Life is an amazing yet complex journey filled with beautiful moments, forks in the road, and experiences that will test our determination and strength while building our endurance and insight. Like most hiking trips, people will warn us of the difficulty as we progress but no one can truly prepare us for how we will react to it all. We will reach a point where we wonder if we can carry on, get discouraged whenever we feel like we should have made it to our destination and become drained whenever we mentally retrace our steps and realize just how many better routes we should have taken.
There are so many of us currently suffering and stuck in a place where we don't feel strong enough to reach the top, but know it will be even more painful and exhausting if we just give up and turn back now. Some of us feel too damaged and broken to turn around and be triumphant, while others feel the burden of being refined and ready to elevate but shackled by resistance and discomfort due to the immobility and ignorance of those around them. We didn't come this far to throw it all away. No matter how we feel or what people and statistics say; we have to keep moving forward.
Your past does not define you. Your current struggle does not define you. Your mistakes do not define you. The opinions of others do not define you. Your negative self talk does not define you. Your disabilities do not define you. Your bloodline does not define you. Your address does not define you. The things you have and the things you lack don't define you. Your rewards and regrets do not define you. It's time you understand without a test, there is no testimony. All of your imperfections, pains, and passions all have purpose, so stop dwelling on them and find ways you can develop from them.
You are never too far, too old, too invested, too damaged, or too bogged down to turn around and take the steps toward a better, more enriched life. You're never too rejected, wretched, or rattled that you can't be refined and restored. There's another chance, another route, and another path for you. All you have to do is take the first step. Change is hard, pruning and purging are uncomfortable but there is unique power can stems from all of them. No matter if you don't accept it or others can't understand, every trail traveled was part of the plan.
You Don't Need Outside Validation; You Need Valor
The profound effect of change and authentic growth is not fathomable to people that have never addressed issues in themselves or matured and progressed in any way. Still people, weak minded individuals, nonbelievers, and the ignorant will believe and try to convince you that you are ruined, not worthy, incapable of overcoming your past or current circumstance and lead you to think that you're done. Just because they choose to live and believe that lie, it doesn't mean it's the truth or you have to be consumed by it. Those mindsets and people are more dangerous to your progression and purpose than your issues could ever be.
For the people that don't support you, try to hold you back, keep you a prisoner of your pitfalls, ignite your insecurities or promote stagnation on your journey; do yourself a favor. Let them go! Let them say what they want, believe what they want, judge if they want, and even try to tear you down if they want. They have absolutely no mic in your life or power unless you give it to them. Search for conviction instead of condemnation and seek authenticity over approval. Surround yourself with the word, encouragement, wise counsel, and people that have not only grown but want to see you grow as well. Your future self will thank you for it.
Trials Are Opportunities for Transformation
I had my share of hills and valleys. I've experienced the top of the world in my good times and suffered deep depression, downfalls, and mania in the bad. Now I see just how it all worked together for my good. It was the pitfalls that taught me more than the peaks ever did. In the midst of all my mess, there was my message. Brokenness made me address my emptiness and damage made me self access, but the pain that stemmed from both made me want to be renewed.
Did I experience times where I wanted to give up, wallowed in self loathing, questioned my strength, and found myself haunted by hindsight and hopelessness? I certainly did. But I'm now at a point of my life where I appreciate it all because it opened my eyes and confirmed that every step served a purpose. My worst experiences taught me the best lessons and best experiences only validated how blessed and capable I truly am. My life changed because my heart, friendships, influences, and mindset changed. My level of perception increased and the need for outside validation and perfection diminished. I realized who I was and who I was not. Moreover, I accept that the tactics that were intended to ruin me were the tools that were used to refine me. All things worked together and led me to an even better path.
There is a reason for every season and it's the seasons of waiting, pain, discomfort, and trials that open your eyes most. Even in your loss there is something to be gained. Everyone has failed, lost their way, and has a chapter they don't want to read out loud, but rest assured that nothing can happen without God's permission. The trials you go through, paths you choose, and experiences you learn from are never a surprise to Him. He allows things to happen, yes even the lows, to equip us and draw us closer to him.
It's not what happens to you, what mistakes you make, or the storms you encounter. It's how you handle them, what you learn from them, and how you allow it all to be used to better your life. Before you throw in the towel, remind yourself that you can either remain under the storm and continue to drown, or let it clear your path, wash you clean, and help you grow. Once you reach the top of that mountain that once stood in your way, you'll look down at all you overcame and be thankful you never gave up.