You Grow in the Valleys
No pain, no gain. Such an overused saying right....but as I think on it, it really isn't. We are all given only so many days on this earth and at times I find myself just wanting to enjoy life and not be hassled with the challenges or the valleys of life. We are all familiar with these seasons and have walked through them at some time or another or we may be in the middle of one right now.
Conversely, we all love mountain top experiences but these emotional highs are rarely sustainable and seldom produce lasting change. Change happens in the valleys where we experience the growing pains of life. Crops don't grow and water doesn't flow on the mountain tops. The healthy crops grow in the valleys where the rivers and streams flow. The most fertile soil is found in the valleys where the journey of the run off from the mountain top ends. This morning on my ride to my office, in the truck ahead of me, was a Jui Jitsu coach and on his tailgate was the saying "If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you". That sums it up pretty well.
Last year my close friend Rick from Oregon knew I was in a stretching year and recommended a book titled "The Obstacle is the Way." by Ryan Holiday. It wasn't an easy read because it made me face the truth about how I look at the obstacles of life. It was deeply challenging to learn how to look at these valleys not as obstacles but as opportunities to grow. Taking into consideration my personal history of how I faced obstacles in the past I was confronted by my attitude and perception of such times. My honest assessment made me recognize that time after time I made bad situations much worse by assuming that the worst outcome. Last year I finally realized that life's challenges are unavoidable and my fretting about the outcome or going to the worst possible place only made bad situations worse. In essence a victory for the enemy and a loss for me. This was another place I finally got tired of being on the losing team and I learned to recognize when my thoughts gravitated to the worst possible scenario. I learned to stop the train wreck of thoughts take a few deep breaths and acknowledge the God I serve in the midst of chaos.
Ryan Holiday writes "Where one person sees a crisis, another can see opportunity. Where one is blinded by success, another see reality with ruthless objectivity. Where one loses control of emotions, another can remain calm. Desperation, despair, fear, powerlessness....these reactions are functions of our perception." He goes on to say "Too often we react emotionally, get despondent, and lose our perspective. All that does is turn bad things into really bad things."
James 1: 2-4
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I am in no way, shape or form minimizing the difficulty and demand that the valley experiences in life place on us but I am fighting to become better at how I perceive and navigate my way through these valleys knowing it makes a tremendous impact on those closest to me and in the eyes of the Lord. Honestly, I haven't made it to the "pure joy" response yet, but I am moving in the proper direction. God didn't create us to just get through the valleys of life, He designed us to be more than conquerors.
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Christie Caine was abandoned at birth and was dropped off at a hospital without a name or a birth certificate. Now, 50 years later she oversees an organization called A 21 Campaign which rescues children out of human trafficking in 14 countries around the world. She defines being more than conquerors as "taking the very thing the enemy wants to use to destroy your life with and you turn it around to use it to give someone else a future." We not only achieve victory but we are overwhelmingly victorious. The following video clip is an inspiring example of a incredible young man, Inky Johnson, and his triumph over tragedy.
1 Corinthians 10:13
God won’t give you more than you can handle
Personally I can validate this verse. There have been seasons of life I felt so stretched that I was certain I would break......but I didn't. As a business owner I have gone through several recessions that seemed to have no end in sight. Years of hard work were wiped out in a short period of time and months of no income caused my spiritual foundation to be tested to say the least. Somehow as I look back on it now I recognize that I not only survived but I am more resilient and stronger because of these seasons. I am certain each of you can look back on your own lives and see the times you were stretched to the core and somehow survived. Today you are stronger because of your past victories and weathering these storms are tremendous accomplishments.
In conclusion, don't run from the valleys of life, face them with bold courage that God is going to use them to strengthen you to become the man He fully intended you to be. My greatest encouragement for you at this time is not to face the obstacles of life alone. Link up with other men or your wife and walk through these valleys a step at a time. Use your past victories as a reminder to yourself and an encouragement to others that they are stronger than they think and they will be more than conquerors of the valley they are in. Psalm 23 tells us "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me". He will see us through the valleys of life and you will be stronger when you come out the other side and you will come out.