(This post is adapted from a piece I wrote originally in 2011.)
What is it about mountains that makes my soul feel peace?
My husband and I took a short vacation to Colorado to celebrate our one-year anniversary last year. We were both exhausted, worn, and in need of fresh air.
Our second day there, I realized that I was still struggling with a very deep-set fear of being un-beautiful. This is a fear that I have fought time and time again since my freshman year of high school; I fought it today. Usually fear wins. It is hard for me to even admit this because I am a strong feminist in many ways–women are not defined by their outward appearance but by their intelligence, character and motivations; women should be independent and not care about what others think of them; women are valuable because of their contributions to the world and not because they ‘adorn’ the world like so many ornaments on a Christmas tree.
But I do. And I know that no matter how much I desire to be transformed into who Jesus wants me to be, such a desire will be hindered by my losing battle with the fear of being physically unacceptable.
The mountains draw this fear out of me and make me confront it.
Our third day in Denver, we were driving with a dear friend up into the mountains and a song came on the radio. I’m not one to listen to Christian radio (that’s another post for another time), but Jesus dedicated a song to me and I couldn’t resist. The song is called “Beautiful Things” (you can listen to my favorite rendition here: Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” Relevant Live Version).
Much later that same day, I went on a walk by myself. The path I was following was paved with sand and fine gravel–bits of dust, really. As I alternately looked down at the ground to watch my feet and again up to the mountains out in the west, I realized that those beautiful mountains–those strong, calming, unexpected, stormy and lofty towers–are made of sand, fine gravel and bits of dust.
The ugly and unnecessary had been swallowed up into relentless Beauty.
And those mountains? They would not look the same if their sand, gravel and bits of dust were anything other than what they are.
They are essential though unassuming parts that build and create the beautiful mountain whole.
These days, my fear of being physically unacceptable begins to shrink as I remember going up to the mountain and touching its porcelain, moldable skin. I know (and am beginning to internalize): the way I look does not matter.
What matters is: I am a bit of dust–always have been and always will be. And I am a part of something much more grand, much more beautiful than any single bit of dust ever will be because I cling to the mountain and lean into its strong, ancient grandeur.
And you? You are a bit of dust, too. Will you come to rest on the mountain?