14 Oct Hills and Valleys
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” — Psalm 121
A few years ago, someone gave me a Lokai bracelet. These little bracelets are made with mud from the dead sea [the lowest point on the Earth] and water from Mount Everest [the highest point on Earth]. They represent the balance in between these points and a reminder to stay hopeful in times of trouble and humble in times of success.
A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about how there was so much in my life worth celebrating, but several people I know and love are in the trenches of hardships or grief. We talked about how life takes us to the mountaintop and the the bottom of the valley and remembered that old bracelet of mine – it reminded me of the best advice I’ve ever received from my father… That while I was made in the image of an extraordinary God, I will (most-likely) be average in all I do.
Now, before you get all in a tizzy… My father was not telling me I am average and will always be that way. He wasn’t telling me that my abilities are average or that I’m just an ‘average person’ and not to try to amount to anything better. Quite the contrary, actually… My father many times told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard enough…So with this advice, he wasn’t attacking my abilities, he was giving me a life lesson in pride and gratitude. I remember him saying,
“Chandler, you need to know something… In most cases in life, there will always be someone better than you and there will always be someone worse than you. There will always be someone richer than you and poorer than you… someone prettier and uglier… someone fatter and skinnier. You are by no means to ever feel sorry for yourself and by no means ever to think of yourself more highly than others…”
Of all the advice my dad repeated over and over again, he only said that one once… and it stuck with me. It’s the most beautiful reminder that while we’re at the bottom of the valley, there’s still so much to be grateful for. And that when we’re at the top of the mountain, we must remember who’s grace, mercy and love got us there. Here’s the gist:
When you’re at the bottom of the Dead Sea, practice gratitude.
Remember it could be worse and, chances are, someone in this world is experiencing worse. Practice gratitude. Be strong. Continue to love. Remember that you’re never alone. Thinking of others who are worse off than you are, gives you are huge reality check… your situation may not be as bad as it seems. Pray for those who are TRULY at the bottom of the Dead Sea and don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself. It only leads to resentment, anger, hatred, sadness. It also leads to entitlement. Stop expecting that you’ll just get out of it. Stop resenting God for putting you through it. Remember those worse off than you, pick yourself up by the boot straps and begin your climb a little at a time, one day at a time. Have hope that it will get better.
When you’re at the top of Mount Everest, practice humility.
Congratulations. You did it. Remember, though, that you are not the first person who has climbed Mount Everest and you won’t be the last. It’s an incredible accomplishment, whatever you have done. Take it. Learn from it. Grow with it. Help others achieve it too. You are on the top of the world, so you are in a great position to reach your hand out and help others as they climb. Remember that, while your accomplishment is great, you didn’t do it alone and your abilities are given to you by your creator. Give thanks for the blessings and remember that you are no better than anyone else because of this accomplishment… you are, simply, more accomplished. Everyone else was made by the same creator, too. Take your blessings and extend them to others. THAT is truly greatness.
When you’re in the middle, practice them both.
You may not have climbed Mount Everest, but you are better off than many. Remember that you are perfect the way you are. Work your hardest. Try your best. Expect nothing. Don’t cheat. You are not the worst and you are not the best. Give thanks for your blessings and pray for others.
Work hard, be grateful, remain humble.
Today, I urge you to reflect on the following lyrics from the song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells. As you read them, consider where you are in your life and how they relate to you. Are you on a mountaintop, in the valley, or in between? How can you lean into Him in the current season of your life?
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!”