hard to grasp the concept that there is indeed a person or two who can see through the darkness. They carry hope and are desperately trying to hand it to me, to alleviate the pain and suffocation and desperation. But it takes awhile for me to realize that they are there and it takes me an even longer time to finally grasp that lifeline of hope that they are holding out to me.
And when I emerge from the cave blinded by the light and sore, weary, and tired from trying to escape the darkness there they are, saying:
“I’m so sorry you were in unbearable pain. My heart aches for you. I had faith in you. I knew you were going to make it and I am so relieved to see you in the light again. I was there with you. I am here with you. You are not alone.“