Last month I took a quick weekend trip to Boise to see one of my closest friends. I was excited to be able to finally take a mini vacation, after needing to cancel several scheduled trips in the past 12 months. Since it was my first time on a plane in almost a year, I was a little anxious to see how my brain would handle all the necessary evils of travel. But I made it through the airport without getting too overwhelmed, and I settled into my seat for the flight. As we taxied to the runway, I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer of gratitude. I opened my eyes and thought about the shunt infection and six surgeries this year, followed directly by losing a close friend in a tragic accident, and trying to pull things together at work. Even though it’s been the most challenging year of my life, I was healthy enough to take this quick break and see Andrea. As the plane took off, I looked out the window.
It was a beautiful day in Portland, and although it’s getting later in the fall, the trees are still flaming with brilliant colors. Maybe it was because I am feeling more reflective and raw right now, or maybe it’s because I haven’t seen that bird’s eye view of Portland in a long time. But in that moment, I had a perspective of the landscape that I’ve never had before. I noticed how varied the terrain is in Oregon – with the trees, rivers, valleys and hills. Mount Hood was absolutely beautiful as we flew by the snow-capped peak. The roads in Portland are twisted and intertwined, as opposed to being laid out in a perfect grid like some flatter and newer communities. As the plane ascended higher and higher, the details turned into mere texture… the valleys appeared more like divots and the hills seemed more like little bumps. As I watched everything get smaller, I saw the incredible beauty of the whole picture. This is my Oregon – the place I get to live and love, and the battlefield on which I get to fight through all I’ve been through. It suddenly dawned on me that this is an interesting analogy of life’s journey. In the day to day moments of challenge and pain, we can only see the stretch of road that is immediately in front of us. The valleys seem like deep ravines that take immense effort to crawl out of, and the hills seem like they take forever to climb. While there are pretty things around us when we look for them, we don’t see the whole picture for what it is… a complex masterpiece of winding roads and beautiful landscape. If only we could rise above the hard stuff, we’d see it fade into mere texture as it gets further and further in the distance.
Changes in life are difficult to navigate sometimes. It feels confusing and often exhausting to process all the little ups and downs. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that God never leaves me in the dark crevices of trauma. Instead, I feel like He’s been there when I’ve been most desperate – willing to sit with me quietly in the cool black sadness, until I’m ready to move towards the light again. And somehow, I’ve actually felt more spiritually grounded amidst all the chaos. My choice lies in whether I will respond to the love around me – the love that has lifted and held me through the stormiest days and the darkest nights.
As the airplane lifted through the cloud cover, I looked at the white, misty veil that covered the entire landscape with a layer of soft comfort. As soon as we were above those clouds, the bumps and divots of the terrain were concealed by a blanket of white. I remembered back to a morning this August, when I was battling through severe physical anxiety symptoms after my last surgery. As my heart was racing and I couldn’t calm it down enough to drive to work, I texted my dear friend MacKenzie, and asked her to pray for me. I’ll never forget her words.
“God, like a weighted blanket I just pray that you would put the weight
of your peace over Amy’s whole body today.”
And it struck me that the cloud cover is kind of like that weighted blanket, filling all the low points with grace and soothing. God’s love covers the whole journey – the whole picture – including the mountains and valleys, rivers and roads. It’s not that the challenges aren’t still there – but I am covered. I can rest in that safety, and it keeps me moving through the hard things, even when all I can see is the next roadblock that I’ve got to get through.
Success in this life comes from truly loving the work it takes to build the road to where you’re going. It comes from being thankful for the challenges, because of the relationships and lessons that the challenges bring.
It comes from finding satisfaction in the growing.
From finding rhythm in the doing.
Finding comfort in the loving.
And finding purpose in the giving.
These are the mountain peaks in life, and they are well worth trudging through the deserts and swamps to get there. This is how we find peace-- Traveling through the world, covered in a weighted blanket of grace.
My name is Amy but friends and family call me Am. I am a lover of dogs, good whiskey, and strength training. I'm a brain surgery survivor (x31), a fiddle player, a construction designer, and a boxing enthusiast. I have six real siblings, and five fake brothers. I love deeply, and consider my close friends to be family.