Danielle and I used to look at life through seasons of hills and valleys but we’ve learned life is more like train tracks. How so you ask?
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. ~Pastor Rick Warren
January 2018 started off strong and with a lot of enthusiasm for the year. We had a marriage conference scheduled to lead, California weddings to attend, lots of friends to celebrate life with and our son graduating from medical school. Lots of hills.
What you don’t plan for are the valleys. You know the valleys will come, you even anticipate some of them. But the ones that surprise you are the ones that have the potential to keep you down for a very long time.
2018 definitely had its valleys, including our nephew taking his own life, Russ’ close friend taking his own life, Danielle’s aunt passing away, Danielle’s cousin passing away, our son’s cancer scare, Russ’ herniated disc in his neck and walking away from building our dream home.
From a hills and valleys perspective, it was a year of deep valleys that would make it hard to see the hills. But we had many wonderful things that happened in 2018, including the doctors sharing our son is cancer free, our son graduating from medical school, our daughter getting engaged, avoiding neck surgery for Russ, leading our first marriage conference, attending four weddings, purchasing a townhouse in the best location and Russ working for a wonderful company.
The challenge with the hills and valleys perspective is we tend to magnify the negative events in our lives and spend too much time in the valleys while not appreciating the positive events in our lives. We don’t want to dismiss or minimize the valleys in our lives. Instead, we want to process the emotions that come with trials in a healthy way which might mean getting professional help from a good counselor.
We have learned the importance of constantly acknowledging the positive events in our lives. For us, starting off each morning thanking God for a list of specific blessings helps train our brains to focus more on the positive events in our lives. Looking at life as a set of train tracks reminds us that there are always positive and negative events going on in our lives and helps us to acknowledge and process both in a healthy manner.
* Note from Danielle: I think it’s important to note that the pictures included on this post show just the highlights. These are the pictures that grace our walls. We have pictures of the more difficult times but those are not the ones that make our feeds. Just a friendly reminder that the pictures you see online never paint the full picture of someone’s life.
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