Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mountains and Molehills



I spent last weekend lunching and shopping in Mount Dora, a small town just outside of Orlando. 

The name is a little misleading because there’s not really a mountain there. 

The mount is more like a hill. Or a gently rolling slope. I grew up in Pittsburgh, where there are a lot of hills. Steep ones. And very few of them are called mountains. 

My aunt Charlotte lived in a house perched at the top of one hill and the bottom of another. Driving to her house was an adventure, full of curves and hairpin turns. 

Near her house was a hill so steep it gave me the strangest sensation that the car could tip right over backwards. I still have nightmares about that hill. 

So I really like Florida. It’s flat, the streets are straight and there aren’t many hills. Unless you want to count Mount Dora.


I often wish I were someone who takes things in stride calmly and steadily. Someone who has an easygoing demeanor. Who doesn't get excited about incidental, inconsequential and inconsiderable things. 

But instead I tend to make mountains out of molehills. 

I know I have a tendency to exaggerate the importance of all things trivial. 

When I talk about these paltry happenings that seem so significant and important to me, my friends stare politely, waiting for more. 

I imagine they’re expecting me to end my story with, “AND he asked me to marry him! Isn’t that remarkable?” 

And it certainly would be. But the chances of having such a monumental ending to what I’m relating could not possibly live up to that standard of amazement.

St. Genevieve sits at the top of a hill in Paris.
When I ran into a man I kind of liked and his date in a restaurant, I thought it was so amazing that I had to immediately call a friend to go over every spellbinding detail. 

She was putting her kids to bed and politely listened to me. But as I continued to talk, I realized the details were riveting only to me. 

I felt deflated since I knew I was interrupting her and I wondered what on earth possessed me to think this was so enthralling. 

So I thought about changing my ways when I ran into another old friend. I resisted my usual urge to text, call or email immediately. 

As time wore on, I become rather unexcited about it. I downplayed the details. 

After all, it wasn’t really that compelling. A hello exchanged. Some small talk. 

Finally, I emailed a friend who I thought might be interested. She didn’t answer for several days. 

Which supported my suspicion that it really wasn’t worth sharing.

Steep street in Paris leading to the Pantheon.
But I like to wonder what these seemingly insignificant interactions mean. 

I kind of enjoy pondering how these incidences fit into the puzzle of my life. 

I imagine that maybe they’re sent from God as a personal message just for me via an unsuspecting participant in his plans. 

Like the compliment from a stranger who says she likes my hairstyle. 

The surprising email from a nearly forgotten grade-school chum who said she’d been hoping to reconnect with me. 

The postcard from an acquaintance I met just once who wrote that she thought of me and was praying for me. 

If I consider these daily happenings as nothing at all, then I think some of the joy, the surprise, the marvel, and the wonder of it all will be missing from my life. 

And I don’t want to lose that. 

So I’ll continue to contemplate my mini-dramas and reflect on the minor productions in my life. 

They may turn out to be just hills or slopes or bumps in the road of my life. 

But maybe some of the molehills will turn out to be mountains that I can clamber up. And who knows, maybe when I get to the top, I’ll find that the view was much more than I imagined. 

The expanded perspective may show me that what I thought was nothing might be something after all. 

Because who wants their life to be filled with meaningless molehills? 

Not when I can view the surrounding panorama while I'm looking for the noteworthy, extraordinary and exceptional happenings that make up my very ordinary days.

The view from the Eiffel Tower of Montmartre in Paris.

8 comments:

  1. Valerie, this may very well be my most favorite post by you thus far. I can relate INCREDIBLY to what you are saying. I also tend to get overly-excited and dramatic about things, and sometimes I think that to some people that is probably - well - just annoying. It's so easy to let others' reactions get the best of us and think we need to change somehow. The little paragraph under your picture describes it perfectly - you look for God in the ordinary activities of everyday life. The truth is that God works in the little things just as he does in the bigger things. I believe He rejoices when he sees His children get excited over something that may appear small and trivial - especially when we look for HIM in that moment and give HIM the glory. You are salt and light - and your strong faith makes you so unique in today's world. :)
    - Shawna

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    1. Shawna,
      I can't tell you how much your comment encourages me! LOVE what you said about God working in the little things in our lives too just as he does in the big things. I think it's up to us to see him in these things! I often wrestle with what I'm writing and wonder if I should share it -- thank you so much, sweet sister, for encouraging me tonight!
      Valerie

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    2. Awww, well I am so happy that I encouraged you! I agree wholeheartedly - it is up to us to look for God and see Him in all things. It makes life so much more interesting and fun to do that anyway, doesn't it? This past Saturday night it was late and dark, and I went outside to walk my dog. I looked up at the stars and started praying about something very specific. In the middle of that prayer, I saw a shooting star!! I've maybe only seen 2 or 3 in my life. I have no doubt that God was speaking to me in that moment, telling me that He was taking care of it. I know he speaks to us - through these special moments and by bringing certain people into our lives. We just have to believe it, and then be watching and listening.
      Shawna

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    3. A shooting star - how lovely! I love it when God sends a message just for us at the very time we need it. But could we expect any less of the God of the universe who knows our every thought and knows our heart? Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts -- your comments are beautiful!

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  2. Well now you can officially say you have "climbed" Mount Dora! Stunning photo at the end!

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    1. Brittany,
      Yes -- I hadn't thought of that -- I'm loving the idea of adding mountain climbing to my resume! :) And thanks for the compliment about the photo -- it was quite a spectacular view!

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  3. Super great article! I love the picture of Mount Dora - makes me feel like I can just go shopping in all the shops. All your pictures are good - as are your words. It's finding God in the trivial things of life that make us appreciate the bigger picture He has planned for us. Dont ever stop writing.....or taking pictures!!

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    1. Sharon,
      The bigger picture God has planned for us -- I love that -- all the little snapshots make up the much bigger picture of our lives!

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