Who would have thought, when standing on top of a mountain, that a tiny purple flower would be the most captivating image? At 11,000 feet, I was not starved for scenery. The panoramic image of tree-covered mountains still harboring snow in shady caches was quite a sight for a flatlander like me, even if smoke from the Colorado 416 Fire in Durango did coat my view in a gray haze. The air at that altitude was freezing, the winds bludgeoning my summer-conditioned body with icy punches, but the view was still awe-inspiring to everyone on the mountain, except me.
Of course, I knew the scenery was beautiful, but on the drive up, I began to feel short of breath. Though I was in a car full of asthmatics, no one seemed to share my symptoms, so the smoke-filled air we attempted to endure, and even hike through, while on our vacation could not be the primary cause of my problem. Becoming dizzy and stomach tightening, I took off my seatbelt to give myself some space, but this, along with my inhaler, afforded little relief. As we reached the end of the gravel road and crested the mountain, every breath was pointless. No matter how frequently or deeply I inhaled, I felt deprived of sweet oxygen, my stomach on fire.
Finally, I admitted to my touristy family, “I feel like I can’t breathe.”
My dad explained that this was due to the high elevation and worsened by the smoke. My family offered to go back down, but not wanting to waste a thirty-minute drive and thinking of my brother’s stupid mantra, “Power through!”—usually used in the most ridiculous circumstances—I figured I’d be fine and got out of the minivan.
To reach the lookout point, we had to walk through what could only be called brambles, dead looking bushes encompassing a dirt path and reaching for my legs. Feeling fatigued, I was walking slower than usual, but thankfully, the path was short. When we made it to the other side, we came upon the beautiful mountainous view that failed to impress me, though I am fully convinced would have if I had been able to breathe. While my family excitedly ventured to the rails and a clearing beyond, I rested on a bench, reminding myself every 2.3 seconds that falling asleep was a bad idea because it might be classified as fainting.
At some point during those three or thirty minutes (I am not entirely sure which), my grandmother offered me a tiny purple flower, saying she thought of me when she saw it. Initially, I was unimpressed with the mountain weed, but as I continued enduring its presence in my palm, its value began to change. Examining the broken-stemmed weed, I noticed the depth of the purple, the petals holding the most vibrant color in the entire cloudy lookout. I realized how small the flower was compared to its vast environment and became impressed with its ability to survive the blistering wind, smoke-filled air, and freezing nights. This flower was beautiful and enduring, but so tiny, likely to have spent its entire life in anonymity, completely overlooked.
Yet, my grandmother saw it.
At first, I chalked up my adoration of the tiny purple flower to hypoxia, but in retrospect, I understand why it mattered: in a way, I am the tiny purple flower. I cannot tell how many times I have felt like an irrelevant weed in an imposing landscape. I have spent much of my life as a “lone wolf” because my commitment to Christ takes precedence over my desire for popularity. On top of this, I am introverted and shy, making me an awkward “wallflower” of sorts. Even when I am able to conquer my shyness, I wrestle with being self-conscious. As a minority of racial minorities, I am, at times, uncomfortable with my mixed hair, skin, and culture, especially as a student of a private, predominantly white institution. As a young woman, I struggle with body confidence and my weight. As a human, I often feel small and alone in my fight with anxiety. And, in the past few months, I have recognized just how low my self-esteem truly is. I understand the feeling of being small, infinitesimal, like a tiny purple flower surrounded by mountains.
Yet, despite my smallness, God sees me.
Not once in my life was I forgotten or overlooked by God. I was always seen and always chosen by Him. He has walked with me on my journey to become confident in who He has designed me to be, and He is walking with me still. As I continue to wrestle with my insecurities and question my worth, He reminds me of my immeasurable value to Him. He is helping me recognize and accept His truth about me, that I am small, but in His eyes, I am beautiful, a tiny purple flower in the midst of mountains.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT)