Peaks and valleys, life is a constant whirlwind of emotion, thoughts and uncontrollables both positive and negative-depending on how you look at it. We tend to only be happy, thankful, grateful and giving when we are peaking-when we can see our blessings and we are “on -top.” But, we see the valleys in our lives as curses, a time where God is absent, hell, chaotic, depressing, gloomy, hopeless, ugly, unfavorable and become pessimistic. A few months back I had the pleasure of listening to Sam Chand a preacher, writer and leadership consultant. I will save you the details of the whole service but he had a very important message. “What you are doing inside the cave, is what counts.”
When life is handing you everything but the lemons you need, what are you doing? What are you thinking? I am going to guess that you are counting the negative things, the bills, the heartbreak, the wrongs, you’re overwhelmed in stress and depression and definitely are not giving, thanking or praising.
Dr. Chand’s message went on to say how being in the cave shapes you for the blessings you will receive when you come out of the cave, and/or allow you to break out of the cave. I have developed some tools that I am currently using and have used over my journey to get through the vicissitudes of life. (I am writing this more so to hold myself accountable to utilize these tools.
- First off, don’t let adversity stop you. Anyone can have faith when things are going right for them but, the real challenge and indicator of self-growth comes from when you’re knocked down and you get up anyway. Perseverance. I was praying about a week ago about my boyfriend and his journey to pursue basketball. As I prayed I asked God to send me a verse for him. The verse that popped in my head was James 15, which ended up being James 1-5.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
- Which flows into my next point, ASK! Parents (most anyway) want to give their children everything they want (so long as it is reasonable). So why wouldn’t you ask your father in heaven just like you would ask your parents? You are his child and he wants to give you the desires of your hearts, but you need to pray with out ceasing and ask. Do not be ashamed, or fearful, instead be specific and persistent.
- See the light in everything. Many parts of our day to day are mundane and we wish we didn’t have to do them, we complain and hate the time we spend doing them. Take sitting in traffic for example, instead of complaining and consuming your thoughts with negativity, try and see the blessings. Is it that you have a job you get to commute to? Is it being thankful that you have a car to get you where you need to go? Is it that you are simply breathing? Take a second to enjoy the mundane, the chaos the mess, enjoy it and be thankful for each moment. This takes tremendous practice as it is being self-aware however, once you can become more self-aware you can see how much influence being thankful has over your energy, thoughts and heart.
- REMINDER-YOU MATTER! You may be feeling insignificant while you are in the cave or going through a hard time. You may not see the point in what you are doing or why you are doing it for. Do I even matter? Yes, you are a blessing to someone else, whether they express that or not you are. It can be a stranger that observes you, a passer-by that you smile at, someone you help, a loved one, significant other, student, teacher, mentor, mentee-the list is never ending. We are interconnected beings, that means you matter to society, to your community, in your home, to the world and every other system you are a part of. BE A BLESSING to someone else. Do not forget to give, even when you feel you are depleted, you have nothing to give-give anyway. Luke 6:38:
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
- You can’t always see what God is doing. Often we are in harvest, planting seeds and waiting for growth. While you are waiting, are you watering? Are you fertilizing? Or are you mistreating the harvest? This takes faith, patience and living in his word and being obedient in his love. Mathew 6:30-33:
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
- Lastly, your circumstance comes down to how you perceive it. When you are in the cave you can consciously make the decision to decide how “bad” you allow yourself to think the situation is. Is it really that bad? Are you allowing yourself to overthink, dramatize and wallow in misery? I am not saying not to feel pain, hurt, grief or allow yourself time to take in the hard moments in life, BUT, consciously do not allow yourself to sit with it to long. This comes back to prayer, praying for God to open your heart, eyes, ears and thoughts to understanding and acceptance can move you out of these perceived “hard times.” Matthew 13:15-17:
“For this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
I hope this helps you overcome the valleys in life and reminds you that prayer, thankfulness and love will get you through the vicissitudes.