Is life just a series of peaks or valleys?
Or is it a series of peaks AND valleys?
I think it’s the latter but I didn’t always think this until I read an explanation by Pastor Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life. It’s been a long time since I read the book so I am paraphrasing but I have never forgotten the concept. He says that people tend to believe that at any given moment in their life they are either in a peak or a valley. But actually it’s both. He then goes on to say that a better way to look at life is to compare it to a railroad track. Our lives are like two rails running parallel to one another. One rail represents everything good or everything that’s going well. The other rail represents things that aren’t so good or things that need to be improved.
Reading this was a light bulb moment for me. I had never thought of life this way yet, it made so much sense. I have thought of this a lot over the years and I have never been able to find an instance where it wasn’t’ true. Every one of us, no matter how far down in a valley we think we are, has something good in our life, a peak for which to be grateful. We just have to look for it and if you are looking for it you will most definitely find it!
The “looking” is where most of us tend to slack off, at least I know I do at times. Lately, my life has seemed to be a series of never ending struggles. By nature I am a very upbeat, positive, glass half full kind of person. I LOVE my rose colored glasses and encourage everyone to invest in a pair!! J But even the most optimistic person can lose their way from time to time. Lucky for me I am also very aware of my feelings and I don’t particularly like to feel down. Feeling down makes me feel guilty, which is another useless emotion as far as I’m concerned. I feel guilty because I know I have absolutely no reason to feel down and the only reason I feel down is because I have stopped looking for the reasons to feel happy. I’ve lost focus on what is good and that is when I get in to trouble. And believe me, I have SOOOOOO much good in my life. We all do!
The other day I was sitting at a stop light at a huge intersection in my city. Off to my right was a homeless woman walking up and down the street with her sign stating that she is homeless and hungry. It also said “God Bless”. I see her almost every day. This one particular day I didn’t really “see” her. It was more like seeing “through” her because I was absorbed in my own thoughts of struggle. But something she did snapped me out of it. She smiled and she waved. She did that to every car that passed her and when someone stopped to give her something she smiled even bigger, a big toothless grin and said “thank you”. She was genuinely grateful and it showed.
So if this woman, who is in a valley so deep that most of us couldn’t even imagine, still has peaks, those peaks being the kindness and generosity of others and she’s grateful, what was I missing?? I will tell you what I was missing. It came to me when I crawled into bed that night. As I was falling asleep under my big fluffy down comforter, listening to the hum of the fan, wrapped in the arms of a man I love deeply, feeling so safe and secure, the homeless woman flashed through my mind. Something as simple as this would be life changing for her. I had gone to sleep this way for years and I had missed it. I’m not saying that I have taken it for granted, because I haven’t, it’s my favorite time of the day. What I am saying is that I had forgotten to focus on it. Not to mention all the other “little” things in my life that are so good! When we start to struggle and feel so deep in our valleys, we need to refocus. We need to look for the peaks and focus on them no matter how small they may seem. They are there and they are significant! You just need to look for them and never stop looking. The more you look for them the more you will find!