By Jodi Weaver
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.
I have never truly been mountain climbing, but I have seen many shows on television where people were climbing one and I always thought it must be a very exhilarating thing. Then I would see one of the climbers start to fall and I thought to myself, “how very terrifying that must be!” The other day I was watching TV and a commercial came on that had a man climbing a mountain and it started me to thinking about the comparison between climbing a mountain and grief.
When we first start the “climb” we look up at this mountain and think that we will never get to the top. It is too high, too steep, too rocky…..too everything! But we have no choice. If we are to go anywhere, we have to climb. We can’t go under it and we can’t go around it….we can only go over it. So we start climbing. The going is rough and we don’t make much headway at first. We have to slowly search for foot and hand holds. We have to be careful that we choose the right path. But the longer we climb the easier it seem to become. We finally get to where we are moving right along at a fair speed when all of a sudden one of our foot holds turns out to be too weak and we start to slide backwards. Sometimes we may slide all the way to the bottom again. Sometimes we only slide a few feet. But either way, we have to start climbing all over again. This time the going is easier because we know where the best path is to get back to where we fell. Then we have to slow down and start feeling our way again. When we finally make it to the top, we think we are home free. The scene that meets our eyes is beautiful. We would love to just sit there on that mountaintop and enjoy it forever. But again, we must continue onward. What we don’t realize is that sometimes the path down can be just as trying as the path up. If you get to going to fast, you could fall and slide too far off the correct path and you might even find yourself hanging from a cliff. So you have to find just the right speed. When you have finally reach the bottom of the other side, you have accomplished something wonderful. Unfortunately, for some they find out that they have made it, only to have another mountain looming in the way.
How does that compare to grief? Well, when we are looking at our grief at the beginning, we think we will never be able to “climb” up it. We know that we will never truly heal unless we go over this mountain, but we will put off the climb as long as possible. When we finally start, we have to slowly feel our way. We will think we are making good progress, when WHAM a foot hold gives way in the form of some one saying something that hurts, or an anniversary date, or even hearing a song on the radio. The first time this happens we usually will slide all the way back down to the bottom and have to start our climb all over again. After a while it gets easier and we don’t fall so far back down. When we finally make it to the top, we are content to just sit and admire the view. Maybe we are about 11 months out and we feel that we are finally “over” it. So we just sit and rest. Then we realize that the anniversary date is approaching and it is like suddenly rolling too fast down the other side. Before you know it you are dangling from an overhang or cliff, terrified that you will fall the rest of the way down without help. The pain of grief can seem so intense that you feel as if you are climbing without a rope. Once you finally make it down the other side things are looking better and you have finally reached “level ground” again. For some, like myself, another loss makes you realize that there is another mountain to climb before you can go on.
While I was climbing the mountain of grief with the boys, I felt that I should have been an old pro at it by now. I mean I had already climbed more mountains than most people climb in a lifetime, but that was not the case. It seemed that this one was even steeper than the others were and there were a lot more weak footholds that would see me sliding backwards. I found several verses that helped me. I always felt that God became my “rope” and that without Him, I would crash to the rocks below. I learned to trust fully upon Him to guide me to the next hand or foot hold and to trust that if I started slipping, that I was only going to slip as far as He allowed me to. He was my “safety harness”. He can be your safety harness too. All you have to do is depend wholly upon Him to guide and sustain you during your climb. Below are a few of the scriptures that led me to this feeling of safety. I hope and pray that they will give you the same feeling of peace and security that they have given me.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
2 Sam 22:37
Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.