Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you walk through seasons where it feels like you will never make it out of the valley and sometimes you hit stretches where you just can’t lose. Sometimes life’s highs and lows play a game of ping pong and hit you back and forth all at once. This yo-yo effect can actually be more wearing than just staying in a valley with the devil you know.
There are so few things in life that we can be certain about and, unfortunately, we can count on the fact that we will always face hardships. I think there is a fine line between being practical by expecting hard times to fall upon you, while remaining anxious for nothing. By gearing up we can face hard times when they come head on knowing that God has promised to never forsake us. A few years ago, my late-husband and I sat in his office talking about the future and new endeavors we were implementing on the ranches. I remember Taylor mentioning that, for the moment, we had everything going for us; good health, happy children and all of our parents were alive and well. We knew such complacency couldn’t last forever, but we weren’t going to let fear of future unknown changes steal our joy in the present. Setbacks and disappointment can only erase accomplishments and victories if we let the enemy get a foothold on our worries.
My alma mater and hometown team had a big loss last week. They also played an incredible season and worked harder than every other team to achieve the opportunity to compete at the highest level. The heartache of one loss only overshadows the triumphs of an entire season if we allow it to. Like so many others who traveled to Los Angeles for the game, I woke up the next morning to a canceled flight and a change in travel plans that placed me on the red eye back to Texas. I quickly accepted the fact that I would be spending the night on the plane attempting to sleep in a middle seat before heading straight to work and decided to make the best of my extra time in LA. My ride from DFW brought me back to my house at 6 am, giving me an hour to get myself and the girls ready before heading to school. I attempted to hide my exhaustion with a smile as I greeted students in the morning and thought that a big part of teaching is putting on your game face for the children in front of you as you compartmentalize everything else going on.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”Psalm 23
I will never forget one day in my teaching career when I hung up the phone with Child Protective Services to discuss an incident a student had shared with me and walked straight from my principal’s office across the hall to a room full of kindergarteners eager for their art class. I wanted to burst into tears after the events that unfolded earlier but instead said a quick prayer outside my door, forced a smile and loved extra hard on those little ones that day. As a teacher, that was a rough day but it was also filled with lots of joy and ended with me tucking my own sweet children into bed that night which is a gift I will never take for granted.
Life will always give us upsets and we can’t allow them to keep us from showing up and enjoying the victories. I know after the holidays many of us are exhausted from wearing our game faces as we forced ourselves to celebrate while battling through grief, disappointment, uncertainty, etc… I think it is important to keep your game face on in your spiritual life so that the enemy doesn’t see the opportunity to kill, steal and destroy. Just because you are walking through a valley does not mean you can’t enjoy the view or look forward to what is around the corner. As christians, we know that we are walking through everything life throws at us alongside the Lord and for anyone who does not know Christ, He also walks alongside you eagerly awaiting you to call upon Him. Call upon the Lord in everything you do because faith equips us to meet all of life’s challenges shielded with the ultimate game face.
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