When the View at the Top isn’t What You Expected

When the View at the Top Isn’t What You Expected…

Have you ever accomplished a goal only to discover the end result wasn’t quite what you anticipated? Have you ever thought once you reached a certain “point” that everything that followed would be clear, but it turned out that clarity was still missing? The job, the move, the season didn’t quite look like you had expected? Me too. In fact, I am in one of those seasons in my life where I am putting one foot in front of the other (in a mostly skipping kind of way) and each time I pause to catch my breath, I think hm, this isn’t what I thought I’d see from here.

It kinda reminds me of the time when hubs and I took a quick, five day trip to California last December.

We were there for a particular purpose, so the days were mostly filled with planned activities. But we rarely go anywhere without squeezing in a hike, so I googled “nearby places to hike.”

“Oooh…Mission Peak is really close to our hotel,” I squealed. “It’s just under 6 miles round trip, and it’s supposed to have a world renowned view from the top. We should be able to finish it in two-ish hours,” I told my husband even though the website said the average time was four hours. We are somewhat experienced hikers. Old, and slightly decrepit, but experienced. And the trail appeared to be more of a road than the rocky mountains and skinny trails we were used to. Piece of cake, I thought before we drifted off to sleep that night.

When we set out the next morning, there was an invigorating bite in the air and a dampness that we Coloradans aren’t quite used to. I surveyed the trail ahead of us, a wide, dirt road with rolling green hills that made me feel like I was on an Irish movie set. We noticed the low, thick fog in the distance, but I was confident it would dissipate by the time we reached the top. ‘Cause that is what fog does, right? And then we would be awed by a panoramic view of the San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose skylines. The hubs and I would take photos of each other next to the famous Mission Peak sign (individual photos because we haven’t quite figured out how to take a selfie together that doesn’t cut off half the head of one or the other.) and then return to the hotel in time to get ready for a ceremony we were attending.

That’s not quite how it went.

The higher we climbed, the denser the fog got. The dampness curled my wiry gray hair into a scraggly nest that I was certain would land me a few of the magpies or whatever birds we had seen at the bottom of the trail – if they could see the nest through the fog.

And it got COLD. Normally I’m an annoying avid photo taker, stopping frequently to capture inadequate yet tangible memories of God’s stunning creation. Not on this hike. A little more than half-way up, my fingers were too cold and the air too wet for my phone camera. We kept climbing. I was struggling to breathe so we slowed our pace down. I blamed the humidity and assured Scott that the view from the top would be so worth it. We pressed on.

On the sides of the trail we could make out large black shapes that I assumed were boulders. Until they mooed. We were mere feet away before I realized that the boulders were actually cows. In fact, we couldn’t see much more than the path that was directly beneath our feet. Still, we continued on, trusting it would all be clear at the top.

It wasn’t.

When my Fitbit acknowledged that we had gone farther than where the summit should have been, further than the spot where we could pose next to that famously hash-tagged sign, we could barely see each other. We headed back down the trail without a photo from the top and without a glimpse of the panoramic view we had expected.

Were we disappointed? Maybe a smidge. But we let that go, knowing there wasn’t anything we could do about it . We’d likely return to the Fremont area another time, and Mission Peak would still be there. Mostly we felt the deliciousness of the moisture in the air, enjoyed the verdant green and rolling hills, took in the beauty of the uniquely shaped trees that stood like outliers here and there. We rejoiced in our reason for being in California, for the way we still enjoyed each other’s company after so many years. The giggles from seeing boulders turn out to be cows. The mist and the fog that made it a different kind of hike than we were used to.

And that out of breathness? When it happened on our next hike, it compelled me to go to the doctor’s where I was eventually diagnosed with a condition that, though seemingly unrelated – was causing shortness of breath. It’s been a process, but I am anticipating complete healing and am thankful for the little signs like shortness of breath that were showing me something was off. (Besides me off my rocker I mean.)

So, no, it wasn’t as easy as we had expected, and no it wasn’t as quick as we planned, and no there was not a clear view from the top. But it was a beautiful hike with an abundance of blessings.

And those are the things I’ll hold on to, the things I’ll remind myself of when life isn’t looking quite the way I planned. I’ll take responsibility for what I can – my attitude and actions, my personal choices – and leave the rest in God’s hands. I find that always enhances the view.

I was sure the fog would dissipate before we reached the top.

There might be cows in that fog…
We couldn’t tell what was around the bend but that was okay.
A google photo of the illusive sign 🙂

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

Your turn. When was a time when things didn’t turn out like you anticipated and rather than disappointment – or even in the midst of disappointment – you found joy and unexpected beauty?

Blessings for abundant living in Christ,


2 thoughts on “When the View at the Top isn’t What You Expected

  1. I needed this today: “And those are the things I’ll hold on to, the things I’ll remind myself when life isn’t looking quite the way I planned. I’ll take responsibility for what I can – my attitude and actions, my personal choices – and leave the rest in God’s hands.”

    So often I don’t meet my own expectations and my outlook tends to dim quickly. But, I am still here. I have survived things I thought would be so hard that I would not. God has never left me or forgotten me, and He has always remembered that He said He can be trusted.

    • Hi Emily,
      I don’t know you or your story, but I prayed for you. Like you, I have been through things so hard I didn’t anticipate ever living a life filled with deep, abiding joy and peace but God is so faithful, and indeed He never leaves us. Feel free to email me if you want to share any more. <3 Marie

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