I live with an incredible view of Mt. Rainier right outside my home. In fact, as I sit here right now, the snow capped peaks of that majestic mount are visible. With our beautiful weather over the past week, the mountain has been projecting its glory everyday for me to wonder at. And it got me to reflecting on mountains.
There have been innumerable books and speeches written using mountains as an analogy. How large and overwhelming they can appear. How it is so difficult at times to summit. How it seems that every step we take leads us no closer to the peak.
But we also read and hear about how important it is to look back as you are winding your way up that steep climb. How essential it is to see where you've come from...that point where you starting this sometimes treacherous climb. And that's where I was last week. Not anything dramatically new for me. But I believe it was God's way of reassuring me that I've come a long way on this trek I started over four years ago when I was sent to prison. He was whispering in my ear not to be discouraged...not to focus on finding the summit because He will lead me there. He wanted me to see how far I've come, and He lifted my spirits through His gentle reminder.
And yesterday, He gave me a new lesson of the mountain. He reminded me that the same mountain can look different depending on which side you are climbing. For the past four years, I have been working on "me" and "my" mountain. Believe me, that mountain is huge! Mt. Rainier is probably a mole hill compared to the size of the mountain I feel like I'm trying to scale.
My older brother called me yesterday and asked if I'd like to go up to Sunrise with him. We could stop and have a lunch and then go up to that side of the mountain. I'd never been there before, and with the overcast morning we had, I wasn't sure we would see anything, but I said "yes" nevertheless.
Frank and I have had a strained relationship, to say the least, for the past seven years. Eight years ago, I would have described him as my best and closest friend. Paula and I would spend our summer vacation time together with Frank and his wife Deb. Frank and I would probably be described as inseparable during those summer weeks. Each New Year, we would drive over the pass to celebrate the coming new year at Frank's place. But then both of our lives changes.
I buried myself into Internet pornography and didn't spend much time focusing on what was going on around me. Frank found himself lost in his marriage...feeling hopeless. Neither of us shared what was going on with each other. I really can't say why...one would think that best friends would share problems with each other, but we didn't. For me, I know now it was my pridefulness. I didn't want to share with anyone my weaknesses...not my wife...not my best friend. I'm sure Frank had his own reasons. So, when Frank told me that he was leaving his wife of 28 years, I was shocked and hurt. Betrayed would probably be the best word to describe my feelings. The fact that there was another woman involved made it all the worst. I just couldn't understand what had happened to this apparently Godly man whom I loved and respected. I couldn't understand how he could suddenly say he had never loved his wife. I couldn't understand his side of the mountain.
But yesterday, as we drove and talked, God opened my mind and my heart. For the first time since Frank left his wife, I was hearing Frank's story from a different perspective. It didn't make what he did all right. Sin has no excuse! But I heard a man who was truly sorry for the pain he had caused many people...his ex-wife...his kids...even me. I heard him talk about how he has loved and worshipped God for as long as he can remember, even when he left his wife and not really understanding how he could be blind to God's power for healing and reconciliation and his feeling of hopelessness at that point in his life. I was able to understand how he felt that he did the only thing that he felt he could do and survive...emotionally and physically.
As we drove and talked, I did something that I never really did when he was my "best friend". I challenged his thinking in some areas. I didn't agree with everything he said. I shared my views and perspectives...and my feelings. I didn't let him do all the talking or agree with everything he said. And it was OK. He was accepting my point of view and admitting his mistakes at the time. He was showing true remorse and I was being the kind of friend I should have been seven years ago.
When I got out of prison almost a year ago, I didn't think it was possible to reconcile the relationship with my brother. I believed it was too fractured, that the schism was much too deep to get across. I believed that mountain was too large to ever overcome. We had drifted a long distance apart...actually I had pushed him as far away from me as I could. But like the mountain, God is so incredibly big that there is no relationship that He can't heal and mend. No challenge that He can't help me to overcome! No bondage in my life that He can't break!
Frank loves the view of Mt. Rainier from Sunrise. He told me he thinks it's the most beautiful view of this majestic mountain peak. I love the view from my front door. In my mind's eye, I think it's the more magnificent view. The reality is, we are both right. And with God's grace and mercy in our lives, no matter which side of the mountain we are looking at and trying to scale, the summit is in sight.