The summer after my freshman year of college I drove from Atlanta to Aspen with a friend of mine. I had never driven cross-country, and have not since, so this is my lone example of the “epic” road trip. Although a good trip, it was not all that epic- no great stories of mishap or tomfoolery. We were on a tight time schedule so there was no sightseeing. There are only two things I remember about the drive: the St. Louis Arch and Kansas.
If you have ever driven east to west across Kansas, you know that there isn’t much to see. Literally. Sitting in the car with the Kansas heat beating through the windows, I was amazed anything could be that flat. I was in awe of how blank the horizon was to my left and right and how the scenery seemed to never change. There wasn’t a hill, a tree, or a shrub for miles. One mile felt like ten.
If you have ever driven east to west across Kansas, you also know that as you approach the state’s western border you see the Rocky Mountains. It is as if they appear from nowhere. Beautiful. Magnificent. Imposing. After hours and hours and miles and miles of barren terrain, you feel energized and motivated to keep going. Those majestic mountains seem to beckon you onward- “You can do this! You made it!” You made it through the desolate flatness.
What you do not realize, though, is that while you are traveling across that seemingly flat landscape you actually are climbing in elevation. When you finally see those grand Rocky Mountains you are several thousand feet higher than when you started your journey. The flatness is deceptive. The barrenness is misleading. Hour by hour, mile by mile you are not just moving forward, but you are moving upward. You are moving out of the desolation and closer to the mountaintop.
The difficult seasons of our lives can be a lot like Kansas. It’s the same ole, some ole. You don’t seem to be making any progress. Nothing is changing except the days of the week and the months of the year. You keep applying for jobs. You keep showing up to a job you hate. You keep going to doctors who have no answers. You keep searching for love and coming up short. You keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping to see some ounce of progress, some evidence that you are closer to the end of this difficult season. It doesn’t feel like anything is changing, and you wonder how much longer.
And then one day, almost as if from nowhere, something changes. Things are different. You get the job. You find out about a new career opportunity. You meet with a doctor that has a new approach. You realize you are lovable and find love in the process. You catch a glimpse of the mountaintop, and you know you’ve made it. You know it may not be smooth sailing from here- there is still more traveling to do- but the barrenness and desolation are behind you. You feel hopeful. You can see the other side.
Sometimes change in our lives is imperceptible to the human heart, yet we are still growing, still healing. Step by step we get to the other side. Sometimes life is a lot like driving across Kansas. Have you ever had a Kansas experience? What did it feel like when you saw your Rockies?
You’re almost there!