I’ve hiked for many miles through the mountains of grief, pain, forgiveness and letting go. Sometimes I stumbled upon thorns and pricked myself. I got off the ground and continued. Oftentimes I heard the people who were far behind me telling me to stop, but only I could see the journey beyond me. Only I was gifted with the sight of what it means to live a much healthier life emotionally. It wasn’t always easy. People see me today, at the end of my journey of depression and anxiety and wonder how I arrived here. What they haven’t seen are the ten thousand rocky steps and sprained ankles which brought me exactly to where I am today. I’m grateful, not just for what I’ve gained back in return, but for the thousands of times when I had the opportunity to turn my back on myself and instead chose to continue onward, following the call of my heart and the guidance gifted to me by God.

I truly believe that at any point in time, we have two choices: When we stop for rest, we can choose to either marvel at the towering trees above our heads, the little streams of water all flowing in a single direction, reminding us of our purpose and journey here and the sunlight which never fails to shine its face on us, no matter how dark we may feel on the inside.

Or,

We can become so focused on the destination, that the hike feels like pure blood, sweat and tears, only to arrive at the very end with a sense of defeat and exhaustion. More often than not, the very journey itself presents us with all the life lessons and beautiful gems of wisdom which we so deeply desire. Along the way we recognize the many trees which home us, the leaves which shielded our feet and shaded us and how following the trail of one’s heart always leads us to where we need to go. We arrive at the end as we are, only because of how the journey has shaped us along the way.

The peak is always one of wonder. I recently saw an image of the view from a mountaintop in Iceland and I was in awe of its sheer magnificence. There is so much beauty around us and when we change our perspective, we come to see things differently. From the mountain top, we realize how small our fears were. This very image also reminded me of all the hard work which healing takes – the hard work of forgiveness of those who have hurt us; the hard work of sticking to small daily promises every single day, even when you don’t feel like it; and the hard work of challenging oneself to get out of bed on our darkest and most difficult days.

Today, many people ask me about how I can live in such a pure state of gratitude even during moments of pain. They haven’t seen the hard work and they don’t know how many times I gave up, in order to arrive here today. That is why my gratitude today includes gratefulness for both the moments of joy and during moments of sadness too. I know that if I climb just a bit higher, my perspective will change and I will reach a new peak. I’ve witnessed this happen in my own life before and so I believe that it is true for you too.

I know that right now, many of us are putting in the hard work which nobody may even see. We’re fighting unspeakable inner battles each and every day. I want you to remember to stop for just a second and marvel at the landscapes of change around you. There is beauty, even when we don’t feel it and cannot see it.

We have to put in the hard work in order to help ourselves and reach our own greatest peaks.

-Matana


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