Life happens and it can get you down. I know life feels like it is smashing me from time to time. Do you ever feel that way?
We all have dark times. Those times when we know we are not living up to all that we can be.
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. I thought you were going to teach me how to always have a fantastic wonderful life.”
Well, I use to think that as well. I often thought, “One day I will arrive. One day I will reach a level where I no longer have problems.” Guess what? That’s not true. You never stay on the same level or in the same spot.
I discovered that you are either pushing forward or falling back. There is no staying the same. Complacency is just another word for retreating. You don’t want things to stay the same, or you wouldn’t be reading this. You want growth in some or many areas of your life. I can help you with that.
The reason I can help you is because I have been to those deep, dark valleys of life—the ones where you want to end your life because the pain is just too much. I changed my mind and made a new decision. I made it out of the deep dark hole and I can help you make it out as well.
I learned to find gold in the valleys.
I’m serious. Everybody is focused on reaching the top of the mountain—and believe me, I’m one of them. I want you to envision a mountain in front of you. This mountain has steep slopes and deep valleys. You’re up to the challenge. You had a great night’s sleep and you’re ready to get going and reach the top.
As you hike up one ridge and then another, you start to feel a little stressed. What did I do? Do I really want this? I’m getting tired you lament but you bolster your courage one more time and head up the next ridge. You think, “This time I will make it to the top. In just a moment I will have arrived.” However, when you get there you realize there is cliff in your way this time. “How could I not see that?” You wail. You can feel the bully between your ears getting excited because he has been waiting for just such a moment to jump on you and beat you down.
“NOT THIS TIME. NO, YOU DON’T. I have tamed you before and I will do it again. I will not let you win. I will make it. I can do hard things and I am worthy of my goal.” You are determined and every step you take shows it.
As you are getting your gear ready for the assent, you notice a creek flowing beside a path over to the right that you hadn’t noticed before. You’ve only been hiking for a while and you realize you’re thirsty and tired. You walk on over and take a nice long cool drink. As the water cools your throat, you give thanks to your heavenly father for providing it for you. While you’re filling your canteen to continue on your journey, you notice a shiny, sparkling spot in the river. You sit down and take your shoes and socks off. You want to find out what it is.
“What if it’s gold?” you ask yourself.
You have just enough hope to think it just might be.
The water is cold as you dip your feet in, but your desire is strong and it actually feels good after the hard trail. You know you can warm your feet in the sun when you’re done, so you forge on. You get out to the spot where you saw the shiny spot. Bend down. Stick your hand into the ice-cold water and pull out a rock.
“A rock?” You exclaim. “That’s not what I saw. I just know it.”
So, you put your hand in the river again. This time you pull out a white rock. It’s pretty but not quite what you were looking for. You just know there is something else there and your desire is strong to know what it is. Soooo, you reach back in. This time you dig around a bit. You move some of the other rocks. You’re searching for what you want. Your fingers are going numb but you continue your steady calm search.
Your fingertips brush something.
“This feels different.” You think to yourself. “It feels smooth and heavy. Heavier than the other rocks I have touched so far.”
You grab a hold of it. Your heart beating wildly now. You just know you have found something of great value. As you pull it from the water, you close your eyes. You are just a little bit afraid to look at it.
“What if I’m wrong?” You query. “I’ve been wrong before.”
You slowly open one eye.
“Just a peek,” you say to yourself.
As your eye settles on the stone in your hand, you gasp and the other eye flies open.
“Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” you exclaim.
In your hand, is a large gold nugget. It’s incredibly heavy for a rock, and you notice it’s also twinkling and gleaming up at you.
You found it. Your cold feet and hands are forgotten. Your reward is true and it’s priceless. You will need to have it melted, refined and purified, but it is the nugget you have hoped for and it is right there in the palm of your hand.
“Gold! I found gold,” you shout.
Oh, happy day!
Snoopy Dance time. Your trek to the top of the mountain will now be easier because of the nugget you found. You set a different course and with a happy heart you start your newly improved course.
It is the same when you walk the paths to the dreams in your life. You need to learn to look for the gold nuggets of understanding, knowledge, and new skills.
You can’t always keep climbing up. You can’t stand on the plateau either. Things change and that is a big part of the fun. We like uncertainty with our certainty. We get bored quickly and want something fresh.
Without struggles there is no growth.
The next time you are down in a dark and dreary valley of sadness, loss, depression, anxiety or grief, take a moment and look for the gold. There’s a reason you’re in the valley.
When looking for a gold nugget, it’s especially powerful if you ask yourself, “What am I missing? What do I need to learn? I know there is a reason I’m here. What is it?”
Awhile back, I realized I was using my mother’s death as an excuse to be depressed—and therefore unproductive. Now, don’t get me wrong. I had spent some real time in grief. I had processed in lots of different ways. However, after about the third time I found myself in my valley of depression, I asked, “How did I get here?”
“Your mother died,” another voice replied.
“Yes, I know,” I said. “But, how did I get here this time. I don’t just miss my mother… I feel like my entire world is falling apart. How did I get so far down?”
“You wanted an excuse to be depressed,” said the wisdom inside of me. “You wanted some sympathy from others and thinking about the death of your mother is acceptable to move into depression. Others join you in feeling sorry for you and…down the hill you go.”
“Why do I want others to feel sorry for me?” I asked.
“Because you want an excuse to take a break. You’re still not practicing self-care very well.”
“Ah,” I said, seeing some patterns. “So, what you’re saying is; if I would schedule in time for me, I could break this cycle and free myself?”
“Yes, you would be more productive and happy if you just took a little time each day for you. Life is all about cycles. Learn to use yours to further your progress.”
I invite you to find the goal you are missing in your struggles. Let your struggles grow you instead of break you.
You can do hard things, my friend; because you are strong.
Thank you for joining me again.
Have a blessed day,