Surviving the Ups & Downs of Life
Life is full of ups and downs! The last couple of years have had more than their fair share. Prior to 2020, I don’t remember a time when the ups and downs have been so universal!
It is common knowledge that there will be ups and downs in life, but somehow that doesn’t make navigating them any easier.
I grew up in northern California and as a teenager there were three activities I looked forward to each summer…
- Driving to Santa Cruz to enjoy a day at the beach
- Spending a week at Alliance Redwoods – a Christian camp
- And riding the roller coasters at Great America with friends.
What joy I derived from these activities! They were a welcome break from work, and I worked nearly full time in high school.
All these many years later, I still fancy the beach, although I prefer more shade these days.
Getting away for a week is delightful – especially if the hotel is comfortable and bit on the luxurious side – a far cry from the rustic campground!
And roller coasters…well, they just don’t hold the same thrill they once held for me. You could say I’ve aged, because the uphill climb followed by a wild, stomach-dropping decent is now too much for me.
Perhaps part of my aversion to roller coasters these days is that they resemble real life a little too much. Maybe you have experienced it too. One minute, everything seems to be going your way – you get that new client, close that big deal, or happen upon a golden opportunity.
And just when you think all is well, suddenly life takes a steep dip down – your biggest client moves on, you get passed over for a promotion, or you discover you’ve made a costly mistake.
To add fuel to the fire, that roller coaster feeling is not isolated to your professional side – there are ups and downs in your personal life too. And because we are integrated people, what happens professionally, affects you personally, and vice versa.
Wild Ups & Downs
I’ve faced some wild ups and downs in my life – moments that have literally taken my breath away! Moments of pure delight like when I married my husband or when we welcomed our three kids into the world. Getting a job that I really needed or a job I was over-the-moon excited about. Seeing my kids get married and the birth of each one of my amazing grands – those are just a few of my many happy highlights!
And then there are the take your breath away hard moments I’ve faced, like losing a job, making a move across the country in the midst of my daughter being in the hospital, my own battle with Lyme disease, losing treasured people in my life, and a myriad of little disappointments along the way that felt large!
You know the details of your own ups and downs. You know how they have rocked your world! You’ve experienced the joy filled thrill as you climb as well as the frustrating and frightening trip down, down, way down!
Do you yearn for a life free of wild ups and downs and void of tummy tickling moments? Well, the truth is that life will always have ups and downs this side of heaven. However, you don’t have to let them steal your joy, paralyze you, or make you anxious.
I’m no teenager anymore, although getting older has some perks! One of those perks is realizing that life does go on, God is more than faithful, and that tomorrow is a brand new day!
As you encounter ups and downs, remember to…
1. Expect Ups & Downs
There really is no getting around the fact that life has highs and lows. Chalk it up to the fall! The good news is that knowing that highs and lows are “normal” helps to soften the lows and makes you appreciate the highs more. And either way, both are temporary.
Rather than focusing on the ups and downs of your circumstances, turn your attention to Truth! The truth of…
- Who God is – the all-powerful creator of the universe – He is still in control!
- How much God loves and adores you – do you really believe it?
- Who God created you to be – don’t forget you can’t be that without Him!
Regardless of how heart-pumping your ride is dwell on the above and depend on God. He longs for you depend on Him that way!
2. Practice Gratitude
Yes, you read that right. The ups and downs of life are both gifts.
The ups and downs reveal what’s truly important to you, what really matters.
The highs and lows provide opportunities to learn, grow, stretch, and develop into the person you need to be.
Resenting the roller coaster ride only keeps you stuck!
And the ups and downs encourage you to rely more fully on God – that’s when you are at your best!
3. Lean Into Your Feelings
By lean, I don’t mean allowing your emotions to control you, but rather noticing and validating your feelings. They are how you feel. Contrary to what you may think, feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are.
Then step back and take a cold hard look at what’s transpiring. Feelings are the result of your perceived reality. Feelings lie. Investigate: are your feelings telling you the truth or has your imagination gotten a bit out of control?
How is your Fear Monster at work? After all, your Fear Monster is probably a familiar feeling.
4. Resist the Urge to Blame
When things go wrong, it’s natural to want someone to blame! However, in order for genuine growth to take place, you have to take responsibility. How have you contributed to your unfortunate moments? What might you do differently?
Keep in mind that sometimes there really is no one to blame. Your fridge will break (mine broke this week!) and events get canceled. It’s just part of life.
And while blaming someone else might make you temporarily feel better, no one makes you feel anything unless you let them.
5. Fight the Desire to Take Credit
When things go right, really right, taking the credit is tempting too. While no doubt your strengths and hard work have contributed, anything you are able to accomplish is because God’s allowed you to. Your successes are meant to glorify God.
The more you take credit for your accomplishments, the less you depend on Him. If you are going to handle the wild ups and downs of life effectively, you need God’s help!
A steady leader in turbulent times is a much sought-after leader! One who is able to handle the highs and lows as well as the twists and turns of life. When you understand that God really is in control and that He is lovingly at work on your behalf, it makes it trusting God easier and you are less distracted by the ups and downs of life.
God’s been teaching me to trust Him more on the roller coaster of life. He isn’t surprised by what surprises me or challenged by what challenges me. And over and over again He works out the details in such a way that I can’t help but see His hand in my life.
The more I surrender, the less I stress, worry, and fret.
Maybe you are not there yet. Perhaps the ups and downs have led to some serious turmoil in your life because you’ve been fighting what is real. I’ve tried to control my situation and fight what was and all that did was leave me overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged. That’s not a happy place!
My hope for you is that you will come to appreciate the opportunity for growth and greater self-awareness that the ups and downs of life offer. If you allow them to, these wild adventures make a positive and powerful difference in your life. They make you wiser, more confident, and more resilient!
In order for you to manage the ups and downs more gracefully, what needs to change?