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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

We all have a hill to climb

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“Life is a hill.”

That’s what I recently told one of my close friends who has been going through some very challenging times personally and professionally. She was feeling really discouraged and desolate and simply needed someone who had an open heart and a listening ear.

“Shannon, what do you mean ‘life is a hill'” she asked in her sista-girl voice. “I have some major things going wrong in my life right now and you want to talk about hills, valleys and mountains!”

Her response got a good laugh out of both of us. After our girlish giggles subdued, I tried to explain my statement.

“Life really is a hill,” I said. “Actually, life is a series of steep hills that sporadically appear at different points in our lives and it’s our choice to climb them or give up.”

I proceeded to tell my friend that I knew her strength, determination and Christian spirit, so I was more than confident in her ability to climb the current hill in her life.

“Once you get to the top, the journey becomes much easier,” I assured her.

As I pondered on my own words, I quickly grabbed the notebook and pen I keep in my purse for moments such as these and I wrote elements of our conversation down. I thought perhaps my words could help someone else when they felt discouraged or faced adverse situations.

The remainder of the conversation with my friend consisted of me and her sharing some of our “hill” stories with each other. As our conversation progressed, I noticed something that was rather impactful and provided me with better insight on life’s challenges. When we began each hill story, they all started off the same: how challenging the time was, the pain we felt, the sense of not knowing what was next, etc. However, just as our hill stories began the same, so too did they end. She and I both felt stronger, more courageous and an enhanced sense of focus once we reached the top of each hill. It was actually quite funny because some of our hill stories that were challenging at the time seemed so frivolous at this point in our lives – my friend and I actually shared hearty laughs as we reminisced. Other hill stories, like the feelings of loss and despair I felt after my mom’s death, will never be laughable moments or even avoidable, but they can be examples of perseverance and testaments of God’s grace.

The point I am trying to make is that we all have hills to climb. During the climb, we may often get tired, discouraged and feel overwhelmed, but once we reach the top not only is the journey over, but we also have a better view of what lays ahead. We have a clearer frame of mind and can see the big picture, so we are better able to access our lives from that point forward.

Here’s an example of how we can use our “hill moments” to better influence our lives:

Go to any jail or prison in this state and you are sure to find an inmate who made some foolish choices in life that resulted in their incarceration. The time they spend in jail is their hill. However, they reach the top of the hill on the exact day they are released. On that day (and the days leading up to it), the offender should reflect on the past, but also establish a plan for his future. He should use his hill as a lesson learned and take the necessary steps to ensure that he doesn’t have to climb that same hill.

Indeed life is a hill, but it doesn’t always have to consist of hills. There are things we can do to prevent some hills in our life. We can spend money more efficiently, work harder, institute a healthy standard of living or remove ourselves from bad relationships. The list could go on and on.

If there is anything I wish for you to take away from this week’s editorial, it is to never give up. I have climbed many hills in my life and some were very steep. However, I never gave up. There is power in not giving up.

By the way, my friend who was having such a tough time recently was actually promoted at work this week. Sometimes our hills in life are actually tests. If you endure the hills, a reward is sure to follow…if nothing else but the feeling of accomplishment for making it up the hill.

You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at [email protected]

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