If you attended a public or private school, I’m sure you remember “tornado drills.” When the teachers, principal, and students pretty much “acted out” what we’d all do in the event of a tornado. We also had “bomb drills” where we evacuated the building. I remember thinking that it all seemed like such a waste of time. And given the fact that I was a nerdy girl, I resented being taken away from my books – UNLESS IT WAS MATH CLASS, in which case, I was delirious.
I’m sure you’re also familiar with the “Emergency Broadcast” tests that come across the television.. “If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed…”
These make-believe drills kind of clue us in on what could potentially happen and what we would be expected to do if those things that “never” happen suddenly did.
Real life trials and emergencies aren’t drills or rehearsals. They’re the real thing and, for the majority of them, we have no formal training or experience. We find our way, very often, simply by groping around in the dark. Sometimes we take wrong turns and have to find our way back to the path we’re supposed to be on. Sometimes we allow our emotions to take the steering wheel for a while before we regain control.
In the end, though, most of us find our way through the particular trial we’re forced to navigate through. It may not be pretty, but we make it.
Without a drill.
Our most important and profound lessons in life are learned on these routes, not the perfectly and carefully paved ones. Truth be told, while a lot of enjoyment takes place on the paths of least resistance, very little learning occurs. We’re too busy tripping the light fantastic to look for lessons.
No mistake about it: The greatest lessons in life are learned in life’s valleys. These lessons can’t be explained secondhand, they have to be experienced firsthand. Many well-meaning individuals say that this is the place where the greatest self growth and self improvement take place but I have to somewhat disagree.
I’ll consent that the potential for great self growth exists in life’s trials. The potential to grow and become better, stronger, and more capable people on the other side of a trial exists – but it isn’t a given. Truth be told (and I know no one wants to think about it), trials actually make many people weaker. They beat them down, make them bitter, and sort of create a “I can’t take any more” countenance about them.
Trials, tests, and even tragedies come about because the world isn’t perfect and life isn’t always fair. It’s up to us to hold each experience before us and ask, “What can I learn from this?” When we approach the valley in this manner, we’ve taken our first step to becoming BETTER.
If we treat each mishap as a personal assault which we in no way deserve – as if life and God are somehow picking on us – we have already taken the first step to becoming BITTER. If you’ve seen anyone encased in bitterness, you know just how ugly it is.
Realize and Remember:
- Bad things happen to everyone – no one is immune. We all experience the best life has to offer and we all experience the worst. We’ve all felt its kiss and we’ve all felt its sting.
- This, too, shall pass.
- The greatest views may be from the mountaintop but the greatest lessons can be found in the valleys.
One of my favorite quotes is by Dolores Seymour: When Life Kicks You, Let It Kick You Forward!
Insist on it.