I often wish I could live my whole life on the mountaintop. It’s where happiness if found, right? Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend I’m standing on the highest peak. I inhale, allowing the fresh air to fill my lungs. I imagine watching puffy clouds effortlessly drift across the bright blue sky. I’m captivated by the greens, reds, blues, and browns that speckle the valley floor. The rolling hills, deep valleys, lush pastures, and raging waters are mesmerizing. It’s all spectacular from a distance. Who wouldn’t want the “mountaintop experience” forever? Then I look at my feet. I’m standing on rock. Hard, lifeless rock. While the view from the top is stunning, I remember the beauty isn’t at the top. The immense beauty is in the valley below.

There’s very little growth on the top of a mountain. While the mountaintop experience can be wonderful for a little while, real life, real growth, and real experiences don’t happen at the top. Everything “real” happens in the valley.

But the valley is scary. There’s limited vision in the valley. I can’t see the big picture. The unknown is uncomfortable. I often allow fear to rule my thoughts and actions. Sometimes my view is so limited, I can’t even see past the next grove of trees or the rushing river looming in the distance.

What if I actually stopped right in the middle of the mess and admired the forest’s majesty or stood in awe of the roaring rapids? Would I see beauty? What about that small, fragile flower bravely peeking through the fertile soil? Would I see how it struggles though the muck to become glorious? I definitely can’t see that from the top of a mountain.

I know the valley is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I can’t live out the fruits of the spirit on the mountaintop. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control only grow when I experience trials, pain, and challenges.

“In the valley where your heart was broken will be the place of your greatest harvest.” – Carol McLeod, Just Joy Ministries

I can bear fruit even in the worst moments of my life. Sometimes this is hard to believe, especially in the middle of a mess. But, God’s blessings are in the valley. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God is in the business of feeding and healing souls. That gives me peace even as I continue living into my challenges. With each brave step I take, I’m telling fear it has no place in my life.

Are you living in the valley right now? You’re not alone. Don’t be scared or discouraged. There’s beauty right in front of you. Right there! Right next to that hard thing. Don’t forget to look for it!