Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hurdles of Life: How to Get Up After Slipping

Many would think that slips are awful and want nothing to do with them.  I mean, how could anything positive come from something so dark and shameful, right?  Wrong!  We have the unique opportunity to humble ourselves and allow Heavenly Father to teach us through the Spirit of the Lord after we make mistakes.  

My last slip was over two years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday because I learned the most important lesson of my life from that one slip.  I learned how to get back up.  I learned how to not let my addiction own me.  I learned how to not dwell on the mistake and keep going.  As weird as it may seem, if I had to do it over again I would keep that slip.  I would keep it because the lesson I learned from it is that valuable to me and I wouldn't have learned it otherwise.  I would like to share with you the journey of how I learned to get back up.

September 8, 2010 was a very dark day for me.  I not only touched darkness, I invited him in.  I fell incredibly hard and in the wake of that fall I was wrought with heartache and pain.  I felt horrible and wretched shame and I felt so worthless and hopeless.  I had no hope of ever getting away from this ugliness within me.  I wanted to give up so bad but I didn't  know how to do that either.  I felt stuck in the middle in some time warped limbo.  

But even through all the dark feelings I had a glimmer of Godly sorrow and I truly believe the humility that fed that Godly sorrow, even though small, is what allowed the following miracle to unfold.  The sweet revelation from the Spirit came as I sat in group the day after my slip and with tears streaming down my face I expressed genuine sorrow for messing up. 

I shared that I imagined myself in a giant arena, much like you would see at the Olympics.  I was a lone runner on a track of endless hurdles.  Each hurdle represented a challenge in my life, whether it was addiction related or something else.  My goal was to jump each hurdle without knocking it over and smoothly transition to jumping the next one.  I found that the further into recovery I moved, the more hurdles were left standing as I continued to jump them.  With every hurdle I would jump the crowd would roar with support and encouragement.  I felt invigorated and full of life! 

My race was running smoothly when all of a sudden I lost my footing.  It happened so fast; the rhythm was gone and as I jumped my senses became keenly aware that I wasn’t going to make it over the next hurdle.  My foot clipped the top and I crashed to the ground.  I was stunned.  What..... just..... happened? I laid there motionless for a good period of time trying to mesh what seemed like a dream into what seemed to be my reality.  It was surreal.  I looked at my hands and knees and noticed they were raw and bloody.  My head was spinning.  I was so confused.  I'd been doing so well and I didn't understand why I tripped.  I glanced at the track looking for some obstacle that would have caused my fall but found nothing; no reason, no excuse, no scapegoat.    

Then I heard them.  The crowd was no longer cheering for me but were now laughing at me, mocking me, telling me I was a failure and that I was stupid for ever thinking I had a chance to be a worthy runner on this track of life, let alone actually finish the race.  I was devastated.  I recoiled from their sneers and ridicule.  I felt sick.  I began to believe that the crowd was right.  Why did I ever try in the first place if I'm just going to fall and disappoint my friends, my family, myself and especially my Father in Heaven and Savior.  I felt my body go limp as I began to resign to defeat. 

Just when I thought failure had completely consumed me I heard a fervent voice in my ear.  Every cell in my entire body heard that voice; KNEW that voice, for it was the voice of my Brother, my Savior.  His voice was quiet and tender, yet commanding.  Although I heard and recognized His voice, I couldn't quite make out what He had said.  The intensity of the crowd was absolutely deafening.  I strained to listen; willing Him to repeat what He'd said and doing my best to ignore the crowd.  Again He whispered.  This time it was closer to my ear and it pierced right through the taunts of the crowd.
"Get up.” 
Surprised I asked: "Get up?  What do you mean?  Do you not see what I did?  I fell.  I failed.  I'm broken and I am bleeding.  If I get up I'll just fall again.  I'll just fail again.  I'll just disappoint you again."  
He responded even louder this time: “Get up!”  
I felt as if He was kneeling down right beside me, on all fours, injecting all of His will and energy into me as He said it one last time with all the fervor He could muster… 
“GET UP! I believe in you!  You are not a failure.  You can do this.  Please.  I love you.”  

I felt such love in His voice and I couldn't deny Him.  He was down on the ground in all the muck with me – right next to me in the spotlight of the taunts of Satan’s minions.  I couldn't blatantly defy Him, I loved Him way too much to do that, so I did just as He directed me; I got up.  It was slow going.  My knees were skinned up, my body ached and my head was spinning; but I was not broken as Satan would have me believe. 

I stood and faced the crowd whose degrading shouts had by then reached inhuman decibels.  Relentlessly they continued to bark their accusations at me:
"You aren't good enough"
"He is lying to you"
"He doesn't love you"
"He will never forgive you"
As I looked at My Savior and listened to the crowd I realized that I was faced with a decision, a very simple decision.  Who do I believe?  The entire crowd who is laughing and pointing fingers at me, led by one who has worked so hard to see me destroyed?  Or my loving Savior who knelt beside me on the track when I fell and told me He loved me?  The answer was clear and my decision came with ease. 

I faced forward once again, full of determination and again began running.  The first hurdle I came upon I met with trepidation.  I was terrified that I was going to fall again and relive the previous nightmare.  But I didn’t focus on that fear, I focused on my Savior who had taken His place next to me again, running beside me and encouraging me.  I reached that hurdle, jumped as hard and high as I could and flew over the top.  I landed with a re-invigorated heart and Spirit.  I kept running and again began jumping over hurdles one at a time as I came upon them.  With the sure consistency of working my dailies, following the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, I had once again found my rhythm. 

Further down the track I afforded myself one glance back.  I had completed so many hurdles, that the one I’d missed was invisible among the sea of hurdles my Savior and I had mastered together.  It was as if my slip had never happened.  I was again just as clean as I was prior to my slip - but with greater knowledge and wisdom of His plan and His love.

In reflecting back on how I'd fallen I realized the process had started many hurdles prior to the one I'd missed.  I realized that I was spending more and more time looking back and gloating over all the hurdles I had conquered.  Forgetting that it was my Savior that had helped me jump each one I began to take full credit for my progression.  I listened to the chants of the crowd and the power and prestige fed by their cheers to puff up my heart.  There wasn't an object on the track that caused me to fall, it was my own pride.

I also learned that as I lay stunned on the track that it was pointless to mourn the loss of the fallen hurdle.  As much as I wanted to, there was no way to restore that hurdle to it's upright position.  However I realized that as much as I could not pick the hurdle up, I could pick myself up.  And I did just that.

I am forever grateful to my Father in Heaven and the Spirit for revealing this picture to me.  Without it the gulf of misery I'd been feeling surely would have swallowed me. 


I have learned to not listen to the crowd.  I simply tune them out and constantly look to my Savior and make sure He is still running next to me.  Not once have I looked and He wasn't there.  He is always there, and will always be there.

9 comments:

  1. Such a great lesson that we can all learn from.

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  2. Loved it. I appreciate every time you share your personal experiences of feeling the Savior near you. This helps me feel a taste of intimacy I crave with Him that I can't feel yet, and also gives me hope that I will.

    I was thinking of this post as I listened to the BYU devotional today which gave a similar analogy and talked about addiction. He talked about the first day of learning to snowboard, and how what matters is that we are willing to keep getting up even when we know our snowboard is more than likely to throw us right off our feet again. We slip and slip and fall and fall that first day, we get bruised and tired and oh so sore. We fall again a few times the second and third day even. But eventually we can carve an entire mountain staying on our feet.

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    1. That''s a great analogy! Funny how we are so willing to keep practicing things over and over when we can see, based on others, what our reward will be. The rewards from practicing relying on the Savior aren't quite so obvious sometimes - especially since we have the adversary constantly whispering in our ears - but they surely are worth it.

      And thanks for liking that I talk about the Savior near me. It's funny because I was totally crying as I rewrote this story. I tear up every time I think of Him next to me. Love it. Chin up. You will get there!

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  3. Absolutely beautiful! I felt the spirit so strongly when I read this. You are just amazing to me and I thank you so much for your posts. I love this one and needed to read it tonight.

    I love how you describe the Savior. I have felt that way to when he is speaking to me. I am going to remember those words, "Get Up!"... when the negative thought come pounding in my head.

    Hugs and Prayers:)

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  4. I love your analogy. It speaks to me, particularly today.

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  5. What a wonderfully awesome visual!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT!!! I need JUST THAT very image to continue this journey ... this battle ... this race! You are a gift from God!

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  6. Thank you, Sidreis! This was just what I needed today. You are awesome!

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"