I’ve got a confession to make:
I’m on vacation right now.
There’s something so majestic about being in the mountains. Especially in Utah. The sky is just crystal clear and bright blue. The air is crisp and clean, and pierces the back of your throat when you inhale, reminding you that you’re alive. And nature is at its most brilliant: the towering pines and spindly birch trees all playing in the pillows of pure, white snow. And seeing such magnificence, and experiencing it with all your senses, it really puts a lot of things into perspective. I feel incredibly small, amidst the power and glory of nature. And it makes me contemplate that the One who made these mountains, also made me. And how, if He put so much detail and beauty into, literally, rocks, how much more beauty did He put in me?
But given all that, I can definitely see where the term “mountain top experience” comes from. Feeling, literally, on top of the world, overcome with a total-sensory experience of “I can do anything – this is amazing.”
And that got me thinking about recovery, and really…life in general.
There’s a reason why there’s a term “mountain top experience.” It’s because the majority of life, isn’t like that. Not everyday is some amazing, nearly-out-of-body experience of awe and wonder. And that is especially true for recovery.
Will there be days where we feel we’re on top of the world, able to see for miles, and able to conquer anything and everything? Yes. But there will also be just as many days where we will feel like we’re at the base of that mountain, craning our necks, looking up at a seemingly insurmountable summit. That’s the cold, hard, truth.
And isn’t that true in life too? We can have days where everything is incredible – we’re excelling in our job, getting good grades, making the team, your kids are happy and healthy, and then BAM you’ll find yourself in a dry season of life – maybe a loved one got a bad diagnosis, you lost your job, got cut from the team, are in a relationship that has suddenly turned rocky. We’re at the base of the mountain.
And doesn’t social media just feed that high/low mentality? It skews our perceptions on things: We look at people’s profiles, and compare our reality with their highlight reel – aka, what they post on FB/IG. Recovery can come off as pints of Ben & Jerry’s, followed by a double cheese pizza, with a sleeve of Oreos for dessert. And all the while with a big smile on your face.
And although, yes there are exciting moments like that, it’s not as glamorous as it’s often perceived. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, Wow, look at how awesome her recovery or her life is. She’s smiling and enjoying all these amazing things, while I’m over here struggling and in fear. Sure, if I were that happy, recovery would be going amazing too.
Or we see friends getting engaged, buying a house, starting a family, posting “perfect” photos of Pinterest-worthy vacations. It’s hard not to compare.
Recovery is not about comparison. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post. So let’s table that for now.
But here’s the long and the short of it: Recovery is not about emotion.
And I’m saying recovery, but substitute anything in for it, really: love, faith, life, courage — all these things are not about emotion.
Emotion is so flighty. We wake up in the morning, happy, motivated, feeling great – and then by lunch time, something’s happened – maybe we got a bad grade on a test, were on the receiving end of a hurtful or pointed remark, the cat peed on our laundry – whatever it is, we now feel crappy. Back away from the human. Beware of temper.
But eventually, that feeling can fade. Even to those with the best intentions.
So if we base our recovery, or our faith, or love for self or another person off how we feel – our emotions — we’re eventually going to find ourselves in the emotional desert.
A recovery wasteland. Standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up.
Maybe we should be asking if there’s another way to go about it.
Here’s my proposal.
What if, instead of basing recovery (or love, faith, etc.) off a feeling, we instead base it off of a commitment?
In other words: recovery is a choice.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Offer your bodies.
Note that this does not go on to say, “if you feel like it.”
As a living sacrifice.
Sacrifice. That word is not all lovey dovey. It implies that it’s work. You choose to do it even when you don’t want to – or rather, especially when you don’t want to.
Your physical body –healthy and whole– is what you bring to the Father. An offering of worship to the One who gave it all, freely. Regardless of how He felt about it.
Recovery is a choice. A commitment. That – whether I’m standing at the top of the mountain, overwhelmed with the feeling of power and strength; or at the base of the mountain, feeling weak and inferior, unable to go on – I will go on. Because I have made a commitment. That I have chosen to take care of myself – as it is my act of worship.