It’s Lonely at the Top: "The Solitario Shoe"

We’re sitting at the table over a cup of hot cocoa as the heavy rain beats down on our family room windows.

“Fran, it’s not going to get easier,” Sergio says.

“I know it won’t,” I quickly reply as I take a sip of my hot cocoa. “I’m not complaining; I’m just expressing how I feel.”

“Well, when I hear you talk like that, I can’t help but worry about you.”

I laugh as I say, “Worry?! Why are you worried about me?!”

He opens his eyes widely and sternly responds, “Because! I can’t have you break down on me right now. Not when we just started this venture...I need you…”

I can tell by the quiet tone of his voice that he is genuinely concerned about my state of mind.

“Babe…” I lean in and begin, “I know what I signed up for. I also know that this is a necessary process to build me for what’s to come. If it’s not going to get easier, then I need this season to make me stronger. And you have to trust the process with me.”

“I believe that. And I know you’ll get through it.”

“I will! I know I will…” I sigh as I look down at my melted marshmallows.

“I’m ready, though!” he says with excitement as he claps his hands. Then he looks me in the eyes and asks, “Are you?”

I let out a deep sigh and convincingly say, “I am...But, man, they ain’t lyin’. It sure is lonely at the top…”

Over a year ago, my husband and I felt the strong call to start a new church plant in our community. I’ll admit, we ran away from the call for a long time before we couldn’t anymore. I think our biggest fear was knowing the sacrifices we would have to make and the high price we’d have to pay in order to fulfill the mission. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to handle it all - and by all I mean the good AND the bad. But then again, I also knew that fear would only paralyze me from fulfilling a calling that was far beyond my wildest dreams.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how lonely it feels as you’re climbing to the top of your mountain. You may be starting your climb, already midway, or so close to the goal, but no matter where you are on the journey, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You may even have hundreds or thousands of people applauding you from the sidelines. But when you get tired and turn to your left or right to apply the pressure of your weight on someone else, you realize...this climb is pretty lonely.

Because climbing means feeling the blows of the criticism, yet not responding to them. Hearing the naysayers tear you down, yet pulling yourself back up. Carrying the burden of others while feeling like you can’t even carry your own. Giving everyone all that you have to give, yet knowing that for many of them the sentiment is you’re not doing enough. Working tirelessly to get the job done, but being cautious of your own wellbeing. Making decisions that you know will hurt you deeply because others are depending on you to make the right calls.

The weight of your climb may seem unbearable more times than not. So why keep going? Why continue to hurt and suffer losses? What’s the point?! I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that question more times than you can probably count.

I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve seen a glimpse of what the top of that mountain view looks like and you can’t let go of that vision. It’s breathtaking, astonishing, admirable, and moreover, unbelievably majestic! So, every time you want to give up or give in, do me a favor: Remember that the top of your mountain view awaits you. This is your climb and no one will climb it for you. That also means that as you get closer to the view, you may have to climb alone. And that’s OK!

Don’t allow the negativity of others or their dogmatic standards for the way your life “should be” playing out dictate your ability to climb your mountain. They wouldn’t last a day in your shoes! So let them say what they want to say. This is your mountain, after all! Climb it, even as it’s getting lonely closer to the top.

Each post is named after a fictious pair of shoes. This post is named "Solitario," which means alone, lonely, or single.