Ups, Downs, Twists, Turns, Loops, Tunnels. Sounds like a roller coaster but it also sounds like the journey of life.
Ups: The hills of life. They are exciting, joyful, you feel like a conquerer, a success, you feel like luck is on your side. Hands in the air, praising and feeling like you just crossed the finish line of a marathon!
I felt these ups when I conquered cancer, when I gave birth, when I conquered my weight loss goals, when I stepped on stage to compete, when I started my charity, etc. But the ups can also be the times when I’ve walked outside and it was a beautiful day. I heard the birds chirping or I heard the ocean waves roaring. Perhaps i’ve recovered from injury and i’m able to take my first run again. I had a successful ride to work with no traffic or bridge lifts. I got the most wonderful hug and kiss from my child. Do you see where i’m going? Ups don’t have to be the big, huge successes of life…they can be the everyday blessings that you receive. The moment you start to see the little things as huge blessings, will be the day that life takes on a whole new meaning for you. Praise God for each and every blessing, big or small.
Downs: The valleys of life. You experience the struggles, the pain, the turmoil. You are literally at times on your knees. The weight of the world is on your shoulders.
I felt the downs. If you’ve read my story, you know i’ve experienced cancer, weight issues and an eating disorder. I’ve experienced divorce, job loss. I’ve also experienced every emotion from loneliness, despair, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, anxiety….
Where did it change for me? How did I learn to embrace the downs? Keep reading below as I cover twists, turns, loops and tunnels…
Twists and Turns: The confusion of life. Twists can come in externally beautiful packages with bows on them. You think they are doing you good, but in reality, they are tearing you down little by little. This could be for example, an event, or an individual. Ever heard the term wolf in sheep’s clothing? Trust what looks like a good or great thing, only to be disappointed in the end causing you to question everything about the situation or the person and perhaps yourself and your choices.
The twists were the hardest element of life for me to grasp. Especially in relation to people in my life. I had experienced time and time again…allowing people into my life, only to be used by them, deceived by them and left hurt, alone, wounded, confused. Sometimes, I could easily sit back and make sense of my pain. Other times, I couldn’t believe how I was deceived. Or that I allowed it to happen to me. Or that I fell for the deceit again.
It wasn’t until I sat in a bible study covering Andy Stanley’s book “Twisted” that the perverbial lightbulb went off. The enemy will use everything he can to confuse you and take you off your walk with God. That means using all your areas of weakness and constantly reminding you of your shortcomings. Many times so subtly, you never saw it coming. When it hits you, it’s so hard you feel like you’ve walked into a brick wall or even worse. You’ve walked into it and it crumbled right on top of you.
Loops: The failures of life. If you look at a loop…you start to rise, then you start going backwards and eventually fall, only to come back to the starting point.
Who hasn’t experienced it? When I was around 25, I had my first real desire to compete in a physique competition. Over the next decade, I would try over and over and over to grasp the dieting side of competing, only to fail over and over and over. But during each of those failures, I was discovering what I was tolerant of, what foods I enjoy and didn’t enjoy. What methods of working out worked with my body and what didn’t. So that by the time I had hit multiple “loops”…I finally achieved my goal and stepped on stage at the age of 36. Many might look at that as wow it took her a decade to achieve her goal, but I look at it as wow, my journey has been long, i’ve traveled many challenges along the way…but i’m here now! I embraced the journey along the way and I did it! It’s NEVER too late!
I like to look at this as successful failure. Now that assumes that you view failure as a necessary step towards success. That you recover and you keep going. That’s the key to embracing failure. When you are on the high of a loop, you have taken new steps. You are learning new things about the goal you are trying to achieve, about yourself, about process. Yes…it may not have brought you to your goal, but you have grown in that loop. What you learn from that experience will help you on the continuation of your journey.
Tunnels: The cold and darkness of life. Ever experience something so traumatic that you wanted to hide from the world? You don’t want to leave the house. You don’t want to go to the normal places you visit or spend time with family or friends. You walk staring at the ground. You want to be the ostrich with head in the sand. You feel like a recluse?
I have seen this tunnel. My tunnel was short, but none the less, it was scary, lonely, cold and blinding.
So how do you recover from the downs, loops, twists, turns and tunnels of life? My simple answer is knowing that you are a child of God. Dive into the word of truth…the bible. Know and understand that God will never leave or forsake you. Though you may experience the trials and tribulations of life, you know that God is in control. He did not bring these times upon you, but He may be allowing you to experience it for many different reasons. To stretch your faith, to help you discover something about yourself, your situation. To trust God everyday and every night (that just came from my 6 year old) 🙂 To grow you into becoming the person He created you to be.
Reflecting on every step of my journey, I can see God’s hand. Where he directed me, where he moved me, where he saved me, where he made me grow, where he knocked me out of my own way so I could be blessed.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
So don’t fear the roller coaster ride. Regardless of what part of the ride you’re on…keep your eyes on Christ and He will direct your path. Rest in the peace that only he can give you.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Psalms 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.