A few years ago our family visited Machu Picchu in Peru. In researching for the trip, I decided to climb Huayna Picchu, the smaller of the two mountains at the historic Inca site. Known as the “Stairs of Death,” this climb leads you to one of the most rewarding and amazing views.
The climb consists of hiking, climbing steps and sometimes even crawling. Recognized by many as one of the most incredible adventures on the planet, the entire trip —from start to finish — is usually completed in only three hours.
Mountain climbing is not my thing. I’m a scaredy-cat.
Yet, I had been asking Jesus to take me to risky places I wouldn’t normally go because of my fear. Professionally, I had just finished writing my first book which took me totally out of my comfort zone. The project had challenged me mentally and spiritually. I needed a break so a physical challenge piqued my interest. I was in pretty good shape so why not try a mountain climb to take me to my next risky place?
When I look back at the total mountain climbing journey, the word thrive comes to mind. The top of the mountain was exhilarating, but the peak was only part of the experience. The preparation for the climb, the actual climb, and the descent added to the whole adventure.
In reflection, I discovered a lot about thriving and realized mountain experiences may look different at different times in our lives.
Living through a pandemic has helped me see that we can thrive even when the mountain doesn’t meet our expectations or the climb doesn’t feel all that risky. This realization made me ask, “Is it possible to thrive when the whole world is placed on hold?” I say, “Yes.”
If you struggle because you feel like you aren’t thriving, I know how you feel! I’ve struggled too. Let me share with you a definition I discovered which helps me look at thriving in a whole new way. According to Merriam-Webster we thrive when we progress toward or realize a goal in despite of or because of circumstances.
I love this definition of thrive because progress is part of thriving and circumstances are not qualifiers. You really can thrive no matter where you are on your journey and regardless of what your mountain looks like.
We tend to think we thrive only when we’ve reached the top of the mountain. But progress is thriving. And progress occurs more often on the journey up and down the mountain than it does at the top.
So here’s what I’ve learned: Thriving doesn’t differentiate the bottom of the mountain from the the top of the mountain.
This is great news because we can truly thrive no matter where we are on our mountain journey. Instead of being overwhelmed by how high the mountain is in front of you, perhaps all you need to do today is turn around and see how far you’ve already come!
In my next post, I will share more about getting up the mountain when it seems impossible.