The Climb Up and The Climb Down
I decided to wrap up 2021 in Bogota on a solo trip to close out the year. One of the must-do attractions in Bogota is the sacred Monserrate Mountain, where a beautiful and active cathedral resides at the peak. While today the Monserrate is a tourist attraction, it is also still predominantly a religious and sacred place, with many people visiting said cathedral to offer their prayers to El Señor Caído (the Fallen Lord). It’s over 10,000 feet above sea level, offering incredible panoramic views of Bogota.
I wanted to climb up the mountain. And thanks to language barriers, my kind driver/quasi tour guide led me to the ticket office to buy a ticket to take the cable car up the mountain. I surrendered, assuming it was meant to be that I didn’t climb up but instead, get transported up in 5 minutes.
Alas, I started at the top, in awe at the views, the peace, God’s creation. I walked the cobblestone areas around the cathedral. I went in the sanctuary and prayed some big prayers. And as I wondered around this scenic, abounding area I found myself on a trail. I kept walking, thinking perhaps there was another site to see or something interesting to read. As I walked down these wide and deep cobblestone steps, I watched as people were climbing up, completely and utterly exhausted. They literally couldn’t breathe and the sweat was pouring off of their faces. Many of them had stopped with their bodies keeled over with looks of disgust as they still had more to climb.
I kept climbing down, one step at a time, and as I walked and concentrated VERY hard on not slipping and falling, it occurred to me: 2021 was the mountain. I already climbed the mountain and God brought me directly to the top of Monserrate to see this. I didn’t need to climb up that day in Bogota; I had already climbed it over the last 365 days.
The blood, sweat and tears of 2021 has come to a close and I climbed it. I fought it. I cried on my way up. I got injured emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t give up. I was persistent and driven and nothing was going to stop the climb.
I was married.
I got divorced.
I grew my team and my business by nearly 3x.
I navigated the unchartered, emotional waters of single parenthood.
I started a new life, one that I did not plan for.
I bought my house.
I launched a digital course.
I grew my family by way of a puppy named Teddy.
I hit dozens of personal records in the fitness category.
I had hundreds of conversations with God, many that included tears, curse words, questions and pain.
I launched a pillow line.
I took a solo trip to NYC.
I hired and met with my life coach weekly for months.
I woke up almost every day before the sun rise to go before God.
I opened my heart to another person.
I received the call that my dad had stage 4 cancer.
I receive the call that one of my closet friends had breast cancer.
I received the call that one of my closest friends mother had died of cancer.
I had dozens of therapy sessions.
I had dozens of life coach sessions.
I healed in many, many ways.
I climbed the mountain.
I faced my fears. I cried the tears. I peeled back layers of myself that left me raw, but also left me more aware, more awakened to my authentic self. And I kept climbing.
I had many days I wanted to give up, even though I was only halfway up the mountain. But, I didn’t. I simply rested and took the time I needed to have the mental and physical strength to keep going. And that’s what I did – I kept climbing.
I prayed again.
I begged God.
I begged Him again.
He held me close, He reminded me that I was loved and He healed parts of me I didn’t even know needed healing.
I saw glimpses of the beauty amidst the ashes, reminding me to keep going, that the peak awaits. That God wasn’t done. In fact, He was just getting started.
I kept climbing.
I remember in January of 2018 I prayed a prayer (it was more like an aggressive command if I’m being honest but that’s what’s great about God – we can be our angry/raw/scared/sad selves with Him) that went like this: God, I will not have another year like 2017. A year of the deepest pain. I will not. So, while the pain is still there – and because we live in a broken world, there will always be pain in some capacity – teach me to live with joy amidst the pain. And in that exact moment, I had goosebumps that covered my body and the weight of the pain was lifted.
God has equipped me to live with joy amidst the pain ever since, 2021 included. And while this year was tremendously hard and often left me feeling lonely and filled with grief, it caused me to become a version of myself I wouldn’t have otherwise.
A stronger version.
A braver version.
A healed version.
A loving version.
A wiser version.
A more authentic version.
A more empathic version.
A more beautiful version.
It took me about 30 minutes to climb down Monserrate. The climb up is 3-5 times that at least. Perhaps even more depending on your physical condition. I had blisters on my feet and my legs were jello by the end. In fact, muscles that I hadn’t activated were sore, just from walking down the mountain. As I walked down, I prayed for the people climbing up.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe you are climbing up the mountain. Here’s what I have to say to you:
It’s hard but it is worth it.
You will be stretched emotionally, physically, spiritually.
You will bleed. You may cry. You will sweat.
You will want to give up.
You will have blisters and your muscles will ache.
You will be frustrated.
You will want to curse.
You will be very tired.
You will ask God WHY?
But friend, the mountaintop awaits. The breathtaking views are worth it. What God will show you, the whispers He will give you along the way…you won’t want to miss those moments. You won't want to miss the growth. Trust me.
And then you will slowly and steadily and intentionally climb down the mountain.
Nobody talks about the climb down. But inevitably, it has to happen. For me, it was so clear to me that God was saying, “Ann, you did it. We did it. We reached the top, you were faithful, you didn’t give up, you were obedient. You were uncomfortable and scared and I know it was hard. You secured the healthy resources you needed, knowing you couldn’t do this on your own. And I was with you every step of the way. Just like I was with you every step of the way down. Now, let’s pause and celebrate because the bottom of the mountain is just as significant as the top. Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.”
The year is ending, the mountain was fiercely climbed up and gently walked down and now, a new chapter awaits. I will be fully immersed in the healthy habits 2021 taught me. I will be training again for the next mountain, recognizing pain and joy will forever co-exist and 2021 was certainly not my last mountain. I will keep moving forward, in faith, knowing God has something incredible here at the base of this mountain – and at the top.
Over the last few weeks, I have gone to God with crazy faith, praying bold prayers and I’m ready for His response. I’m preparing and I’m believing that my best year is ahead and so is yours.
The mountain peak awaits.
The mountain base awaits.
Both necessary, both worth it.
Both hard, both peaceful, both extremely significant.
I’m ready for the next mountain.
2022, thanks in advance for what you will teach me. Thanks in advance for the love you will show and give me. Thanks in advance for the pain, the joy, the significance and the strength. Thanks for challenges and blessings and everything in between.
Jesus, let’s do this. Let’s begin again. At the base, at the peak and amidst all the blood, sweat and tears in between. I'm ready.