Investors And Vampires

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to talk about how great my father was. (His birthday was Sunday, so this is actually pretty fitting.)

My father was one of the most magnificent people and one of my favorite people ever. He was funny, charismatic, smart, honest, and loving. He listened to blues and bluegrass. His television heroes were Al Bundy, Fred Sanford, and Archy Bunker. He enjoyed action movies He fought in the Vietnam War. He hitchhiked across America. He had a fondness for McDonald’s gravy biscuits, Wendy’s burgers, and Taco Bell. He wore bandanas and played the harmonica. His favorite color was purple. He always said these weird little proverbs (“Wet birds don’t fly at night unless they work at Chathams on the midnight shift”). He loved singing slow songs. He was the best pool player around. He could blow smoke rings. He read his children The Hobbit. He held conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses instead of running them off. Although he never said it, I think his favorite book of the Bible was Isaiah. And he always wanted to hear a sermon on “Jesus wept.”

But if you knew my dad at all, you knew two things about him: he loved God, and he loved his family.

My dad’s love for my mom was genuine. He always said that she could never leave him because he’d just go with her – pack a suitcase up and walk out right behind her. And in his last days, when the cancer that had spread through most of his body left him quiet and in a lot of pain, he would just look at my mom (whose parents were both completely deaf, so everyone in our family knows a little bit of sign language) and sign the word “more” to her. It was his way of telling her that he loved her more than she loved him. It was his way of letting her know for sure how much he loved her instead of his usual joking ways. Before then, whenever my mom would tell my dad she loved him, he’d say something like, “I’ve heard rumors.” But his last days were much more serious, and he had to know that she knew how much she meant to him.

No one could ever question or doubt how much my dad loved his kids. As far as I’m concerned, my sister, my brother, and I won the parental lottery in regards to both of my parents. I can only tell you with certainty about my experiences with my dad, but you should know that he loved my siblings just as much as he loved me.

When my brother and I were little, we did everything with my dad. He treated us exactly the same. There was no “Carrie, you can’t come,” or “Stop that, Carrie. It’s not ladylike.” He wasn’t concerned with my gender; he was only concerned with spending time with me.

He and my mom always encouraged me to try new things and be myself. I don’t recall a single time that my dad told me I was weird. And he’d talk to me about whatever it was I was interested in – the Duke basketball team, a band, religion, whatever. Although we were usually both interested in it, he would talk to me about it even if he didn’t particularly care for it. (Please note that my dad was the one who suggested the name “Othello” for our dog because the dog is solid black and because I love Shakespeare.)

My dad always told me and other people how successful I’d be, how smart I was, how proud he was of me. We had a plan that after I got rich, I would buy him a hurricane-proof hut in Tahiti. I’ll never forget what one of his co-workers told me at his wake. The gentleman passed through the line of family members, giving us each his condolences. He was watching the picture slideshow when he turned around to me and my sister and asked which of us was in college. I told him I was. He looked me in the eyes and said with nothing but sincerity, “Your dad was real proud of you.”

My dad was always there for me. If I needed advice, money, a good laugh, or anything at all, he gave it to me. He invested in me. He invested in everyone.

Those are the people we all need in our lives.

Those are the people we need, but they’re not always the ones we have around us.

A lot of times we find ourselves around people who just take the life out of us, and sometimes they take more than we can really afford to give. What’s crazy is they can do it without even realizing it or meaning to do it.

Strange, isn’t it? Almost a little shocking even. After all, we’re so aware of how miserable they’re making us, how can they not notice? And oh, they do it so well! How can they live their lives being unaware of how they’re ruining ours?

Excuse me, dear, but I’d like to remind you that you are someone’s vampire.

And I’m sure you don’t mean to be a spiritual vampire. Really, who does? Yet here you are, sucking the life out of someone, and chances are that you’re not even thinking about it.

“Carrie, people suck.”

Yes, they do. And some more so than others. Some people are constantly lurking with their fangs out.

“That’s okay. I’ll just rely on myself. Yep. Just keep it to myself. I can handle it.”

I wouldn’t say that.

“Well, if I can’t rely on others, I’ll just confide in myself.”

Before you do that, don’t forget that you can be your own spiritual vampire.

If I had a dime for every time I brought myself down, I’d be posting this blog from a luxurious apartment in a big city and not my mom’s house in Small Town, USA. I psyche myself out. I beat myself up. I criticize myself. Honestly, at times I’m the biggest vampire in my life, and let me tell you, it’s not a party. I can’t escape myself, and you won’t be able to escape yourself either.

“What’s so bad about that? I like myself.”

And rightfully so. You’re lovely. Maybe you enjoy being alone. However there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. We might not mind some time to ourselves, but we do mind not having anyone there when we wish we did. Loneliness leads to bitterness, and bitterness doesn’t typically lead to a happy heart. By shutting everyone out, you’re taking on life alone. Life wasn’t designed to be handled that way.

That’s why God created Eve. Take the love interest aspect out of it for a second. At the root of it all, God gave Adam someone to vent to, to help him, to share in his struggle. He gave him someone so he wouldn’t be lonely.

If Adam couldn’t do it all by himself in paradise, what makes us think we could do it by ourselves in the world we live in?

Don’t rely on yourself. At least not solely or even first and foremost. Above all, rely on God. He’s the only thing worth relying on. He’s consistent, and He only ever has your best interests at heart. Every time you’re offended, every time you’re bummed or depressed or furious, God’s right there waiting. He’s waiting for you to turn to Him so He can listen, advise, console, or fix it. God is incredibly patient, but why would you want to keep Him waiting?

Also, it’s okay to look to people as a sort of secondary source. Vampires exist, but so do investors. Not everyone is blessed enough to be Charles Prevette’s kid like I am, but many people were blessed enough to be his friend. He was an investor, constantly pouring into people. Admittedly, investors seem to be much harder to find than vampires, but they can be found. Maybe your investor isn’t one of or both of your parents. It could be a sibling or a friend, a co-worker or your pastor. Whoever it is, no matter how many there are, keep them around you. You’re going to need them.

Plus, I’ve found that investors often attract other investors. Sure, investors and vampires can coexist and even thrive together. But frequently, investors befriend each other to put positivity into each other’s lives. So if you’re having trouble finding investors, try being one yourself.

Listen to other people’s problems. Compliment them. Tell them how they’re going to overcome their problems. Do favors for them without expecting anything in return. Basically, be the friend you wish you had.

If you’re not naturally an investor, it may sound hard to do all of that. But I’ll share with you some of my dad’s wisdom. “Things worth having don’t come easy.”

By Carrie Prevette

Living With Limits

One of the great things about writing is being in total control.

You create people. The way they look, their sense of humor, their favorite colors, what kind of company they keep – everything is up to you.

You are in charge of what happens to them. Don’t like someone? You can have them stub their toe, burn their popcorn, or fall off the side of a mountain. If there’s a particular character you love, you can make everyone else fall in love with them too, make them achieve all their dreams, or have the time of their lives.

You can control the plot, the style, the setting, every last bit of it.

I remember talking to my best friend about a story I was struggling with in one of my creative writing classes in college. I was talking about making a character do something, and she said, “That’s so cool! It’s like you’re God.”

It is like playing God because you’re limitless. But in truth, no matter how much we may enjoy playing God, we aren’t actually God.

Shocking, I know. You weren’t the one who spoke the universe you’re living in into existence. You aren’t the beginning and ending of absolutely everything. You don’t actually have control over everything. Neither do I. None of us do. None of us are God.

God has no limits whatsoever, unlike us. “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5, NRSV).  He has the power to do anything and everything.

Maybe you’ve seen that before in your life. You could’ve passed a class that you honestly shouldn’t have. Perhaps there was a time or two when you found more money in your paycheck or bank account than should’ve been there. Maybe you narrowly avoided a car accident. There are so many ways that God can act in our lives that leave us with no explanation other than it being an act of God.

But there’s another side to that. Life’s not always so good. Sometimes you have to take a hard road. And maybe you’ve had to take a hard road more often than not. Loved ones die. People change. Relationships crumble. Opportunities are denied. Goals aren’t reached. Life continuously seems to rub how unfair it really is in our faces. Why would God let that happen?

Let’s go back and visit that scripture again, this time focusing on the last part. “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Yes, life’s unfair; sometimes so much that it legitimately hurts. And yeah, it may seem completely pointless to us a lot of the time, but that doesn’t actually mean that it is pointless. Just because we don’t understand what’s happening in our lives doesn’t mean that God doesn’t understand it or that He’s just letting it happen. As Alan said on Sunday, “I may be struggling more than I’m thriving, but that doesn’t mean God didn’t see it coming.” It’s something only He gets, and He has a purpose for it.

You remember when we were talking about writing a story? Any good writer knows that good things aren’t reserved solely for good characters, and bad things don’t only happen to bad characters. That would be the most boring story. No one would want to read it. It wouldn’t make any bestseller list, and you would never hear anyone say it’s their favorite book. People like stories that evoke emotions. I like a few books that have made me very upset. Why? The writing was good enough to make me feel so strongly about something. Had everything happened “the way it should’ve” or “the way I’d hoped,” that book would’ve been forgettable. That’s not to say that I don’t love some books or stories where I was happy with how it all happened or turned out. It’s just that every story worth its while has to have some good and some bad. Personally, and I know God would agree, I think your story is completely worthwhile. It’s worthy of listening to or reading about. It’s worthy of existing, as are you. It also shows that you’re important enough to God to grow the relationship between you and Him. And I think that’s worth a few bad times.

We have to accept that good people are going to have some horrible things happen to them, and we have to accept that bad people are going to have some incredible things happen to them. (We would probably do well to remember that no one falls entirely into one category and not the other.)

When talking about us not being God, we come to the conclusion that we are very limited. There’s only so much we can do. We can’t help the way other people think or act or believe.

“But Carrie, that would be so rad if we could.”

Stop right there because no, it wouldn’t. First of all, if I could do it to someone else, they could easily do it to me, which I find terrifying. Second, that would result in me always getting my way and the world would be mine, and I think you guys know me well enough by now to see the problems with that.

Now, there are days when I wish I could control people. I would love to make people who are being stupid realize that they’re being stupid. I would love to be able to make everyone see how beautiful they are. Or to make wars stop. Or to make people realize the awful things that they’re doing to each other. There are plenty of times when I would like to control everyone so that the world could live in perfect harmony (or at least my version of harmony).

But that would make me God, and I think we can all agree that it’s a really good thing I’m not God.

People have this little gift called freewill. It’s the reason Eve ate the fruit in the garden, and it’s the reason people make a lot of questionable decisions. It’s also why Christ chose to go to the cross, and it’s why people are capable of making the best decisions of their lives. It goes both ways. And honestly, it hurts God more often than it hurts us, yet we’re the ones who haven’t made our peace with it yet.

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Carrie, I’ve reached my limit. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t think there’s anything else I can do, and I feel miserable.”

Let me tell you what I thought was one of the most encouraging parts of the sermon this past Sunday: It is okay that you’ve reached your limit, and it’s not a bad thing.

A weird statement, I know. I personally don’t like feeling miserable in addition to feeling helpless, so how can that be good?

The reason it’s encouraging is because it comes back to God being limitless. God can reach us where we’re stopped at. It’s like we’re on one side of a gap and our goals are on the other side. Maybe the gap is huge and leaves us wondering why we ever started this journey, how we got here in the first place. Then again, it could be tiny and just taunting us, yet try as we might, we cannot go a bit further.

God is the only way to bridge that gap. He’s the only one with the power to do so. Whether He carries you across or pushes the two sides closer together or acts as an actual bridge, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that it’s not going to happen without God, the only being without parameters.

So place your trust in Him. Keep looking to Him for advice and for help. And remember that He’s not going to let anything happen to you that you can’t deal with because He’ll be with you. And there’s nothing that limits Him. You’re in the most powerful and the most loving hands.

By Carrie Prevette

Boundaries, Family, and Friends

I think it’s safe to say that my brother and I are pretty close. We’re only two years apart in age, so we did basically everything together growing up. We have a lot of things in common, and we still spend a lot of time together. We pick on each other constantly. Both of us know that when worse comes to worse, we’re always going to have each other’s back. I remember a family friend once saying to me about his oldest son and his only daughter, “I see the relationship you and Derek have, and I hope they have a relationship like that one day.”

I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. Most people see the good in our relationship, but they don’t see the unsavory moments. We fight, which isn’t uncommon for siblings, but we fight a lot and over the stupidest things (and I’m not even kidding about that). I know I’ve gone to bed angry at him before, and I’ve gone a day or more without talking to him unless I absolutely had to at times. I feel pretty safe saying the following because I’m sure he feels the same about me: I love the guy, but half the time, he frustrates me so much that I could slap him. (But trust that no one else is allowed to say that about him without having to deal with me.)

I know my brother loves me, but honestly, that kid knows how to get under my skin better than anyone else. He’s spent almost 23 years perfecting his technique and skills in that area. And I don’t think I’m that good at intentionally bugging him, but I’m an expert at making fun of him. Of course, every member of my family can bother me at times, but I don’t think they’re as aware of it or as proud of it as my dear brother is.

Family, oftentimes, is both the best and the worst. Because of that, those relationships are arguably the most fragile.

I think to some extent that we’ve all set up some boundaries within our family before. For example, do your mom and dad know everything, and I mean everything, that you did in high school or college? For most, the answer is probably no, and if you’re like me, you’d probably like to keep it that way.

Boundaries are made to keep out bad vibes, whether they originate in you or other people.

Like that friend you don’t want to talk to about your problems because instead of you venting about your problems, it quickly becomes all about them. You love them, you really do, but there’s only so many times you can be one-upped without going off on someone, right? It doesn’t make you very happy, and if you let them know you’re angry about it, they probably aren’t going to enjoy your critique of their character.

Or that person that you really want to open up to, but you know that they’ll just worry about you. You tell them one little thing and they’re asking all of these other questions before you can take your next breath. Their voice changes with their tone. Their whole countenance changes. You just wanted to tell them something, whether it was to let them in or to get advice. Now you feel awful because you seem to have added so much stress to their life. Nobody wins.

And there’s that person that it feels like it is their mission just to upset you. Call it natural talent or hard work put into practice, but no matter what the topic is or even whether or not you ask them, they say something that bothers you. Sometimes it’s no big deal, and sometimes it upsets you to your core. Regardless, when their around, you’re pretty sure that you’re not going to have a great time.

Please know that I’m not telling you to stop loving them. That’s not what I’m saying at all. From what I can tell, spiritual vampires are the ones who need love the most. Not just our love, but Christ’s love, an unconditional love that’s already proven itself. And we may be the only way that love is demonstrated.

I know that sounds like a lot of pressure. And I know that the idea of boundaries seems to contrast that plan and purpose. But without boundaries, feelings get hurt, bitterness sets in, and hearts are hardened. If I let you into an area of my life that you really shouldn’t be in, it’ll be very easy for what we have going on to turn sour. Then I’m going to resent you and maybe even hate you. It’s going to be hard to reach me for any reason or in any way at that point.

“But Carrie, if I love someone, I have to love all of them. What they do, who they are. I mean, isn’t that what Jesus does?”

No. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to love everything about them or everything that they do. While Jesus loves and accepts us for exactly who we are, that doesn’t mean He approves of our actions. Jesus loves every man on death row, but that I’m sure He doesn’t approve of the actions that landed them there.

As Alan spoke Sunday, I had a realization that one of my favorite things about Jesus is that He always kept it real. He always said what He meant, and He told everyone exactly like it was. Look at Luke 18:18-27. The rich, young ruler comes to Jesus asking how he can gain eternal life.

“You know the commandments?” Jesus asked.

“Oh yeah,” the ruler responded. “I’ve kept them all.” (A faulty thing to say to the Son of God, but whatever.)

“Ok. All that’s left to do is sell all your stuff and give the money to the poor, and then you can join the group,” Jesus said.

Then the ruler walks off, his head hung low and his heart sad. He’d wanted eternal life, but believe it or not, the price was a bit too steep for him. The people murmur, and Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them a lesson. Sure, He could’ve welcomed the ruler into His group. It’s not like the disciples were all perfect men. The ruler’s wealth and prestige could’ve helped them out, fewer enemies and comfier beds to lay in at night. But Jesus wasn’t going to be bought or lied to. He knew the ruler’s heart and intentions weren’t genuine. He knew that the cost of eternal life would displease the man, but it was what it was. He wasn’t going to lie to the guy or sugarcoat it. He just gave him the ultimate test, which he didn’t pass.

“Aren’t the boundaries I set up with those I love going to make them mad?”

Probably. I doubt anyone’s going to be pumped up to hear that you’re denying them access to a part of your life. But I can tell you that the anger they feel now is much better than the bitterness they would feel towards you later. It’s much more temporary and much less substantial.

“So what do I do?”

The only thing I know to tell you is to pray about it. Honestly. Before you do anything – make a move, pick up a phone, say or type a single word to anyone – talk to God about it. It should be our first action in doing anything, but especially in our dealings and doings with other people. If we seek God’s help and wisdom before doing anything, there’s not going to be a mess for Him to have to clean up afterward. Will it hurt? Yes, but it’ll be something everyone can recover from.

By Carrie Prevette

He is I And I am He

Even if you can’t say anything else about this series, you have to admit that How to Hug a Vampire is probably the most festive title that you’ve heard lately for a sermon series.

The first sermon in the series was very interesting. The first line in my notes from Sunday – which refer to the metaphorical vampires the series is about – says, “People who suck (the life out of you).” What makes it even more interesting is the next sentence reads, “This week, we’re talking about you.”

“Um, what?”

Pastor Alan went on to describe spiritual vampires as people who suck the life from you and make it all about them.

“I believe you said something about this being about me.”

He went on to characterize them:

  • Seek attention, reject affection
  • Never gratitude, lots of attitude
  • Demand rights, forsake responsibilities

“What was that part about me?”

They always complain. They’re one-uppers.

“But that’s not me!”

That’s what I thought too. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m far from perfect. But surely I don’t suck the life out of people. Surely I’m not that big of a drag to be around.

In truth, whether we realize it or not, we’re all someone’s vampire.

A little humbling to hear. Doesn’t really make you feel like a rainbow on the inside, does it? I don’t think most people set out to make others feel awful and to actually take life away from them. If you do, you have much more pressing issues than what you’ve read in this blog. But whether we intentionally suck the life out of other people or not, and whether we realize it or not, it remains that it still happens.

Romans 7:14-21 was the scripture that followed this bummer of a reality. The thing about this passage is that if you don’t read it carefully and/or read it from certain translations, it can be super confusing. So you can read the entirety of it from whichever version your heart desires if you so wish, but I’m going to type out what I believe to be the most important verses from the passage (for the purpose of this post) from my usual NRSV translation.

“I do not understand my own actions. For do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me… For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:15, 17, 19)

No matter how darling of a child of God someone may be, sin is still in their nature. Accepting Christ as our Savior does not change the fact that we’re human. Until we leave this world, we’re all just flesh and bones, filled with faults and loved by an astounding God.

If you’re interested in becoming less of a vampire and getting rid of some of the fanged creatures in your own life, there are three ways to do this. Set up boundaries, don’t always say, “Yes,” and hand things over to Jesus.

Setting up boundaries means that every individual only has access to the parts of your life that you allow them to. It seems like a pretty simple thing, but how often do we really do it? When I think of the problems that come up in my life because I said something to someone that I shouldn’t have or because I confided in someone when I shouldn’t have, it seems like I should’ve learned this lesson a long time ago.

Then we have to realize that it’s okay to turn people down from time to time. By saying, “Yes,” to everyone and every little thing, we take on a lot of responsibilities that aren’t truly ours. That adds up after a while. We begin to stretch really thin. What happens after that is that holes begin to appear and it becomes easy for things to fall through, and of course, people aren’t going to be too pumped up about the situation when it’s their issues that begin to slip out of our grasp. As Alan said Sunday, “A life full of yes leaves you with a lot of distress.”

It seems like we talk about handing things over to Jesus a lot. In fact, it may even sound pretty cliché. But the reason it’s so important is because it’s what we’re supposed to do, yet we seldom actually do it. We’re to take everything horrible that we do and put it on Christ.

“Well, that’s awful.”

What do you think He came here for? Jesus didn’t come to earth for a walk in the park. He came to be our Savior, and in doing so, accepted every responsibility and part of that role, including taking all of our terrible junk that we have inside of us. He gladly takes it all because He deeply loves us.

I encourage you to start looking at how you may be another person’s vampire. If you remain unaware of it, you’ll never be able to change it. After you see how you’re affecting these people, start implementing these steps. Consciously and actively be more considerate of the people in your life. The less life each of us sucks out of people, the more life and love there is to go around.

And don’t forget to be aware of the vampires in your own life. After all, it’s important that you feel alive and happy as well. God wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t be afraid to set up boundaries with the life-suckers you can’t seem to ditch, don’t take on so much responsibility that it starts to stress you out, and hand everything over to Christ so that He, being the expert He is, can take care of it all for you. Yes, people do suck the life out of us, but only if we let them.

By Carrie Prevette

At the Foot of the Mountain

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV), “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Faith may not come in first, but it still medals, which makes it extremely important.

Well, that’s great and all, but what exactly is faith? After all, it’s such a large part of any relationship with God. Even the belief of God itself is referred to as one’s “faith.” Experience would probably tell us that such a large concept has no easy meaning.

Do you remember being in school and having to answer questions that seemed really hard, but after you thought about it, it was really just writing down definitions? Thankfully, that’s the way it is with figuring out what faith is. The Bible – which is filled with many fascinating stories, characters, and concepts – contains a few definitions, and one of those is faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” –Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

It’s a pretty definition, but a definition nonetheless.

I kind of get a little uncomfortable when I hear sermons on faith. It’s not because I have trust issues or issues with the concept of faith. It’s because I suddenly start wondering if I have enough faith.

It’s like when someone brings up blinking or breathing, some involuntary action. You never think about it until someone or something makes you think about it. I’m that way with faith. I obviously have some faith in God or I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian. On some level, my faith is involuntary. When someone discusses faith, I begin to wonder if I have enough and if I exercise it often enough. It’s not to say that I dislike messages of faith because I really do like them. They just make me reflect more than I usually do, which can be a great thing. A great thing that I don’t necessarily want to do.

It’s so easy to lose faith. One thing happens then another and then something doesn’t happen, and before we know it we have way more doubt and bitterness than we do belief and trust.

The cool thing about faith is that it goes both ways. We believe in God, and God believes in us. The only difference is God’s faith never runs out on us. He knows us so well, and He’s certain of His expectations of us. Sometimes if feels like He believes in us a little too much. We don’t think we can do it, but God knows we can because He knows we’re not doing it alone.

Maybe that’s it: the loneliness. Why exactly do we lose faith? Sure, something undesirable happens or something desirable doesn’t happen, but it’s more than that. In those moments, we feel like God doesn’t care if He’s even around. We feel neglected. We feel ignored. We feel very much like God has just checked out on us.

I believe at that point God is exercising His faith in us as we are trying to keep our faith in Him. No, He won’t leave us. That’s not in His nature. It’s more that He’s mindful of our doubt and temptation to turn on Him, but He keeps holding on to us.

Pastor Alan closed with a powerful statement on Sunday. He said, “God doesn’t call you to the bottom of a mountain to face defeat, but to gain strength.”

I’m usually a visual person. When he said that, I got this image of this guy standing at the foot of a steep, dark mountain that seemed larger than life.

This guy looked up at the mountain, and he was dirty and tired. He was standing in a valley. We often talk about valleys and the climb to the mountaintop, but we never talk about the descent from the mountaintop to the valley. It’s not very much fun either.

We typically think of going downhill as being something fun, but really, it’s not terribly great either. First of all, you have to keep your balance while gravity is pushing you down. If not, you’re going to fall down that hill. Second, it’s not so bad on your lungs, but it’s awful on the joints, especially your knees. (As a girl with an old knee injury, color me not excited about that.) Third, you know that to at some point you had to or will have to climb that hill to get to get to the top. And fourth, it happens really fast, which isn’t ordinarily bad, but in terms of spiritual descent, it doesn’t really rock too much.

So this little man I was imagining had been going up and down mountains, and here he was standing at the foot of another one that was gigantic. Ordinarily, I would feel bad for the guy and want to give him a hug, but it dawned on me that this little guy had this. He wasn’t alone because God was with him. And he was so strong because he’d done this so many times before. Yeah, this was a new mountain, but it was still just a mountain. That’s it! And he was a very experienced hiker by now. After he looked at the mountain, he just started climbing it. What else was he supposed to do?

I learned a lot from that guy, even though he wasn’t real. What if I stopped looking at my problems as these big things that I can’t handle and started looking at them as just another thing that God and I can get through together? And what if I stopped shaking in fear at the task in front of me and just dealt with it through faith?

I was privileged to spend four years going to college in the mountains of North Carolina. Say what you will about Western Carolina, but it is surrounded by gorgeous landscapes. It’s “in the mountains,” but it is actually in the valley of the mountains. That means that from just about anywhere on campus, I could look out and see mountains covered in trees or snow. It’s a sight that everyone should treat himself or herself to because it truly can be breathtaking.

Now, I’m not much on hiking, and by that I mean I’ve never done it nor do I particularly want to do it. But from what I understand the view from any point on those mountains, no matter how many times you’ve tripped or how out of breath you are, is amazing.

We should stop looking at our mountains and valleys as these overwhelming struggles and start looking at them as the journey of our faith that happens to be really scenic and beautiful if we stop and appreciate what’s really happening and the goals we’re reaching.

By Carrie Prevette

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