Most of us want to avoid the valley. It’s a place of shadows, a place where less of the sky is visible. But there is perspective to be gained in the valley that can’t be gained elsewhere.
Why does failure or rejection hurt so much?
During a recent TED Talk, Guy Winch explained that our brains register pain in response to rejection. “When scientists placed people in functional MRI machines and asked them to recall a recent rejection, they discovered something amazing. The same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. That’s why even small rejections hurt more than we think they should, because they elicit literal (albeit, emotional) pain.”
As much as we want to think we know best—and that God should be listening more carefully to us—it’s just not true. God knows all, so He knows best. God doesn’t need more of my perspective; I need more of His. And if God brings us into a difficult circumstance it’s for our own good. Only when I began to embrace the pain I experience in life did I start to see and to know what’s true, and the freedom it brings. I learned I can look at circumstances as opportunities rather than sources of agitation, which brings a lot of peace.
I have learned that knowing God by faith is not important only for the next life. It also has a very real and important aspect of current happiness. When I understand that what is happening now is shaping me forever, it provides tremendous comfort and even encouragement.
Most of life is not lived in the valley nor on the mountaintop. Most of our existence is not a low or high, an up or a down. Most of our time on Earth is lived on the plains, the midpoint between the ups and downs. In a word, most of life is routine. We should be thankful for this since everyday routines are amazing opportunities. Routine life gives us opportunities that change eternity.
When you stop to think about it, you realize that “whatever you do” primarily refers to daily, routine tasks. Special crowns will be given and special places of leadership in the joy of the Master will be assigned as a result of these “ordinary” involvements (see Matthew 25:21). All this, just for faithfulness in performing temporal, earthly tasks.
If God’s people could see everything they do as working for God, their lives would immediately be vibrant, their influence electric. Moreover, choosing this perspective gets rid of perfectionism and fear of failure because it focuses on what we can control (such as the choices we make), rather than what we cannot control (such as outcomes or results).
Top-tier athletes learn to focus all their attention on what they can control—their actions. They learn that if they divert their attention to worrying about the outcome, their performance will suffer. This perspective actually gives athletes, and all of us for that matter, a better chance to gain the desired results. But irrespective of the results, God promises that if we make good choices He will reward us greatly.
Excerpted from Yellow Balloons: Power for Living Life Above the Circumstances by Tim Dunn